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We are being watched

Damon and I were cutting and splitting wood again on Saturday. It may seem like a strange form of entertainment to some, but it works for us. We get some fresh air, exercise, and free heat while we clean up the remnants of the last ice storm. I g...

Damon and I were cutting and splitting wood again on Saturday.

It may seem like a strange form of entertainment to some, but it works for us. We get some fresh air, exercise, and free heat while we clean up the remnants of the last ice storm.

I glanced up to see a deer watching us. I thought it rather strange, with all the noise of the chain saws and log splitter that she would not have made a rapid exit to anywhere except where there were people. It has not been that many days since we were hunting them, and there is still a deer season open.

I hate it when people give animals human characteristics, but I do at times wonder how much animals can think and reason. The deer looked at us like we were no threat, only a curiosity. We were too busy to bother with her. We stopped what we were doing and watched her as she watched us. Eventually, she wandered off into the brush, not the least concerned about our presence. It is as if she knew a person with a chainsaw is harmless; that same person with a shotgun is very dangerous.

Sunday, I took a big round bale of hay out to the horses. I was wrestling the heavy and awkward feeder around the bale when a group of turkeys flew in. They were all gobblers and landed in the field near where I was working.

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The ground was scrapped and rutted from the tractor and horses tracks. The large, powerful birds strutted about eating the green grass that poked up through the snow, giving me only an occasional glance. I know turkeys do not have the greatest sense of hearing, but I also know they can hear a diesel tractor from 50 yards away. I know from hunting them, from 50 yards a gobbler can see the blink of a person's eye. I could tell they were watching me, but what were they thinking.

Anthromorphizing again, I felt they knew I was no threat to them. Some guy with a big green tractor fighting with a bale of hay while trying to shoo away four horses was not turkey hunting. It makes a person wonder how smart the birds are. Perhaps just once, during turkey season, I should drive the tractor into the pasture and use it for a turkey blind. If I thought it would work, I would bring along a big bale of hay, a bale ring, and four head of horses.

I know the song birds my wife feeds are watching us all the time. If the feeders are empty, there will not be a bird in sight. When she goes out to refill them, by the time she has gotten to the second feeder, birds are congregating on the first one. They are somewhere in the distance, waiting and watching for the lady with the food.

We enjoy watching wildlife through the seasons and I am beginning to wonder how much wildlife enjoys watching us. They obviously have watched us long enough to learn certain behaviors we exhibit. They can tell when we are threatening and when we may be of some use to them. If they are learning too much about us, perhaps I can really mess with them by starting up my chainsaw the next time I am bow hunting. I would hate for wildlife to learn too much by watching us.

Walter Scott is an outdoors enthusiast and freelance writer from Bloomfield, Iowa.

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