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Pay Attention to Mother Nature's Hints
Wildlife and the Outdoors
Pay Attention to Mother Nature’s Hints
Frank Allen, Area Biologist
If you enjoy spending time outdoors, pay attention Mother Nature. She has many ways in which to convey knowledge about our landscape’s inhabitants. Plants, animals, weather, tides, and lunar phases contribute clues that can help you understand the complex outdoor world, enabling you to become a better outdoorsman. Though many interactions between plants and animals are now understood, there are still many yet to be realized. By using your five senses, you can sometimes recognize and understand Mother Nature’s messages.
There are many false tales and theories concerning animal behavior. Most people think that when vultures are seen circling an area, that they have located a meal. More often than not, they are actually riding thermals to gain altitude and have a better vantage point for sniffing out their meals. When a vulture locates the scent source, they don’t waste time circling. They instead go straight to the food. This is one example of humans’ misunderstanding nature. In order to make a valid assessment in nature, one must gather information before deciding what Mother Nature is trying to reveal.
Sometimes reading animal behavior is quite easy. Most deer hunters recognize that when a squirrel barks, something (or somebody) is on the move. Other animals also hear the squirrel’s alarm, and temporarily go into an alert mode. Seagulls and terns seen diving at a school of bait fish are usually a reliable indicator that there are larger game fish feeding on the bait fish from below. When the tide changes from high to low, this may trigger a feeding frenzy for some fish while other species prefer feeding when the tide changes from low to high. Some turkey hunters and crappie fisherman view the dogwood’s bloom as a signal of the opportune time to search for their quarry. A unique smell often gives away a nearby bream bed in a pond. These are a few examples of determining what is happening in the outdoors.
Changes in weather conditions greatly affect the way animals and plants respond. Therefore, learning to read cloud types and formations will assist you in predicting the upcoming weather. Domestic animals can sense bad weather on the horizon, so keeping an eye on pets may also save you from harm. Barometric pressure movements, or lack thereof, also affect the habits of wildlife. Wind direction and speed can be crucial in capturing a deer on film or persuading waterfowl into a decoy spread. Therefore, weather forecasts could be an essential part of any outdoor trip.
Lunar phase is another factor that should not be disregarded. Raccoon hunters know the best time to hunt is during a new or quarter moon, due to the fact that raccoons are most active at night during low intensity moonlight. Deer hunters often miss some of the best hunting opportunities during midday of a full moon. Hunters traditionally hunt during the early and late part of the day; therefore they miss out on deer movement at high noon. Many people believe that peak movement and feeding occurs for animals when the moon is directly above head or directly beneath foot. Test this theory the next time you are outdoors.
Common sense must always be applied when venturing outdoors. If an encountered animal is acting strange, it may be sick and should be avoided. Finding a deer fawn without a mother does not mean abandonment. The doe hides her fawn from predators. It’s Mother Nature’s way of protecting the fawn.
So, the next time you venture outside, pay attention to your surroundings. Maybe Mother Nature will help you figure something out that will give you a much better understanding of the outdoor world.