What's not to lek? 2014
Stopped by aunt & uncle's house in Three Forks on the way to basecamp (couldn't turn down a dinner invitation); then off to the Beaverhead valley
set up camp
and then over to headquarters next door for the latest on the grouse; counts have been solid and the weather looked good for the next 3 days with clear skies and cold mornings (13, 15 and 18 degrees) to firm up the roads
wasn't sure which dog was going to be at camp this time; turned out it was my gal, Sal
plenty of light left and I needed to stretch my legs so I took a walk around town, especially to check out the damage from the July 17 flood; climbed the hills to get some bird's eye views
then up Hangman's Gulch, where the flash flood originated; streambed was somewhat scoured
nothing to stop it from slamming into town, destroying one of the buildings and leaving mud and debris in most of the others; the cleanup crews did a fantastic job getting things back in order and with a new boardwalk, the place looks great
one-car garage, detached
tools of the trade
headed down the creek to see how it fared - looked good, saw a few risers; by Opening Day in 3 weeks it'll probably be a good bit higher and more brown than green
luckily I didn't come across momma or her calf in the willows
first morning out; 9 males looking for love in all the right places, no hens seen although one was heard a couple hundred yards from observation point
into town for fuel (carne asada tacos, yum)
and since I have afternoons to do a bit of this and that, the latest info
My wife and I went there a few years back, in the summer, during the annual Bannack Days celebration. Of course there were a few more people in town then than when you were there.
Originally Posted by John Rhoades
Probably a few more mosquitos, too (although they lit into me pretty good up at the head of CC Reservoir). Unfortunately, the flood wiped that out in 2013.
Next morning it was off to a new, for me, site (the one I mentioned in the Easter Sunday report that had been inactive since 2012). Spooked mama and baby moose on the drive in; surprisingly, the only ones I saw all week, although there was plenty of fresh sign everywhere in the creek bottoms.
lenticular over the Tendoys
By 7:30 it was pretty obvious the birds weren't coming; waited 'till 9:00 and started walking, looking for mysteries without any clues
found some scat, but it was pretty old
back on the road and heading out of town
Next day was a washout
so it was over the pass for a little walk in the water; tons of olives coming off but nobody wanted to play. Struck out here
but managed a few in the main stem
Next morning, back to day 1 site; again, a stag party. A large raptor crashed the party just about the time they announced last call. Didn't get a real good look, but from 1200 yards I don't think it was an eagle; the grouse didn't panic-flush like I've seen when goldens are in the vicinity, so it may have just been a noisy red-tail.
Lots of fresh sign on this lek. The tar-like stuff on top of the scat is cecal matter (the grouse processes part of their sage leaf diet separately)
Side trip to the head of the pond
to see how this year's rainbow crop is doing; lots of active redds, lots of mosquitos
Rotated between 2 very active sites for the last 3 days; again, lots of males but no hens. Perhaps I've discovered a flock of hermaphrodites.
Don't have much of a zoom on the camera, and this lek's about a mile away on private property, so no chance to get closer. Tried some shots through the scope and got a few passable ones; the white dots are the breasts of the males, pretty easy to spot even in low light conditions
Last evening in camp
my neighbor drops over to say goodbye in the morning
Heading out of camp
Just as I turn onto the main road, I finally spot a hen; luckily she didn't end up a live speed-bump
Off to some fishing, a bit farther north.