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Pahrump Mirror
Pahrump, Nevada
May 15, 1997     Pahrump Mirror
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May 15, 1997

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q)utdoors / Operation Game Thief: 1-800-992-3030 Operation Cal- Tip: 1-800.952-5400 PahrumpValley Gazette, Y, May 5, i997 27., -:,?. Inrecent occurs in nature d ha one of the able for waste:water systems. treatment plants. Formaldehyde is also found in.sueheon produots as ....... plywood, particle board, veneer, permanent pres fabrics, foods, such Bringing inthe wild ones by Ed Tomchin The proper blind and decoy combination can bring in wildlife which would not otherwise be approachable, allowing you to get some very close, personal and exciting photographs. The great blue heron, which is indigenous to Southern Nevada and found at many small lakes and reservoirs is a safe bellwether for most other waterbirds. It is notoriously wary and essentially a loner. Therefore, ifa heron is standing along the shore of a lake, ducks, geese and other waterfowl instinctively know the area is safe. Migrating birds settle fearlessly on a body of water where they see a great blue because they instinctively know there are no threats in the area. It's a safe haven. The fact that a heron decoy never moves would not have alerted the birds because great blues can and do stand for hours on end without moving. It is a natural behavior for them. The use of decoys is neither new to hunting nor to photography, although photographers were somewhat late in picking up this useful tactic. The use of decoys goes far back into the dark reaches of human history. Ancient natives used decoys to lure animals in for the kill. Without decoys, whole tribes might have gone hungry or been forced to move to more productive areas. Nevada archaeologists found numerous ancient duck decoys which had been stashed in Lovelock Cave, a large cave that opens up onto fossil Lake Lahontan, more than 2,000 years ago. Fishhooks, nets and hooks on setlines were found in the cave alongside the duck decoys: Other types, including mammal decoys, have been discovered at various ancient sites throughout the Southwest. Some eastern tribes dressed for a hunt by donning deer heads, antlers and sometimes even skins. Evidence has been found indicating the use of blinds and decoys of all kinds throughout this land's ancient past. Stick frame figures holding draped animal skins have lured many an unwary animal to its hasty demise, yet likely much to the pleasure of a hungry band of hunters. Sometime during the last century, hunters and craftsmen began carving realistic decoys for use in hunting shorebirds. It is common knowledge among hunters that using decoys make their hunts far more successful. The same tricks will work when you are hunting with a camera. Using duck decoys in conjunction with a great blue decoy is an excellent way to draw in many types of shorebirds, especially along migratory routes. Set up your blind near the shore of a lake and lay your decoys near the water's edge. Keep them close to the blind so they don't appear in your photos along with the real wildlife. An additional benefit of #acing your decoys close to your blind is that it tacitly indicates the blind is also safe and not a threat to the birds. Don't worry about wind carrying your scent to the birds. Most birds' senseof smell is poor. It is their eyesight that is sharp. However, wind direction is important in the placement of your blind and decoys because birds, like planes, generally land into the wind. They also swim with the wind after landing, so if the wind direction is toward your blind or crosswind to it, your chances of success are greatly increased. Place your decoys to the side of the blind away from the wind. Most incoming birds will land upwind from your decoys, placing them in front of your blind in perfect position for some prize photographs. Decoys also work well for pulling in birds of prey, such as the red- tailed hawk and golden eagle, both of which abound in Southern Nevada. However, the dynamics are somewhat different. To get great winged predator shots, it's best to work the migration ridges in spring and fall. These are the mountain ridges that cause updrafts which hawks and eagles love to ride while searching for breakfast or dinner. You'll be able to pull some beautiful raptors into camera range by placing a decoy such as a great homed owl on a long pole near the edge of a clearing where hawks hunt. The clearing must be a decent size in order to allow you the time and distance to get some great photos. Don't forget, these birds come in smooth, fast and ready for anything. Deer and elk also respond to decoys well. In fact, you should be able to get some great shots of these animals using any of the types of decoys available (full-bodied, silhouette or collapsible decoys in either a standing or bedded position). You can also make deer decoys interchangeably does or bucks by putting on or leaving off the antlers, depending on what sex animal you want to pull in. With deer, hiding your scent is important since most ungulates (hoofed animals) have a very keen sense of smell. Try putting the decoy 50 to 75 feet upwind from your blind. The first deer to arrive should have its attention immediately directed toward the decoy, not to your blind, which this distance will accomplish. If you are fortunate, a deer will attempt to attack your decoy, giving you some great action shots. A key point: Don't try to photograph the first animal that arrives. It' s likely it is not alone, and if that first animal accepts your decoy and blind and begins to graze, the rest will follow easily and confidently, giving you the potential for some fantastic wildlife photography. Only risk photographing the first animal into your "shooting zone" if it is a once-in-a-lifetime shot. Having a second or third creature come into the area doesn't increase their alertness, it subdues their suspicions and puts them both more at ease, allowing you more time to get better shots. s A WORD ABOUT QUIET: Today, cameras are far quieter than in the past, especially if you use one of the large formats. However, even the mirror slap of a 35mm is sufficient tO .scatter birds and mammals. Older, larger format cameras sometimes sound like a screen door slamming shut. The only solution is to make a cover for your camera that will dampen and diffuse the sound of mirror slap (and film advance in automatic cameras). Wrap your camera with suffi- cient soft foam or cloth to prevent the camera's natural sounds from carrying far enough to startle your wild subjects. Shooting from inside a blind also reduces the noise which can be heard outside the blind. However, an animal's hearing is very sharp and care must be taken to prevent it from being startled before you have had a chance to shoot. To learn more about getting in close with your camera, pick up any good book on stalking and hunting wild animals. A caveat to keep in mind is that a photographer has to get much closer for a decidedly longer period of time to get a good picture, than does a hunter for a good, clean rifle shot. Getting good wildlife photos is a much greater challenge. Hunters also have strict roles and restrictions placed on the use of blinds, decoys and calls. None of them apply to photographers. With the exception of some National Parks, photographers are readily allowed to employ blinds, decoys and calls in pursuit of their art. In a future column, I will explore how to get the most out of your decoys and how to use various types of calls in conjunction with your decoys and blinds. Prehistoric tule reed duck decoys from Lovelock Cave, Nevada. Decoy with duck Decoy with duck feathers inserted. Fishing Report by Geoff Schneider Nevada Division of Wildlife LAKE MEAD- Anglers continue to find fair action for striped bass and largemouth bass in the Boulder Basin and Overton Arm. Large threadfin shad are being netted at Hemenway Harbor and used for bait. This is somewhat unusual because shad typically do not appear along shore until June or July. Some of the better areas for stripers have been Pumphouse Cove, the intake tower, Saddle Island and Boxcar Cove in the Boulder Basin. Fishing is also reported to be good at the Meat Hole in the Overton Arm. Largemouth bass continue to be taken from brush in coves. Coves toward the north end of the Overton Arm have been particularly productive for bass. LAKE MOHAVE --Striped bass fishing continues to be fair for the few anglers who have been trying their luck. Largemouth bass fishing is also fair with fish weighing up to five pounds being taken. One angler had good luck over the weekend by using lead line to troll deep. He caught a number of two-pound stripers in the South Basin. Small stripers are still being caught in deep water around Cottonwood Cove. Very little action for stripers or trout is being found at Willow Beach. EAGLE VALLEY RESERVOIR --Fishing contin- ues to be good for stocked rainbow and brown trout at the Lincoln County State Park. Boaters have been taking limits of five fish by fishing in the upper portion of the lake. Shore fishing is fair from the dam and fishing pier. ECHO CANYON RESERVOIR -Trout fishing is fair to good while the action for largemouth bass and crappie is still below par. The lake's water level is low and continues to decline. SCHROEDER RESERVOIR ,-Anglers report slow trout fishing in the reservoir, but fair action in the stream below the lake. Roads leading to the state park are now in fair condition. URBAN PONDS --Plans call for channei catfish to be stocked Thursday in ponds at Floyd Lamb State Park, Lorenzi Park and Sunset Park. Fish for the plants are being shipped from commercial growers in Arizona, L .