Upon the September grouse opener calls a particular mountaintop covert. The eastern aspect was burned out years ago, but a few mature pines remain. The understory boasts mixed grasses, dense burgundy ninebark, the occasional rose thicket and Oregon grape, and large snowbrush clumps encircled by all of the above. Beneath the sun’s resplendence on the shoulders of the day, the brushy cover exudes a unique vibrance against a backdrop of rugged river canyon, home to moose, elk, Rocky Mountain bighorn, and the “King of the Woods”, the ruffed grouse.Read more
The dove opener is a fancied event in many states across the U.S., including my Virginia hometown. While I personally looked forward to October squirrel and whitetail seasons most, I always made time for a few sultry evening tree line sits with friends, awaiting a passing shot at a dodgy mourning dove as it traveled between cut silage corn and farm ponds.
Fast forward 20 years to living west of the Rockies in southeast Washington, my interest in mourning doves had increased tremendously, largely due to a growing passion for upland bird hunting in general. Throw in the Eurasian collared dove and you’ve got the makings of a connoisseur of the dove species. Interestingly, my daily and season bags remain comparable to those of my youth, although my wingshooting has improved somewhat over the years, but 2020 had some tricks up her sleeve that led to the most memorable mourning dove season on record.
of the muzzle, ears, and wings of hibernating bat species across 35 states and seven Canadian provinces at present1. The fungus thrives in cold, damp conditions, perfectly suited for winter cave hibernacula. As it grows, the fungus causes changes in hibernating bats that make them become more active than usual and burn fat they need to survive the winter2.Read more
Stepping into a reach I had never laid eyes on, water spilled across the floodplain through newly cut side channels, occupied new backwaters, and spilled through massive apex log jams. Beautiful pools formed below the jams and behind precisely placed root wads. Riffles spilled across cobble bars parallel to the head of the pool, forming textbook dry-fly dead-drifting waters, irresistible to inhabiting trout.Read more
There are worse things in life than kicking back on the boat on a gorgeous spring morning while the downriggers troll a small squid bait in the vicinity of a kokanee school. Birds are nesting and singing. Trees and flowers are in full bloom, casting brilliant hues from the lake canyon walls. You notice a sizable blob appear on the depth-finder and prepare for the strike. Moments later, you reel up a 10-inch kokanee, chrome-bright and destined for the cooler. You can already taste that bold blend of curry-like flavors, coriander, chili pepper, with a sharp hint of lime. Paired with a crisp rose or chardonnay, the complexity of flavors puts this recipe at the top of the list to share with friends and family. Or not, as kokanee are a prize, not to be squandered.Read more
Woody plant expansion into shrub and grasslands poses a significant ecosystem issue for multiple uses. In the Great Basin of North America, pinyon–juniper expansion into the sagebrush biome is threatening the greater sage grouse, a sagebrush obligate species, as well as pronghorn, mule deer, and livestock grazing due a major shift in the vegetation community and associated ecosystem components.Read more
Whether you realize it or not, most outdoor enthusiasts are phenological scientists. You may never have published in a peer-reviewed scientific journal or even considered proper phenology as practical in everyday life. Maybe you’ve never even heard of phenology. But if you appreciate the outdoors or even just vegetable gardening, chances are, you’re a seasoned phenologist.Read more
On April 21st, Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland announced that $78 million in grants has been approved by the Migratory Bird Conservation Commission (Commission). Grant funds will made available through the provide the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and its partners the capability to conserve or restore nearly 500,000 acres of wetland and associated upland habitats across North America.
Established in 1929 under the Migratory Bird Conservation Act, the Commission was created and authorized to review and approve for U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) purchase or rental, any lands and waters recommended consider and approve any areas of land and/or water recommended by the Secretary of the Interior. The Commission has helped in conserving much of this nation’s most important waterfowl habitat and establish or enhance many of the country’s most popular waterfowl hunting and birding destinations.
I fished my first desert stream when my good friend and fly-fishing sensei, Chas Kyger, moved to Washington State. Both transplants from the same Appalachian hometown, we interestingly ended up three hours apart working as fish biologists.
Spring can offer formidable conditions in the Pacific Northwest mountains, where high flows and snow melt careen through narrow canyon creeks. Spring on a desert creek, however, can be epic, with early warming waters and insect hatches.
A hard left from the Columbia River pointed us toward a large desert canyon, characterized by steep, rocky bluffs, talus, and sagebrush. Various alfalfa, wheat, and corn crops created a lush patchwork landscape across the canyon floor broken only by the random cattle or horse pasture.
The monarch butterfly presents a continent-wide icon of the butterfly genera. Its red-orange wings with defining black outlines and white freckles once danced over pastures, thistle and milkweed across their North American range, but land use changes since the 1980s have dramatically affected monarch populations.Read more