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Pahrump Mirror
Pahrump, Nevada
May 8, 1997     Pahrump Mirror
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May 8, 1997

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It Outdoors / Operation Game Thief: 1.800-992-3030 Operation Cal. Tip: 1.800-952-5400 Pahrump Valley Gazette, Thursday, May 8, 1997 31 Wildlife Photography With Blinds by Edward Tomchin Wildlife photography, from shooting ducks at the park to capturing lion and elk on the mountain, present a highly rewarding challenge to the photographer, both professional and amateur. Pure chance shooting, that is, hiking or driving to a known wildlife gathering place and hoping to get some good shots by chance provides a far larger number of disappointing shots than you'd care to have. Soon you'd lose interest because the reward wasn't pro- portionate to the time and trouble taken. You can improve your photographic hits by taking a few simple measures, such as using blinds, decoys, calling de- vices and stalking. In this piece I will talk about blinds, or hides, which are used to hide from our photo- graphic subjects and hope it makes them blind to our presence. At least until we can get a few good closeup shots. About half of my bird and mammal photography has been done from a blind of one form or another. One readily effective blind that I use frequently is my vehicle. Wildlife have become so accustomed to ve- hicles that you can get very close to them in your car or truck, which allows you to rest your camera on the window ledge for those longer shots. A beanbag makes a great camera rest. Once you've spotted your subject, gently coast to the best vantage point and stop. If you've already gone past the best spot to stop, continue down the road sufficient distance not to alarm the animal, then gently turn around and come back, gently slowing to a stop at the fight place. Shut off your engine to minimize both noise and vibra- tion. Make the best use of this spot, because if you start your engine to move, the animal will beat a hasty retreat. If you sit for a few moments, the animal will decide that your car is just another silly hrududu and ignore it. In organized parks wildlife has become so habituated to human beings that you don't need to be hidden to photo- graph them. However, note that it is against regulations to use blinds in National Parks and Recreation Areas that would disturb the local environment. This leaves only the mesh blind described below as the only acceptable alterna- tive for National Parks. Blinds can be made from many different materials and can take many different forms. One excellent blind I have used successfully in the past is an old refrigerator carton painted camouflage with a doorway and lens flaps cut into the sides. Cut off the top, put a crossbar from one corner to the other to give it lateral strength and you'll have a fine blind in which you can sit, stand and move about without frightening any wildlife in the area. Make other modifica- tions to suit. Another excellent blind is camoflage mesh netting which can be purchased inexpensively at most surplus or sporting goods stores. This is one of the most portable blinds there is. Just drag your stool, tripod and camera to your location. Set up. Then drape the camouflage netting over you and your outfit, cut slits for shooting and prepare to fire. The large mesh allows plenty of airflow, but you can't be seen from a distance. And you can move it as easily as you move BIG HORN SHEEP- This cioseup photo is typical of the kind you can get with a proper photo blind. photo by Edward Tomchin the rest of your equip- ment. Place your blind in front of a bush, tree, fence row or other natural vegetation to break up its silhouette and make the blind as invisible is possible. If you're going for birds your blind can be placed with no re- gard for wind direc- tion since birds have a very poor sense of smell. This same rule holds for most rodents such as squirrels, chipmunks, etc. For all other mam- mals, wind direction becomes important because if they smell you, they won't come within shooting distance of the blind. Always sit downwind of your shooting location. The pre- vailing winds are from the west at most times. In hot weather, pin up all viewing ports and leave the back and top open to increase a cooling airflow. Since stools with straight legs sink into the ground, a good strong stool with tubular runners should be used. Carry a small cooler for snacks, drinks and film. If you want to make your house a blind, you must attract wildlife to it by creating the proper habitat. Find out what kind of birds and small animals are common to your loca- tion, then create a plac where they will be attracted to feed, nest, mate and have young. Make sure it's safe from other predators. The animals will come to know this in time and word will get around that your place is a refuge that serves good food. Once the animals are coming regularly, you can begin to photograph them at your leisure. Don't shoot through your windows if you can help it. Build a permanent blind a respectable distance from the habitat you've created, but make sure you have the best of all possible views. If you do choose to shoot from inside, keep the window spotlessly clean, both inside and out at all times. Lower the light level in the room you are shooting from. Shoot from behind drapes or hang a dark blanket behind your camera to prevent your reflection from showing on the glass. Shoot with a polarizer if you have sufficient light and film speed to reduce glare from the glass. I know of one person who hung camou- flage drapes and cut a large slit in the drapes for the41ens. Using these tricks should give you some wonderful opportunities to photograph wildlife up close and personal. The rest is up to you. Fishing Report by Geoff Schneider Nevada Division of Wildle LAKE MEAD -- Striped bass fishing finally showed signs of improvement last week as boaters reported finding good success around Fish Island in the Overton Arm. The Nevada Division of Wildlife reports some action for stripers is also coming from the Meadows and the Stewart's Point areas. Stripers are also being caught in deep water in Las Vegas Bay. Largemouth bass fishing remains productive with fish being pulled from brush in coves. Spinner baits and artificial worms appear to be the most productive baits for catching the fish. LAKE MOHAVE --Striped bass fishing contin- ues to be only fair in the Cottonwood Cove area while the action is slow around Willow Beach. Boaters are still catching stripers with anchovies in the narrows above Cottonwood. Even so, few anglers have managed to catch more than three or four fish. Largemouth bass fishing has been very good with one group of two fishermen reeling in eight bass that weighed from two to four pounds. The fish were taken in shallow water near the north power lines. WAYNE E. KIRCH WILDLIFE MANAGE- MENT AREA --Trout fishing has shown periods when it is absolutely fabulous while on other occa- sions anglers have struggled to get a bite. Over the weekend a pair of boaters reported catch- ing and releasing nearly 70 trout at Haymeadow Reservoir. A fly fisherman also reported doing ex- tremely well on Saturday. However, by Monday the action had tapered off dramatically. Largemouth bass fishing is beginning to improve with some fish being caught at Adams-McGill Reser- voir. EAGLE VALLEY RESERVOIR --Trout fishing continues to be good in the reservoir because of heavy stocking by the Division of Wildlife. Stream fishing has been fair for the few anglers who have been trying their luck for brown trout. ECHO CANYON RESERVOIR --Fishing has been good for rainbow trout, but slow for largemouth bass and crappie. Campers have been enjoying excel-' lent weather with mild daytime temperatures and cool evenings.