Monday, December 29, 2008

Turkey Shoot

Tis The Season

Having spent way to much time cooped up in the house lately, I decided that I had to get in to my truck and give it free rein to roam where it may. That proved to be the out towards Chain Lakes and the Porcupine Hills beyond. As I drove south on highway 2 the skies were overcast for the most part, although with broken cloud to the east, the dawn was developing nicely with the light being reflected up under the clouds. A Chinook arch to the west framed the Rockies with the morning light wonderful as it washed over them. Before long, I was making the turn west at Nanton, where the 543 connects and meanders in the direction of Chain Lakes. Chain Lakes is located in the Willow Creek valley between the Porcupine Hills and the Rockies. This park provides year-round camping and fishing opportunities. Just a few kilometers west of Nanton, I turned off of the 543 onto a gravel road that accesses a number of ranches to the west. In the past I have seen a fair amount of wildlife down this backroad, and today proved to be no different with deer foraging in rolling pasture-land bordering the road and at one point as I topped a small knoll, a immature Bald Eagle was feeding on a deer carcass, while being harassed by a hoard of Magpie's. The drive was very enjoyable, with the gate-ways that lead into the very picturesque ranches located along this backroad, all decorated up for the season. Before long I turned south on to highway 22 and headed south to Chain Lakes. There was a lot of action happening on the ice, with ice-fishermen spread across the south end of the lakes. The wind had picked up and was blowing from the west, with the result being near white-out conditions at times. While brewing a cup of tea, the squelch on my radio opened and Rick VE6RAK was giving me a call, knowing that I was in the vicinity of the lakes. Rick asked if I was interested in shooting photos of wild turkeys. He gave me directions to a ranch located in the Porcupine Hills to the south of Chain Lakes, owned by a friend of his. Arriving there, Rick was waiting for me at the gate to the ranch. The Merriam's or wild turkey is a native North American bird, but Alberta is well beyond its natural range. Successful introduction of this species was made in 1966 and again in 1973 in the Porcupine Hills. Over the years I have had some success in sightings of wild turkeys, however never in the numbers that I was about to see on this day. The turkeys show up daily during feeding time and on this day numbered near 30 or more. I shot more wild turkey photos in a short period of time than I did over the last 10 years. With the turkey shoot a done deal, I said goodbye to Rick, who headed south to the Pass as I headed north up the highway to Chimney Rock Road, where west up the road a-ways near Chaffen Creek, I shot photos of Limber Pines in a winter setting on a ridge overlooking the Livingstone Range. The wind was stronger than ever as it blasted out of the Rockies just to the west, with gusts threatening to send my truck into the ditch as I worked my way north to Chain Lakes. Upon reaching Chain Lakes, I picked up the 543 and headed east to Nanton, where I would have lunch before heading for home. All in All, a most enjoyable day.

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