Posts tagged ‘deer’

Pretty Kitty—Carlton County Bobcat

It is good to have a network of friends, and for many reasons—Friends you shoot with, friends who can give you critique and feedback, and friends who give you tips on wildlife locations. And my buddy Gene helped me with the latter. I think the text said something like “the bobcat came back this morning” This was monumental news! How could he state that so nonchalantly? I called him immediately and was set up on his property in a remote part of Carlton County, Minnesota the next day. A mere 25 minute drive from my house, I got there just after sunrise.
On the way up his long winding drive, a movement caught my eye. A winter-white Snowshoe Hare had hopped a few yards but was now sitting motionless. Too bad the Bobcat hadn’t seen this tasty meal. Witnessing a chase scene would have been a once-in-a-lifetime treat.

Bobcat Lynx rufus Carlton Co MN IMG_3429 1024pxAfter about 45 minutes of sitting quietly, it was an unbelievable thrill when Gene whispered, “Here she comes.” (We’ll call her “she” as her size seems small and features delicate…Plus, what a pretty face!). She cautiously slipped between the hazel brush, slinking her way towards the road-killed deer that Gene had provided.

Bobcat Lynx rufus Carlton Co MN IMG_3390 1024pxSensing her surroundings with acute hearing and smell and vision, she crept closer, occasionally stopping to sit and relax, making sure the coast was clear. In the nearly 3 hours we sat there, she came in about four times, but retreating after a few minutes.

Bobcat Lynx rufus Carlton Co MN IMG_3339 1024pxBobcats have increased in Minnesota over the last few decades. In an article titled “Bountiful Bobcats” in the Minnesota Conservation Volunteer Jan/Feb 2014, the author quotes “From the 1970s up to about 2000, bobcat population numbers were fairly low and stable, according to John Erb, furbearer biologist for the Department of Natural Resources. But starting around 2000, the bobcat population increased rapidly. It grew for about eight years and now appears to be stabilized at about 5,200 in spring and 8,200 in fall. (That’s well above the levels observed from 1977 to 1997—about 1,700 in spring and 2,300 in fall.) Erb and other wildlife managers hope to better understand the causes and potential implications of this bobcat resurgence.” See the entire article here

Snowshoe Hare Gene Letty's homestead CR104 Carlton Co MN IMG_3279Snowshoe Hare that greeted me on my way into Gene’s cabin…A rare sight!

Bobcat Lynx rufus Carlton Co MN IMG_3373 1024pxThe Volunteer article goes on to say, “An adult is roughly 3 feet long including its short, “bobbed” 4- to 7-inch tail. Adult males, or toms, can weigh more than 30 pounds and occasionally over 40. Adult females usually weigh 20 to 25 pounds.”

Bobcat Lynx rufus Carlton Co MN IMG_3414 1024pxWhy are they increasing? John Erb is the MN DNR’s furbearer biologist…”Erb suspects multiple reasons for the recent bobcat population explosion, although he stresses the need for more research to winnow out the causes. One possible factor is the changing climate. Minnesota is at the northern extent of bobcat distribution in North America. Bobcats are less efficient deep-snow predators than are Canada lynx, which have thicker fur, longer legs, and oversized paws.”

“Milder winters might be aiding survival rates, particularly for younger animals,” Erb says. “Female bobcats might also be coming through winter in better condition, so they might be having better reproductive output and survival of kittens.”

“Forest management could also be playing a role. Erb says disturbed and younger forests often provide dense cover and abundant edge habitat, which bobcats and some of their prey prefer. He believes this habitat has expanded due to increased logging that began in the mid-1980s, accelerated in the early 1990s, and continued until recent years. He points to a similar pattern of young forests, plentiful deer, and booming bobcat populations in the 1940s and ’50s, following turn-of-the-century logging, fires, and other forest disturbances.” From the article by Jacob Edson “Bountiful Bobcats” in the Minnesota Conservation Volunteer, Jan/Feb 2014

Bobcat Lynx rufus Carlton Co MN IMG_3376 1024px“Another factor that could be affecting bobcat populations is the increase in deer and turkey populations. Bobcats prey on deer, particularly fawns, and scavenge on dead deer, especially during winter.” Surprisingly, Bobcats are also able to take down adult deer.

Bobcat Lynx rufus Carlton Co MN IMG_3434 1024pxOne researcher has also noted that Fishers are declining in the core Bobcat range in Minnesota. Is it because they are competing for some of the same prey? Bobcats will also kill adult Fishers.

Bobcat Lynx rufus Carlton Co MN IMG_3528 1024pxForested parts of Minnesota may harbor one Bobcat per six to seven square miles. Lynx, which are better adapted to deep snow, replace Bobcats in the Arrowhead region.

Bobcat Lynx rufus Carlton Co MN IMG_3440 1024pxThis fact really surprised me. Did you know that Lynx on average weigh less than Bobcats? They rarely top 25 pounds while Bobcat Toms can top 40 pounds! It is the very long legs and large feet of a Lynx that gives us the impression of a larger animal.

Bobcat Lynx rufus Carlton Co MN IMG_3306 1024px

Bobcat Lynx rufus Carlton Co MN IMG_3530 1024pxFeeding daily on this carcass for nearly a week, she still is cautious when approaching her “prize.”

Bobcat Lynx rufus Carlton Co MN IMG_3422 1024pxI’ll post a video of her in the next blog post.

[Most images shot under low light with heavy overcast skies; Canon 7D with Canon 400mm f5.6 lens; f5.6 at 1/250 second at ISO 1000. Firmly locked on tripod!]

[The two images of the Bobcat actually feeding at the deer carcass were taken at f5.6 at 1/160 second at ISO 1600]

Timber Wolf eating deer video

The trip to daycare is never dull…okay, most of the time it’s pretty dull. Birk and Bjorn stay pretty quiet as long as I have the radio tuned to WNCB Christian hit radio and keep tossing fishy crackers, granola bar bits, or whatever edible thing I find in the Subaru’s crevices into the back seat. But today, we didn’t get more than a mile from home when I saw a mammal in a hayfield. It was a long ways out, but at first glance I thought it was a Coyote. But it looked too bulky.


I had taken Bridget’s car this morning and so I didn’t have my camera along (Rule #1 of wildlife photography: ALWAYS have your camera in your car!). Fortunately Bridget did have her binoculars under the car seat and I was able to get a good look at the mystery animal. I put them up to my eyes and found myself staring into the distinctive face of a Timber Wolf! So I told the boys to “hang on!” and back we raced to the house. I nabbed my camera and tripod and sped back.

The wolf wasn’t there! I scanned the field cursing my lack of preparation when I spotted him, closer to the road now. He was laying down and gnawing on a deer carcass. I imagine he was able to kill the deer last night and just lingered on feasting until morning (it was past 8:30 am by now). I was filming in plain view but he gave me few glances. Wolves can only be confused with Coyotes under the worst conditions or at very long distance. Wolves are much bulkier, longer-legged, and lope with a loose-jointed gait. Their head is blockier and they often show white rings around the eyes. Wolves also lack the extensive red of some Coyotes and may be very white or very black (Coyotes don’t show this pelage variation).

I walked another 50 feet closer. He seemed undaunted but finally got up and without effort snapped a deer leg off to take with him (the original “take out” meal). He loped across the field and stopped near the tree line to take one last look at the man who interrupted his meal.

Back at the car, the troops were doing fine after about 20 minutes left to entertain themselves (I was always within sight of the car). I managed to find a bag with some mini rice cakes with chocolate drizzle, and these served as a fine treat for a very patient 3-year old and very tolerant 17-month old.

Canon 7D with Canon 400mm f5.6 and stacked 2x and 1.4x teleconverters, tripod.
The use of 2 teleconverters is not recommended for still photography except in occasions where it’s better to have a record photo rather than no photo at all. You lose quite a bit of sharpness and contrast. You can get away with it more easily in video though, where your filming at 1/60 second.]
[Photo is a single frame plucked from the video (1920x1080pixels).]