VetsWork: “Welcome to the Wild Side!”

Kyle Davies

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Elk are nature’s version of loiterers. Always hanging around.

I’ve seen a lot of things in my life. The sun getting blotted out by a sandstorm, a river swallowing a tank and a whole line of cars sliding downhill on a sheet of ice to name a few. I’ve learned to keep a careful eye on nature. The truly troubling thing about nature is that it keeps track of us as well. I’m going to show you some of nature’s watchers.

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Just because you can’t see him doesn’t mean he doesn’t see you.

First up is the sneaky lizard. He is rather subtle in his observation habits. I was able to obtain this photo while doing fence inventory in the Upper Imnaha area. It was a day of dodging rattlesnakes and climbing steep hills to make this photo happen. You probably can’t see it, but he had a clear glint of amusement in his eyes as he watched me. Next is the combined air and water watcher.

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Air or water there is no cover from the watchful eyes of these ducks.

These can be found patrolling the local water developments in the Chesnimnus Allotment. While some people in city parks try bribing them with food I would not recommend trying it out in their native habitats. I knew a man that lost a whole arm to a hungry duck out in the wild. They also like to use ducklings as bait to lure in the unwary. I would say approach with caution, but it’s far safer not to approach at all. The one good thing about ducks is that they make a lot of noise when moving fast so you at least have some warning to hightail it. The next one doesn’t share that reassuring trait.

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Chipmunks, nature’s stealth missiles.

They are among the smallest of nature’s observers, but should not be underestimated. When necessary they are able to move with a speed that must be seen to be believed. A chipmunk could be 50 feet away and then you blink and its only 25 feet away. They put horror movie monsters to shame in terms of unnatural speed. If you ever find yourself pursued by one make sure that you have someone with you that runs slower than you do. Also a light dusting of nuts to enhance your decoy is a good idea.

When out in nature make sure to keep an eye out. It is beautiful, but it is also perilous out there in the wild. You can be sure that there is always something out there keeping an eye on you.

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VetsWork: A new year, a new place, and a new opportunity.

Kyle Davies

Blackmore Scenic View 0202 #2

I really didn’t expect so many new things to come with 2016. When I was still in 2015 browsing the Boise Craigslist for a new job I had rather conservative hopes for the coming months. I had no way of knowing how much change I was going to experience with the coming of 2016. Thanks to the Mt. Adams Institute I am now in scenic Joseph, Oregon working in the great outdoors. The fact that I get to work outside so much is already great, but that I get to work in areas like Hells Canyon and the Wallowa-Whitman National Forest is just icing on the cake. Oh, did I mention that the bunkhouse I get to live in is within walking distance of Wallowa Lake? It’s still a little cold to take full advantage of the outdoor opportunities in the area, but that’ll change in due time.

Blackmore 0206 Scenic View

One of the less pleasant aspects of the area is the rather unpredictable weather. It can quickly go from warm and sunny to snowing in the same day. When out hiking for work or for pleasure I have to be ready for anything, which means a backpack at least half full of winter clothing. Another reason to have a wide selection of clothing on hand is the variety of elevations that I work in. I can be up on a mountain helping with timber or way down in the bottom of Hells Canyon inventorying allotment fences and water developments.

Blackmore Scenic View 0202 #1

The weather tends to put limits on how much fieldwork can be done in the early months. A lot of the higher elevations are closed off due to snow still making the areas impassible. When there is a good day we try to take full advantage of it and spend a full day out in the field. I’ve been devoting most of my field time to the Blackmore Allotment in the Upper Imnaha area. It’s pretty steep going in a lot of areas. The elevation is typically about 2,600 feet near the river, but rises as high as 4,000 feet for some of the areas that I’ve inventoried. A lot of the terrain is inaccessible by vehicle so I tend to put in a lot of legwork on a good field day. I even get to play hide and seek with many water developments whose locations are only roughly marked on old maps. When I find them I fix their exact locations with GPS so that they can later be entered into the GIS system for easy review later.

Blackmore Elk #1

It’s only the start of my internship here in Joseph, but I’m already enjoying myself. I’m getting to know the local people and the area itself. I’ve already seen some nice country, but once the weather warms up I’ll be able to go to some really remote areas that no one has been to in decades.

Lostine Corridor 3_3_2016 #3

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