Google Real Alaskan Adventures in the Wild of Alaska: March 2012

That's A Lot of Bull!

This photo was taken yesterday of one of my neighbors.  This 4-year old bull has had a rough winter. The snow has been exceptionally deep and that forced more moose down from the mountains concentrating them in pockets with less snow. This created high numbers foraging in close proximity to each other- pickins’ got slim! So good luck to him, the first signs of spring are finally upon us.

 BUT, the Grizzlies are waking up hungry after a long winters sleep. The moose’s struggle never ends-we have that in common!
That protrusion above his eye was left when his antlers dropped in late January and now they are beginning to start growing again through the summer. They are very proud of that armament all summer and fall, and then in late winter it falls off!  Hey guys aren’t we Lucky!!
As I mentioned earlier the moose have concentrated in areas with less snow or areas that are cleared like highways and railroad tracks. The Alaska Dept. of Fish & Game has created feeding stations for them recently to draw them away from cleared highways and railroad tracks and they issued this report, “We are authorizing this extraordinary step due to public safety concerns. We hope the diversionary feeding stations will lure moose away from roads and will reduce moose-vehicle collisions and other dangerous encounters,” said Tony Kavalok, Assistant Director of the Division of Wildlife Conservation. This diversionary feeding permit allows the permit holder, not the general public, to feed moose. “This program is warranted only under exceptional circumstances such as has been created by this year’s snow conditions,” said Kavalok.”
Moose favor areas with less snow including plowed roads, railways, and driveways. This year’s heavy snowfall has resulted in increased moose related vehicle accidents(TOTALS THE CAR!) and antagonistic encounters. Diversionary feeding, along with packing down trails leading away from roads to feeding stations and areas with natural foods, can reduce conflicts between moose and people.
Speaking about antagonistic encounters- moose and people don’t mix! They are nobody’s pet and can/have seriously injured and killed people here in Alaska. The adult cows weigh about 800 lbs. and the bulls can weigh up to 1600 lbs. That’s A LOT OF BULL!

The Piper Super Cub- Alaska's Pick-Up Truck

Most all of us have seen pick-up trucks with gun racks in them. Well, we do things a bit different here in Alaska sometimes. In the photo, you see the struts of a Super Cub aircraft, our "pick-up" truck. Without question, one of the best bush planes around to get you to extremely remote places. They will haul anything and as much as you can put in them, this flight was full so the gun gets tied to the struts this trip.  That is it's only flaw, they don't have much room!  (They don't have a horn either)

Super Cubs have room for two people and they sit in tandem(one behind the other). There's a little storage behind you but not a lot and your shoulders touch each side of the Cub. BUT, this lightweight aircraft can get you in some pretty tight and EDGY places!  What's the reward? There's nobody else for many miles.

I write a great deal about those "EDGY" places in my upcoming book "Chance is the Providence of Adventurers". You will not believe some of the places we have landed and lived!  After having a rough landing with a client years back he ask me, "Did we just land or were we shot down?"

In the coming months I have footage of many of these "Edgy" landings. Additionally, I plan to put mpegs on my blog to share with you. It will be a front row seat with the camera rolling. It'll be fun and you'll get the "picture"!
Note:In the photo, we are flying over the area where the TV Series "Deadliest Catch" is filmed. It was a nice day in Bristol Bay. Ahhh... Winganaprayer

Bush Pilots are not often found in Church BUT pray more than most of You!

WinganaPrayer is an old Bush Pilot term. Not found in any of Webster's Dictionary verions. In this photo I gotta go east(left) pass looks closed-in and there's no turning back and no place to land(I'm on floats). I'm cruising along about 800'. I need that much time to properly panic if something sputters!

 Times like this you dig deep, pucker up a little in various places and hope for the best. THAT'S Winganaprayer at its finest!
Did I mention how much fuel I was burning? Did I mention headwinds?

That ole Winganaprayer has worked for me for years since I left Meade Co. Ky!  Somebody call Webster, the word WinganaPrayer needs to be there!

            Bush Pilots are not often found in Church BUT pray more than most of You!

Alaska's "Sunday Turkey"

The sandhill crane (Grus canadensis) is Alaska's largest game bird. Residents of the Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta have affectionately nicknamed it the “Sunday turkey.” In some ways, cranes are birds of great contrasts. They are one of the most stately and dignified birds in flight, but they can also be one of the most comical when doing their famous “mating dance.” They come together in great flocks during migrations but are wary and scatter widely in their breeding and nesting areas.

Sandhill cranes are wading birds that have long black legs, long necks, and black chisel-shaped bills. Adults stand almost 3 feet tall and have a wing span of 6 feet or more. Mature birds are an ash-gray color with a bright red forehead. Immature birds are quite mottled with coppery or rusty feathers and lack the red forehead of adults. Adult plumage is attained at 2½ years. In the past, the sandhill cranes in Alaska were called “little brown” cranes and were thought to be a separate species based on their color. It is now known that the brownish-rust coloration of these northern birds is iron stain picked up in the peat bogs and muskegs of their breeding grounds.

The dance of the sandhills may be one of the strangest breeding displays on the tundra. Often called a mating dance, display activity reaches a peak in late winter and early spring, but it has also been seen at other times of the year when two cranes meet. The ritual starts with a deep bow followed by great leaps, hops, skips, turns, and more bows. This dance can go on for many minutes. Cranes are extremely wary birds and hard to approach. Their long legs enable them to easily outdistance a person walking on the uneven tundra, but they will take flight if closely approached. Except for the nesting season, cranes are social birds that feed together and occupy safe communal roosts at night.

Omnivorous ground feeders, cranes eat frogs, rodents, insects, bulbs, seeds, and berries as well as occasional seashore delicacies. They have adapted well to agriculture and during the winter and on migration, feed largely on waste grain and small animals associated with farm fields.

Moose, My Constant Companions

Winter of 2011-2012 has been extremely difficult for the critters here in Alaska. Many areas of the State had record snowfall. This depth of snow has reached over 250" for the season for many areas of Alaska. It has been tough on the critters as I said earlier but imagine keeping a path to the outhouse cleared! But, that's another story.

I have included a few photos of Moose that have came down from the mountains to get to less amounts of snow to live and feed. That puts them in constant contact with us and a part of everyday life-it's a good thing!

This unusal amount of heavy snowfall has put the moose in areas that have roadways or trails plowed that makes it easier for them to get around to browse on the tree buds. I guess they get lazy now and again too...

This little guy thinks he is hidden behind that stick!

In the spring Moose are very nervous as hungry Grizzlies are coming out of their winter dens.