What’s The Worst That Can Happen

Yellowstone National Park

“Come On let’s do it.”

“Leave me alone Earl.”

“Come on boo, it’ll be cool.”

“No, You always do this. And I catch it big time because I listened to you. No, not after last time.”

“Come on… She’ll have forgotten all about that, it was days ago.”

“Yeah right she doesn’t forget anything.”

“What about that time she left us up in the tree all night. She forgot which one she sent us up.”

“She didn’t forget you doofus. Old Split Tooth was coming around. If you remember, you still got the marks on your butt where he tried to catch you. You were squealing pretty good if I remember right. He fell asleep right at the foot of the tree all night. Mama had a cow until he left.”

“Well that was a little serious. She won’t remember this because it’s small stuff. Mama don’t sweat the small stuff.”

“Just like she didn’t sweat the small stuff when you thought it would be funny to see how many nipples you could get in your mouth at one time. She carried you around by the scruff of your neck for two whole days. The skin on your neck is just now looking normal.”

“That was then this is now. I was younger and slower then. Let’s do it it’ll be fun. You bite her on that spot by her tail that she licks all the time and I’ll jump on her face and hold my paws over her eyes. She won’t even know it was us I bet. Then we’ll hide behind this log. Get ready and bite her. Come on, what’s the worst that can happen.”

We Need To Talk

Does this picture make my ears look big? Click to see more

Listen we need to talk. It’s about this clock thing, the setting it back an hour that you guys do every year when it starts to get cold. I know I’ve heard some humans talking about it as they walk by. How it makes it dark at 3:30 in the afternoon and it’s still dark when you get up in the morning. It really causes us a problem. See it doesn’t matter to us what your clock says. We get up when it’s light and we go to bed when its dark. It’s an agrarian thing. Unless of course we ‘ve been eaten by something during the night, then all bets are off.

I’ve got kids, three of them. Solenoid, Nodule and Edna, the triplets. Yeah I know, I was lucky, but even so that’s the last time I’m going out with that smooth talking buck from Loveland. The point is though, they’re all just one year old and don’t have the brains god gave a toaster, but they’re good kids. The problem is now that it’s night way early for you folks, you’re driving in the dark earlier, the visibility is dorked, and my goofy half-witted kids are standing on the side of the road, in the road, in the ditch ready to dart out whenever a synapse fires in their tiny little brains and you’re tooling along thinking about dinner or whatever and there’s my little ones in your lights.

Yes, the obvious answer is “Hey! don’t stand in the road.” There is an answer for that and it’s a function of what makes us Mule deer. We’re prey animals. We exist to feed other animals up the food chain. Cougars, they’re the really mean ones, Wolves, not too big a problem unless you live in Yellowstone, Wild dogs, a problem anywhere, and unfortunately you guys. Yes I know, you don’t start home with the idea of hunting and killing us, or even hitting us for that matter. Many of you don’t want to, just because of issues with your insurance companies. But because we are prey animals the safest places at night or the edge of it, dusk, are open spaces like meadows, those flat grassy places behind high schools with all the white lines on them, yards, yards are nice, and the open areas along the roads you guys use to get where you’re going. Shoulders, verges, bar ditches, medians, berms, especially at night, that’s when the creepy things are out to get us so it’s safer to be somewhere where we can see for along way.

I’ve been asked “Why then, do you run into the path of the oncoming traffic, I know you said your kids are dumb, but wouldn’t it be better instead to race back into the shadows of the forest, eh?”. Therein lies the very answer to that question. The forest isn’t safe at night. Safe from you maybe but not from the dark evil things that like to eat us. Some of you have also driven into the forest with what I believe has been the express notion of getting us, and if all those trees hadn’t stopped you, you would have. I don’t why you do that. The end result is still a broken vehicle and the same insurance issues, but you’re the smart ones, so we have to defer to your ultimate wisdom.

My little ones had a near death experience the other night by running out in front of this 18 wheeler. Luckily the driver was able to lock it up and not hit them. I asked them why they did that and their answer was, “the other side of the road was the only thing they could see in all that bright light so they went for it.” We don’t have the ability or the spatial recognition to judge the relative speed of an oncoming vehicle, especially in the dark, so our threat assessment is all screwed up and we become 100 lbs. of ground round before we can get out-of-the-way.

What’s the answer? Simple. Kill all the cougars, wolves, bears, and wild dogs so we can stay back in the woods. That would be cool. If that doesn’t work for you, slow down. Watch for those deer on highway signs. Did you know they were put there because a deer was killed there. We’re creatures of habit. One of us getting taken out doesn’t change the fact that we’ve been using that crossing since before a road was there.

Yes I’ll talk to the kids again. Nodule shows some promise, but the juries still out on Solenoid and Edna, so I don’t hold out much hope. But I will try. Meanwhile put yourself in my place. Cougars and wolves on one side. 3000 lb. unyielding metal monsters that wouldn’t recognize a Mule deer if it slammed through their radiators. Give us a break please. Seeya in the Spring when they put the clocks back to normal. If we make it. Ciao

Damp Secrets

Note to Readers: Some of you are no doubt aware of the closing and disappearance of *The Institute and its Director some time ago. It was a great loss to the scientific world and others who came to depend on it for its constant focus on the mysteries and unbelievable occurrences that take place daily in the unique world of science and beyond. Also some of you may know that The Director and I were very close and consequently when the time came for the storing and protection of the thousands of records, papers, dissertations, reports, receipts, photographs, line drawings, notes, candid recorded conversations, DVD’s, CD’s, books, magazines, letters, everything that an Institute would produce in the every day workings of a huge but giant scientific endeavor he turned to me and said “Can I dump this crap on you for awhile? At least until I can find some suckers investors to get this Institute thing back on its feet?” Of course I couldn’t say no to my friend of so many years and accordingly two and a half large U-Haul’s arrived stuffed to the gills with countless black trash bags containing the entire recorded history of The Institute. In the attempted cataloging of all of this material I came across what appears to be an un-submitted report titled The Aquatic Life of The Rocky Mountain Bighorn Sheep. It is in a very rough draft form and I have elected to publish it exactly as it was found, warts and all. No redactions, no alterations, no dressing it up. After all, life and science aren’t always tidy or even pretty. A lot of stuff is glossed over and hidden by the various organizations that prepare these types of publications as the paper goes into preparation for submission to the various scientific journals that publish this kind of work. And The Institute was not an exception. The large unwashed and uninformed layman or laypeople (and even some of the small slim ones) that read it because it’s free, who don’t have a scientific background and usually couldn’t care less about this stuff yet do read it have to be pandered to. So with that thought in mind here follows what is the initial draft of the report in its entirety.

Title proposals for the Bighorn sheep report:

The Aquatic Life of The Rocky Mountain Bighorn Sheep

” Wet Sheep and Those That Love Them”

“Damp Hooves and the Sheep that Own Them”

“Heavy Boney Horns and How They Help In Keeping Bighorn Sheep Submerged”

“The Untold Story of Bighorn Sheep and Their Aquatic Adventures”

“Why Bighorn sheep will Willingly Spend Much of The Winter At the Bottom of Large Bodies of Water and How This affects Their Ability to Behave Normally in the Spring When They emerge and Why they Walk Funny for Days After”

“Damp Secrets” (Use this one. It’s a grabber. Sounds vaguely dirty. HBO fans will click on this one)

Premise: Bighorn Sheep are suspected of entering and remaining at the bottom of deep pockets of water in lakes and rivers in Yellowstone National Park to hibernate over the Winter when food supplies are minimal. Much like bears but wetter. Although this behavior has never been reported by Naturalists or Biologists or anyone else who knows what they’re talking about, that doesn’t mean that this can’t happen. It just means they’re probably doing a shoddy job. Grab this premise and run with it. The Enquirer and the Star have both raised their payment structure for this type of material. See if you can’t work “aliens” into the premise somehow. Also see if our contacts in Washington with the Department of Interior want to get in on this before their funding is completely cancelled due to the prevailing thought that Nature and wildlife and even the Interior are no longer necessary. Might as well grab what we can out of this debacle while there is still some money left.

Documents proving the theory: A crumpled up photo of a Bighorn sheep marked “Destroy not relevant unless you’re fabricating story”, that shows a Bighorn lying in an awkward position on a bank above the Lamar river. Still damp. (The sheep not the photo) Midges surrounding it after a hatch. ( could this midge behavior be one of the triggers that cause the Bighorns to awake and leave the depths of the water where we believe they hibernate over the winter. If this can’t be documented use it anyway as it’s a good tie-in that we can pitch to The Nature Channel, they’ll use anything if you can put an English accent voice-over on it.) Animal appeared to be lethargic and unresponsive to questions hollered at it. Noticed small trickle of what appears to be water dripping from nasal passages. Could this be the undocumented and completely unfounded Nasal Transference Reacclimation or “NTR”  where the water in the lungs is slowly replaced with oxygen so the sheep can return to their terran lifestyle?

The Bighorn rams appear to be extremely vulnerable at this state of their emergence due to their horns having been softened by their prolong submergence in the deep mineral rich waters found in the park. The composition of the horn is normally very dense and is made of a concrete-like material called “concreto” or sometimes “Acme Horn Hardener” that the sheep obtain by licking the surface of highways and parked concrete trucks. Those rams living nearest to construction sites will normally have the largest and hardest horns. But as this is uncured concrete which is not completely non-soluble, they are vulnerable to the leeching and decompositing of the horn material and the longer the submergence the more the horn becomes soft, and at extreme time intervals the horn will be completely absorbed by the watery surroundings. This is bad. If this happens the ram cannot be distinguished from the ewes and enters a transgendered state known as Hornlessness and can be made fun of by the other rams and even some of the less compassionate ewes. We don’t know what this does to the Ram’s psyche yet but a full investigation seems warranted. Note: check into suicide rates for hornless rams.

Some additional questions to be answered and documented, or at least made plausible sounding so we can put this out there and still be able to stand unashamed under any close scrutiny.

Question #1: What about ewes an lambs. Are they any better to eat after being submerged?

Question #2: How do the smaller animal stay anchored in some of the swifter flowing streams they enter? We surmise that the sticky almost tar-like coating on the bottom of their hooves becomes even stickier and adheres to the larger rocks and boulders at the bottom of the waterways. Also we believe they turn facing upstream and hunch down into a wedge-like shape that makes them streamlined. The force of the water rushing over their bodies helps push them down onto the surface of the stream bottom much the way scoops and spoilers keep a race car on the track, holding them in place. Plus they deflatulent themselves as they enter the water making them less buoyant. If you have noticed any bubbles or minor disturbances on the water’s surface this may be a clue to hibernating Bighorn sheep. This is a confirmed fact as I, and I know countless others have seen Bighorn sheep flatulently entering into bodies of water. We just didn’t understand what all the noise and hopping about and giggling was for.

Question #3: Can we get someone less intelligent to dive into these warm to boiling waters in Yellowstone, someone with a higher than normal pain tolerance, to photograph a small group of Bighorns or even a fairly large herd at rest beneath the surface to add more credence to this story? Maybe some shots with native Cutthroats acting as remora type attachments to the sheep’s back. Or possibly them feeding on the seaweed that grows on the bottom of the rivers or lakes?

Initial Summary for Submission:

We have found a unique new unknown behavioral pattern for the Rocky Mountain Bighorn sheep. After observation by our highly trained research professionals, each one a specialist specializing in a different discipline of animal behavioral patterns that are not your normal animal activity, and in fact tend to be grouped into Goofy, Unsubstantiated, Outright BullPucky, and the Difficult to Swallow but not Fake News categories, we have come to the conclusion that Rocky Mountain Bighorn sheep do something really weird. If it weren’t for finding a beat up wrinkled old photograph (see above) of a Bighorn sheep damply resting by the edge of the Lamar river we wouldn’t feel confident in making these surprising statements.

Rocky mountain Bighorn sheep hibernate through the Winter below the surface of various lakes and rivers in The Yellowstone area. Now, we’ve said it. There it is. Surprising? Yes. Impossible? Ah, maybe, but then again we got some good evidence here. And remember if we say it often enough you’re going to start believing it. That’s just a short jump from getting back in the funding business. And The Institute could be off and running again.

Hard as that may seem to believe the evidence is growing in support of this premise.

  • We have the somewhat damaged image of a damp Bighorn sheep resting on the river where he had just emerged from hibernation.
  • We have water emitting from the Bighorn’s nose as it undergoes Nasal Transference Reacclimation  or “NTR” where it trades the water that had been filling its lungs all Winter long with life giving oxygen so it can resume living on the land.
  • We have a Bighorn ram anxiously looking around for enemies and threats as its horns reharden in the afternoon sun.
  • We have documented sightings of bubbles and other small disturbances to the water’s surface indicating there are hibernating sheep below.
  • Plus a myriad of other inconclusive but sort of facts that we created to substantiate this theory.

So in general we feel pretty good about putting this out there. End of first draft. Get this proofread and ready for submission ASAP. Signed The Director.

This is the first of many scientific reports we know that are mixed in with all the other storage stuff from The Institute. As we sort through and find more unique studies we will be bringing them to your attention.

* Note: For those of you unfamiliar with The Institute and what it does, please see the page labeled The Institute on the Menu Bar above. That should explain everything. You shouldn’t have one single question remaining regarding The Institute after reading it. None. For those of you favored few who already know about the Institute, Nevermind. Return to your daily activities. Thank you for your support.

2017 Summer Games Yellowstone National Park

Billy Lightpaw Middle weight contender for the Broad-jump – Summer Games Yellowstone National Park.

 

As long time readers of the BigShotsNow blog you know that every 4 years Yellowstone National Park holds the Summer Games in preparation for the Wildlife Olympics with entrants from around the globe. This year the games are being held in Yellowstone once again with venues at Gibbons Meadows, the Madison river, Hayden Valley, the LeHardy Rapids, the Lamar valley and the Blacktail Flats area.

This is always an incredible experience with visitors attending from all over the world. As usual most of the events are standing room only as tickets have been sold out for many of the big events for the last two years. However most events have roadside observation areas set up to accommodate the overflow crowds. Be prepared for Bear Jams, Wolf Jams, Buffalo Jams, Otter Jams and every other jam you can think of as the various animal contestants make their way to the different events, while those humans attending Yellowstone for the first time slam on their brakes, throw open all four of the cars doors where  applicable, and race out to greet and get their first up-close view of the different contestants, leaving their vehicles unattended and blocking the roadway. This impacts traffic bringing it to a standstill for hours. As this also usually results in the arrival of the First Responders stationed throughout the park to take care of the maimed and wounded that occur from way too close encounters with animals that are wild and have never heard of Disney, it takes awhile before the visitors cars can be impounded and hauled off to be shredded. Prepare for long waits depending on the popularity of the contestant being viewed.

This years games are truly spectacular with many new participants such as one of the real contenders in the light heavy-weight broad jump, Mr. Billy Lightpaw, a fantastic looking black bear here shown settling into his patented “Squat and Jump” starting position. Mr. Lightpaw also known as Billy the Bumper to his friends, currently holds the amateur broad jumping record of 32′ 8″ set last fall at the pre-hibernation games outside of Ottawa and is considered to be a gold medal frontrunner. Notice the coiled spring like action of tucking his head in and rolling back on his powerful haunches prior to his launch. Simply incredible. This is why he’s a crowd favorite. This event has plenty of accessibility due to the wide open Hayden valley floor. Binoculars are highly recommended.

The Madison river will have a new event this year, in fact it’s the first time this event has been offered in the summer games and it is likely to be a huge crowd pleaser. It is the “Calf Drop” and it’s a doozy. There are no front-runners in this event due to the fact that only first time Buffalo mothers can enter. Those due to drop their calves during  the week of August 11th through August 22nd are automatically entered. As mentioned before there are no front-runners yet but the likelihood of twins and even in the rarest of circumstances triggering an automatic Gold medal, triplets, might be expected. There is a lot of interest in this event by the press and Mothers for Public Breastfeeding or the MBP as it’s known, around the world.

Another fun event for the whole family is being held at LeHardy Rapids this year. It’s the “Otter Fish Off'” and this event is one that ESPN has scheduled for prime time coverage. As you know from previous games this one is fast paced and exciting. Upstream at the top of the rapids, barrels of trout averaging 26″ to 41″ inches long and weighing up to 96 lbs. each are released to streak down the rapids where the contestants wait at the bottom. The Otter that gets the biggest fish with the least amount of personal  injury is scored on tenacity, conviviality, ferocity and good manners. This is a high interest event for the entire family and you may want to arrive a few days early to get a good seat.

The “Wolf Run” or “Elk Calf Take Down” is an event that is best watched on TV or the various Jumbo-trons set up along the highway as much of the action is out of sight due to the rugged terrain through the ponds and small streams in the heavily brushed area that is Blacktail Flats. This year we’ll have extra coverage as the various networks are employing their new “Wolf Drone” cameras which are able to follow the wolves as they run down the elk calves and drag them out of the buck brush where they like to hide. Odds on favorite this year is of course the Blacktail Flats Pack for their intimate knowledge of the area.

Gibbon meadows will again be the site of the contestants housing area, media outlets, Torch lighting, and the entrance and closing parades. A Special “I Paid A Lot Because I’m Special” Pass is needed to access this area. If you don’t already have one you might as well forget about it. There’s none left. Sorry. Seems like everybody is Special.

The Lamar valley is again host to one of the all time favorite events, “Buffalo Herding”. This event has been a staple of the Summer Games for as long as I have been making them up. It is not someone herding the Buffalo but instead the Buffalo proudly showing off their skill at being a herd member, their ability to ‘herd’ as it  were. There are synchronized marching exhibitions, where the different herds show off their ability to walk together with all four legs synchronized, which if you’ve never seen it before is mesmerizing. There is a herd bull “Bellowing” event where the different herd bulls get on opposite sides of the valley and bellow at each other until one runs away in shame. There is a new event this year where the herds travel along the valley floor with the newborns running alongside ( the little orange ones ) to see how long they can run with their tongues out. And last but not least the contest that pits the different herds against each other to show who can make the trip up the Gibbons Narrows to the meadows above the slowest. The resulting length of the traffic tie up from the buffalo jam decides the winner. Last years numbers to beat are eleven and a half miles of stalled traffic and five hours to make the six-mile trek up from the bottom of the falls to the summer grazing. Everyone travels at Buffalo speed for this one.

These are just the highlights of the summer games, there’s plenty more so start packing and head on up to Yellowstone for another amazing year of the Summer Games at Yellowstone National Park. We’ll look for you there.

Notch Watches A Bush

If you’ve ever spent any time with a moose you may have noticed that they have the average I.Q. of an avocado. That’s not to say that they can’t carry on a conversation or do simple sums it means that as far as being an ungulates’ version of a genius is concerned they rank right up there with a two slice toaster.

Notch here is a prime example of moose intellect. His name was given to him by Mrs. Mom after a pack of coyotes tried to drag the young, not yet named Notch, into the bushes to have lunch with them. Notch was reluctant so they tried to convince him by leading him off by his right ear. By the time Mom got into it and reduced the pack by two and bent up the other three, Notch had the shredded ear that would be a constant reminder never to trust a bush again.

Now even though he stands nearly 7′ tall at the shoulder and weighs about the same as a Mazda Miata he still can not let a bush get by without giving it a thorough going over. Moose are slow to give up a tested theory, which in Notch’s case means “all bushes bad until proven otherwise” which is his first and guiding precept.

Why didn’t he learn through the years that bushes in general are harmless enough if unprovoked and go about his life? The only answer we can come up with and we must state at this point this is an untested theory, is the fact that those enormous, but giant antlers grow at an alarming rate and they possibly grow inward as well as outward. We know this seems unlikely but to date we have not seen hard evidence to contradict this possibility. This of course would cause a deflection of the brain pan and a pressing on the frontal lobe of his brain, compressing it and reducing it if not mashing it flat, which would interfere with some cognizant behavior. Which would cause the average observer to conclude that Notch was as dumb as a box of rocks.

Recently on a moose observation workshop and image making field trip we found Notch and to our surprise found him at hard at work staring at this bush. We came and went from this bush laden area several times during the day and found Notch still steadily at work assessing this bush. We saw that he had his work cut out for him as the entire meadow of many, many acres was entirely covered by bushes and this was the first one he had approached.

We are bringing you this news in case you are a frustrated moose watcher or photographer. One who, try as you might just can’t find a moose, developly challenged or not, to observe. Head on up to Long Draw on the way to Cameron pass and you should be able to spot Notch still at his task. I wouldn’t break any speed limits getting here. There’s lots of bushes left.

It’s The Little Things

It’s the little things in life that make each day special. Things like going to see friends. Or finding a quarter on the ground so you can pay for your Starbucks with the rest of the change in your pocket without breaking a twenty. Discovering a new good thing about somebody you really care for. Hearing that voice on the phone when you’re about to go into a major meltdown. How do they know you needed that. And just at that time too.

Everybody waits for that big huge something that’s going to make your life so much better. Winning the lotto. Finally getting that new car that makes you feel like you’ve made it. Whatever success that will make your life turn around and be magnificent. Those things might do for awhile, but they don’t last, they don’t have legs. They can’t be sustained.

You need the little things, those constants that make you smile or give you that warm and fuzzy just when you need it. That’s what makes life worthwhile. Small little joyful moments that keep you smiling long after they’re over. And sometimes it’s just finding that mouse in the grass when you least expected it.