Monday, April 18, 2011

Bear Finds A Gopher. I Mediate.

Between worrying about my baby girl, Katie who decided to spend this weekend on an overnight wild cave adventure in Raccoon Mountain, TN, AND cleaning house for a Game of Thrones Series Premier medieval feast, AND worrying about my other baby girl Emma driving back to USF at 11:00 pm after the series premier ,  ... I did find a little time to do some wildlife management and transplant some datil peppers.

 The picture above was taken a little earlier. Bear thinks he's a German Shorthair Pointer whenever he gets a scent of gopher tortoise. The burrow that he is investigating so intently is now known as G-5. I had been wanting to ID my active gopher burrows for some time and this weekend, I made it so.
 G-5 is not your typical gopher burrow entrance. The usual entrance is simply a semi-circle slightly larger than the gopher's shell. This one was excavated by Bear months ago when the armadillo he was chasing dashed into the gopher burrow.
So now the gopher who lives there, "G-5", has a long sloping driveway down to the main entrance.
 I had some old lattice trim that I removed from the house perimeter last summer so I used it for my gopher burrow marking posts. I marked 7 active burrows in a short walk and I ignored all burrows that did not show undeniable evidence of excavation or skid tracks.
 Even though everything has greened up and the best burning time was a few months ago, I was still able to do some micro-burns near G-5's burrow to encourage nutritious sprouts and new growth. You can just make out the green stake marking G-5's burrow off to the left of the picture.
 Palmettos love a good burn and this one had a wide crown of dead fronds that shaded out gopher food plant growth as well as providing excellent rattlesnake hiding cover.
Nothing against the rattlers, but Bear is a very private pooper and he likes to tuck in to the bushes to "get busy".
I always worry when he does that around palmettos since rattlers are so fond of resting among them. Burning the dead fronds away makes this spot a little less cozy for the big diamondbacks.
On one Bear walk this weekend, I spied the elusive G-7 gopher ... about 100 feet in front of us. He had sensed us first and was making a bee line for the safety of his huge burrow.

Unfortunately, Bear spotted him at almost the exact same time.

I had Bear on a 30 foot training lead and it was all I could do to hang on as he raced for the tortoise. He got there first of course.

Poor G-7 simply stopped and tucked in all his parts. Bear was all slobberized and droolslingy by then. G-7 is one huge gopher, but Bear picked him up in his ginormous jaws for a moment before I got there.

I grabbed Bear by the collar and we did this circle dance around the gopher for a while. I wish you could feel the power in this dog.

He's pretty amazing when he gets into "inner wolf" mode.

He's pretty irritating too, since while in wolf mode,, he apparently goes deaf to the sound of human voices.

G-7 is a large male gopher who I never seem to catch out of his burrow, although the evidence of fresh excavation work is always present. I was thrilled to find him out even if he was not crazy about our encounter. The video shows that eventually, G-7 did make it back to his snug home. 

It also shows that Bear was able to refocus on the orginal task of trail running and sniffing stuff.

So, now that my gophers have names like G-1, G-2, etc, I will introduce you to individual tortoises as we cross paths this year.

Like reality TV, only without any drama at all.


tai haku said...

Hilarious vid. Game of Thrones is literally just about to premiere over here so I will have to forgo the last 20 secs of the vid for now!

kathy a. said...

ooh, i'm a little dizzy!

that video is so funny. one of our cats in charleston tried to catch a turtle in the yard. it was kind of a slow-speed chase; the turtle would tuck in until the cat got bored, then trot on for a few paces until the cat came back, etc.

bear really responds to "dog food," doesn't he?

Miz S said...

Ha ha! I love hearing you go all Alpha Dog on Bear.

Question: How do you know which tortoise goes with which hole? (I mean,of course,when you don't see them actually exiting or entering.) Do they all have identifying characteristics like size or shell pattern? And you just sort of get to know them? Enlighten me, O Wise One.

Sayre said...

Silly old Bear. He certainly is enthusiastic in his wildlife encounters. At least when you were telling him no, he at least appeared to think about it before going for it again...

Dan said...

Great video!

Floridacracker said...

LOL! Enjoy the show!

Kathy A,
The boy has a limited vocabulary, but "dog food" and "chewie" are definitely on it.

Miz S,
They don't roam to far from their burrow so usually if you catch them out, they head straight for their own ... and there is some territorial spacing (usually) that makes it easy to see who lives where.
Was that wise?

Tone of voice I think ...LOL!

Glad you liked it, Banjodani.

cinbad122 said...

You are too much! I needed a little Bear fix. :)

Lisa at Greenbow said...

These scenes remind me of some of the many encounters my Chocolate Lab and I had over the years. FUN. Bear walks you very good.

Ericka said...

silly ole bear. :-D

Floridacracker said...

Sometimes, I am.

Lisa at Greenbow,
Bear is very patient with me.
I had a chocolate Lab named Ranger for 16 years who I miss every day.

As they say around here, "He is eat up with the dumb@#@."

Lorac said...

i was ok with it, right up to "bad dog" and "no". your poor pup. he was doing normal dog stuff and getting in trouble for it. surely you can keep the tortoise from your dog without having to act like cesar milan.

Floridacracker said...

Chill. My "poor dog" is much loved, adored actually, and he is not such a wuss that a stern command voice has any lasting effect.
Apparently it does affect you.
Read another blog.

Julie Zickefoose said...

It's clear that Lorac has never been in charge of a young Lab. I have--I raised and attempted to train a black Lab pup for elderly landlords. My first goal was to try to keep her from knocking them down and breaking every bone in their bodies. Limited success there in the time I had with her. I never succeeded in training her to leave my rehabilitated songbirds alone. If you don't go all Cesar Milan on a Lab, you're not going to get anywhere. An excited dog channeling his inner wolf doesn't respond to polite entreaties. It needs direct commands, and an occasional cuff. "Poor dog," my foot. Bear is one of the luckiest dogs on the planet. He just has a case of the puppies. He'll calm down and trot right by those tortoises with just a sniff in oh, about four years...until then he's going to need a very strong hand. He's a whole lotta dog, with a whole lotta owner.

Oh. I seem to have turned into a flying blogmonkey. Whoops!

Loved this video, and the ring around the rosy of trying to keep poor ol' G-7 out of Bear's reach. Loved the scoot into the burrow!

Take heart. Chet found a box turtle yesterday, led us right to it, gave it a sniff, and walked on. He used to chew them, too!

Lorac said...

well, julie and florida cracker, you are both dinosaurs. enjoy each other's company. when you come into the 21st century, you'll find that dogs CAN learn just fine with kinder, gentler, positive reinforcement methods. just the kind that you use on your kids. oh, maybe you don't use those methods on your kids, but instead yell at them, because they can take it. and if not, buck up kids.

p.s. julie, i have had labs. and they didn't need a hard hand.

Floridacracker said...

I feel quite primeval.

Julie Zickefoose said...

As do I. Shall we have lunch?

Floridacracker said...

You rascal Zick, I was just writing you an email.