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.

Merry Christmas

All of us here at BigShotsNow the blog, The Director, all of the interns even the ones to whom Christmas is just a time to work harder, The Institute itself under its unofficial recognition as the greatest Institute in the world, our faithful animal employees such as Pepper Blue our resident snow taster shown here hard at work checking the taste of the snow for granular consistency, all of us, even Dwight Lutsey the author and the one responsible for the blog want to take this time to say a heartfelt Merry Christmas to all of you. May this time be filled with family, friends and loved ones, not necessarily in that order and that each of you got that pony with the red saddle that you’ve been waiting on all these years. If not keep the faith there’s always next year. May you be blessed with the goodwill of the season and that it lasts all through the coming year. Merry Christmas and come back and visit often.

The Daily Reporter

2015-10-03The Surveyor2967

Well another day and I’m wondering what’s on tap today. Yesterday was something with Phil and Carl getting in that big fight over that trollop Edna Marie. I hope Carl’s eye is ok. You would think those Elk would have more brains but I guess growing those big antlers doesn’t leave much blood flow into their little bitty brain sockets. I can’t see what those guys see in her. She has a calf every single year, sometimes twins. Everybody talks about it.

Then Vince came lumbering through. What a blivet. He is so fat that even for a Black bear he’s one jumbo burrito. He looks like a 55 gallon drum with ears. And dumb! he’s so dumb he thinks an innuendo is an Italian suppository.

And then that fox Clarita, and I don’t mean fox as in red fox those sneaky bastards, I mean that total hottie Chipmunk from down the meadow came by both cheeks stuffed with seeds. I mean Whoa….

The sad thing that happened in the afternoon was that nice old Mr. Lapinsky, the Ground Squirrel that lived in that stump next to where the bees were for a while until Vince dug them out that one time, who would do anything for anybody, got snatched by that Golden eagle. You could hear him screaming as the eagle took him up and out of sight. Mr. Lapinsky never liked heights.

There was one more incident that I can barely talk about even now, a whole day after it happened. I was up here on my rock, minding my own business not paying attention to anyone or anything when I heard a rustle just out there in the tall grass. God! It was Russell, that miserable misbegotten, hairy, flea-ridden, worthless piece of canine trash, even for a coyote, getting ready to jump up here and get me. He got my cousin Ed last summer, ate him right in front of his whole family and then tried for one of the kids too. What a… If I hadn’t heard him I would have been gone too. I’m afraid I embarrassed myself as I made one huge leap for the tree behind me, never, never go in a hole when a coyote goes for you, get up a tree. Those things can dig like crazy and I mean where you gonna go. No, always go up a tree. I’m still shaking. I can barely eat the rest of this seed.

Yesterday was a big day, but really, no bigger than most days . I see a lot of crazy stuff from up here I can tell you. Who’s that coming this way? Well I’ll be, I haven’t seen her in a while… What is that she is… Nooo, you won’t believe this.

Now Are The Foxes

Red Fox TryptychClick to enlarge

We are continuing with our semi-annual inspection report that The Institute conducts in Yellowstone National park whether anyone wants it or not. As has been described before this is a very comprehensive inspection of all aspects of the parks operation. We leave no stone unturned, no question unanswered, no oddity unexplained, no lunch counter stool unoccupied.

One of the major checkpoints on our report is whether the performing animals are, well, performing. This is a major area of concern for park management as many of the tourist dollars spent here are dependent on how good a show the park provides. The travelling public, especially those from out-of-town, are demanding to see the various tricks, capering’s, sleight of paw trickery, mimicking, scampering cutely, impressions, demonstrations of unique abilities, ability to sing, dance, and perform acrobatic stunts that television has conditioned them to believe is realistic animal behavior.

Consequently nearly all of the parks inhabitants have their own repertoire of acts carefully selected for their particular personalities and physical attributes. Grizzly bears lumber along in a wallowing gait that makes them an amusing sight when viewed from the rear, even if there is a freshly killed elk calf dangling from its jaws you can’t help but laugh at its distinctive big butt roll, Eagles, both Bald and Golden soar and dive providing an incredible airshow for the gaping wide-eyed tourist. You can’t miss the sound of cell phone cameras clicking away to capture them in all their splendid glory seven or eight hundred feet in the air. The many hooved ungulates such as the buffalo, antelope, elk, mule deer, Bighorn sheep and Black-horned rhinoceros, put on a grazing display second to none, ok, that list was just a test to see if you were really paying attention, there are actually no buffalo in the park.

Using the beautiful four-color brochure that the park hands out to each and every paying entrant into the park that shows the time, location and activity to be performed by the various animal performers we headed to the Hayden valley our first stop, to view the amazing acrobatic maneuvers of Americas favorite small hairy predator, the Red Fox. We got there a few minutes early so we could set up our gear and get good seats as the spaces fill up rapidly once the show gets under way.

Soon, just as advertised, the Red Fox appeared and began to tease the crowd by scampering over logs, peering out from behind bushes and other shrubbery, posing and posturing out in the open for the many folks wanting photo ops, and generally setting the stage for its climatic last act, the Incredible Leaping Headstand with Bushy Tail Salute. It was an amazing performance. As soon as it was over and our performer retreated into the forest behind it, the crowd immediately dispersed, stopping only to take selfies of themselves and their companions with their cell phones and consulting the brochure for the next performance. Some were even seen photographing their brochures, the  ground they were standing on, the road, their car door handles, each other again, the now empty area where the performance took place. Every thing of interest in Yellowstone that might amaze their friends and neighbors back home must be digitally documented before the next amazing sight comes into view.

We were satisfied with the Red Fox’s performance and gave it four and a half stars out of five and went on to the next performance, a yellow-bellied marmot spitting the shells of seeds over the edge of a rock. We were in for a long day, Yellowstone has a lot of things to see and we hadn’t even gotten to the Buffalo shedding exhibit yet.

Note : To those of you tuning in late the following posts will catch you up on preceding events. There is no extra charge for this service we just want  you to be fully informed.


Wild Ones Among Us

WildOnesAmongUs6132Red Fox and kit Ft Collins Colorado       click to enlarge


Relying on the kindness of strangers. That’s what this fox family does every day. This young mother and her family live in the middle of a densely populated suburban area filled with kids, dogs, passerby’s, cars, sidewalks, bicycles, everything thing that modern living brings to bear on our day-to-day lives.

Her den is less than five feet from a busy sidewalk that sees a constant parade of people walking by, mom’s pushing strollers, dog walkers, kids running by on their way to the park just across the street. It is also next to a small but vibrant wetland. It is here that she gets much of her food. That and the constant supply of dog food well-meaning folks leave at the den entrance.

She has three young ones at home and they spend as much time as they can now out in front of the den, the young playing and mom on constant guard for any danger. They don’t get much sun time though because as soon as mom spots someone coming down the sidewalk it’s back into the den until she sounds the all clear. When mom barks a short command the kids respond immediately and disappear into the den with lightning speed.

The kindness that mom depends on isn’t the food well-wishers leave at the front door, she really doesn’t need it, she can find more than enough food on her own, it’s the fact that she has been basically unmolested and able to rear three youngsters to young adulthood without much interference from the humans that live around her. The observers that keep an eye on her have kept the intrusions into the fox families life to a minimum and thankfully fate has spared the young ones from the constant traffic going by just feet from their playground.

Make no mistake, these are not pets, they are wild things, they just happened for one inexplicable reason or another, chosen to live among us. So far it has been a successful arrangement.


Cold Tubbin’

ColdTubbin8503Red Fox at The Institutes Cold Tub                                  click to enlarge


There  are many strange customs in the animal world, almost too many to catalog. For instance up in Yellowstone the animals all gather around the thermal areas for warmth and fellowship, spending many long hours in the soothing hot water enjoying the company of their friends and neighbors. They talk over the days events, speculate on who the new rangers might be, trade recipes and generally hang out like a bunch of suburbanites.

Down here in Northern Colorado our animals do things a little differently. Our animals don’t tend to be as sociable with each other as they are up further north, consequently their behavior is quite different. Way up here on the mountaintop where the headquarters of the Institute are located we get our share of cold weather. Our animals handle it more like their cousins in the great white north handle things. That is they embrace the cold, revel in it, and look for any reason to celebrate it. You can often see them out on our frozen lakes ice fishing, skinny dipping with the black bear club, having packy fights ( what you know as snowballs) and spending time in the cold tubs that are set up around the Institutes property.

It was noted earlier that our animals don’t tend to be as sociable as they are in  other parts of the country but as in all general statements there are exceptions and this fellow is one. He delights in the companionship of other animals and is often seen inviting others to join him in the cold tub. It has been noted that he tends to befriend his neighbors the cottontails the most as well as the occasional mouse and appears to have a large acquaintance among them. However it’s strange that his companions always seem to be new with little revisiting if you will, strange that, but it may be that he just needs more stimulating conversations as the rabbits all tend to talk about how little grass is left over after the summer heat, who’s expecting again and there’s always somebody expecting, how many redtails have been hanging around and similar topics. If our neighbor the fox was bored you’d think he’d invite another fox to his cold tub. Well, its behavior that we’ll have to look into later. Right now we have to make sure the tubs are cold enough and ready for use. There’s still plenty of winter left.

The Bread Thief

BreadThief8945click to enlarge

It’s been a long hard day. Foraging for food is not for the faint-hearted, not when it’s in the low 20’s and the wind is a steady 30 mph out of the west. Not when the neighbor’s dogs are out and you spend half the day running circles around them. It’s fun for them but then they get to home to a nice big bowl of dog chow and sleep in a warm house and you still have to find dinner.

You’ve been to all the usual places and it’s a barren wasteland out there. No one’s left anything out, there is no food to be seen. Even the mice are tucked into their little mice places and aren’t going to come out again til morning.

Then you remember that place up on the hill, they’ve left stuff out before. They were soft touches and the birds made out like bandits. It’s worth a shot to check it out. Oh man, they had left some bread out for the Stellar’s and they hadn’t found it yet. It’s like a total ‘Eureka’ moment. The motherlode. It’s gone and they’ll think the birds got it. And as luck would have it the last rays of the sun are a bonus that you hadn’t counted on. A reward for perseverance. Life doesn’t get any better than this.