Walkin' With the Wild Woman

Come go for walk with the Wild Woman and see what you will find .....

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Rare Sightings - Don't Ask; Don't Tell

Yet once again the miracles of modern technology have created a thorny issue for us. Yesterday I posted about how there seems to be some animosity at times between birders and photographers. I think modern technology's ability to rapidly disseminate information  plays a part in this.

It's very common now when a rare bird, plant, animal etc is sighted or found  that the news whips across the planet like a wildfire fuel by a strong wind.

Reminds me a bit of a currently popular commercial - "that's so 17 seconds ago" .

Go ahead - just try to get a shroomer to give a secret spot

However great the information networks can be, and yes I've used them to gain some great photo opportunities - I have to wonder if this actually a good system.

Many times I've been given access to private property to photograph a rare plant. bird, animal etc but only with the caveat "Please don't reveal the location" . Too often once the word gets out the property is inundated with people hoping for a view or a photo - to the point that some property owners have  resorted to hanging up crime scene / caution tape to keep people out. Not to mention the added burden of too much traffic on rural roads often ill equipped to handle the hordes of  people that pour in hoping for glimpse. .

Which leads me to the question - are we doing a service or disservice by disseminating this information? While on the one hand I'm all for people having an opportunity to see something rare in nature, the problem is that once the information is out, there's no way to control who's hand it falls into.

And trust me it can fall into hands who don't fully understand the  ethical  pieces of rare and endangered species.

Case in point; a USFWS manager alerted me to some very rare orchids he had found growing in one of the National Forests where he works - please, he pleaded with me - do not disclose the location. Publicize this very carefully and thoughtfully. He had  seen the damage done when some thing like this gets out to the masses. While posted at different location a similar situation  arose, the media pounced on this rarity, and within a week  the area had been decimated by well meaning and curious  folks. Too many foot prints, too many footprints from people who didn't understand how delicate an eco system can be. 

Normally I don't post a rare find with much more than a county as an identifying location. I tend to guard the rare sightings, in an effort to guard the delicate  balance that brought the rarity to an area to begin with.  I will share with a trusted circle of friends and colleagues; those people who I've come to know well enough to know that they will uphold all rules, regulations, and work  in a capacity to protect and preserve the rare sighting.  Does this make me greedy and  mean spirited or conservationist? Frankly I'm not sure.

I'm curious to hear YOUR views on this. How do you feel about the sharing of locations - right down to GPS coordinates of a rare or unusual sighting? Is it a good thing- enabling more people to have a chance to view said rarity, or is it detrimental? I welcome your opinion!

Monday, January 30, 2012

Birders Vs. Photographers; WHY?

The recent irruption of snowy owls in Illinois and other areas throughout the country has brought birders and bird photographers alike out in droves to see the majestic, beautiful snowy white creatures.

Certainly not a great photo ~ reasons follow below

What the irruption has also brought to the surface is the familiar and what seems to be age old feud between photographers and birders.

What I can't understand is WHY? Why two groups who obviously love birds, obviously love seeing and photographing birds, have to work at such cross purposes? Photography forums, nature forums, and birding forums abound with hateful, snide and snarky attacks , all of which I feel serve no purpose.

I was the object of one of those attacks by some over zealous birders over the weekend.

Let's get it straight right now; 

I follow the nature photographers code of ethics. I don't push, harass, bait, or any other manner of activity that could be detrimental to the subject or the ecosystem. I'm fairly quick to point out to other photographers  where they may be making a less than positive impact.

However; the fact that I was wearing full camo and carrying a long focal length lens this weekend  seemed to be enough to make me a target to  the birding community. Maybe it was the fact that I had taken the time to contact the landowner, request permission to access the property where the owl was found, and to also ask where the land owner preferred I parked. In essence giving me a closer look at the bird in the wild was what had the birders  a little pissy. I'm not totally sure, but soon there was yelling and gesturing and less pleasant comments being tossed across he field at me.

While my assumption is that the birders were well intentioned, and perhaps thought I had no clue about how to approach this easily stressed bird, the shouting and arm waving were having exactly that effect. The bird was frightened, expended a large amount of energy and flushed over the hillside.

again an obviously poor photo as I hold myself to the rule of not approaching too close to stressed animals

Once reaching the waterway on the other side of the hillside I sat quietly, watched the bird, noted that several red tail hawks and crows were beginning to mob it as well, and decided that my part in this birds stressful Saturday was over. I would come another day. I will not be a part of stressing a bird or any other type wildlife for that one good "killer shot" especially when it might well be a killing shot.

Upon returning to the property owners home to extend my thanks I enjoyed a friendly conversation with the landowner and another birder.
The other birder was a fountain of information, much of which I found useful and interesting, and friendship of sorts was fostered.

In general over the years that has been my experience with birders and photographers- although I will admit I have encountered a few overzealous birders who felt that photographers should either be banned, tripod mounted cameras should be banned (but not tripod mounted scopes?) and in an in general hateful attitude towards anyone carrying a DSLR and heaven forbid a lens of 400mm or over.

Yes, there are thoughtless photographers out there mingling with the birders, but there are also thoughtless birders deliberately ruining  photographers shots, equipment, and issuing what almost seem like wanted posters for photographers through the extensive  birding list serves and forums.  Vitriolic postings that including a photographers license plate number, vehicle description, a physical description etc. This latest trend truly disturbs me as I find it harassing ,a certain invasion of privacy ,and perhaps a bit libelous. I say perhaps libelous because sadly there are photographers out there who do practice such bad habits.

But through none of this have I been able to answer the question why the animosity between birders and photographers? We all enjoy the birds, nature, wildlife, we can learn from each other, we should be working together, not standing on opposite sides of the fence cursing each other.  What say you dear readers Why does this occur and what can we do to stop it?

Stay tuned for my next and related post - Sightings of Rarities in Nature; Don't Ask- Don't Tell; where I discuss the difficulties encountered when a rarity in nature is shared throughout the masses.

Happy Birding this week  and Happy Snapping!

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Ice Fishing in a Bikini?

I've had my fill the last several days of women promoting themselves as outdoor women and also promoting causes for women with a variety products and photos showing women hunters and anglers in various states of undress.

Stop it ladies! You are not furthering the cause of women in the outdoors, you are furthering the misconception that for a woman hunter/angler/ trapper  ( insert your own outdoor pursuit here) to succeed you must cater to the men by displaying all your worldly goods; and I don't mean your new Benelli .

It started with a facebook  post trying to find new page fans.. if a page promoting FISHING FOR BREAST CANCER received x many likes the  profile photo would change to a large busted lady spilling out of her her pink Maidenform. As an angler who lost both breasts; and then had to endure what seemed like a second mastectomy when my reconstruction went awry - the absolute last thing I want to see promoting breast cancer awareness among women anglers is a set of 44 DD's popping out of pink lace bra. Show me a tastefully dressed survivor casting her line please. Show me that these women anglers understand how devastating breast cancer can be to a woman's self image and her ability to continue to pursue outdoor adventures. Show me something real and heart felt, not a pink lace bra damn it!

I have to question how many male anglers "liked" the page just so they could ogle the profile picture without getting the message?

Next comes an ad for a calendar  with page after page of bikini  swathed hunters and anglers - from an organization that states it promotes women in the outdoors, no less. This calendar was promoting women in the outdoors - but not in the way myself or virtually any of my fellow outdoorswomen friends wish to be promoted.

I have message for this organization; You are not promoting women in the outdoors, you are promoting the ancient and archaiac sexist attitude that a woman afield is only good for the occasional purient leer and snicker.

The images were laughable to say the least. Yep, I'm going to sit in a bikini to spring turkey hunt..ticks, chiggers, and poison ivy abound..better yet, you betcha I'm lying in a frozen field waiting on that coyote in my g string.

Give me a break! Have we a women in the outdoors still not moved past this use of our bodies to sell ourselves as outdoor enthusiasts? I know..I know.. sex sells.

But, if we as women outdoor enthusiasts  are promoting women  in the outdoors, it behooves us to set the proper example. A woman is just as attractive fully clothed, with her equipment and trophy proudly displayed. We strive to be recognized for our knowledge, abilities and skills; not our breasts.

So I issue a challenge to my fellow outdoor enthusiasts - speak up when you see this blatant use of the female form to sell a product, a service, or as a fund raiser. Ask about the model's skills, her trophies, her life experiences and what she truly does to further the cause of women in the outdoors.

And ladies, if you happen to be one of those bikini clad models - get yourself some self esteem,  properly fitting clothing, dress  for the occasion and promote your  skills not  your sex.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Strange Weather - Mushrooms in January!

Strange weather this winter- I even hate to use the term winter; our days have been unseasonably warm, our waters are still open, with just a little skim of ice in the early frosty mornings. Our ducks season was disastrous thanks to all the warm weather. The birds simply haven't "come down" from their northern haunts  yet. Yes, there have been some, but overall; it's been decidedly duckless season.

The same weather patterns that wrecked the duck season however have made for a very long lasting mushroom season. The chilly wet days have been perfect for the oyster mushroom flushes.

Too nice of day to let go to waste, my pal Adam and I set out for hike and to check a few known mushroom spots. We'd hardly  topped the levee near the Kaskaskia river when Adam announced - "I can smell 'em"
Willie was off like a shot down the levee and in a blink of an eye he and Piper were dancing around the first log full of beautiful hearty winter oysters.

Willie and Piper anxiously awaiting Adam to show him the shrooms 

Just one small batch we collected

All together we cut almost 10 pounds of fresh winter oysters, while the dogs romped through the open water and fields- burning off energy that they didn't expend retrieve ducks earlier in the morning.

See Adam - We told you there were mushrooms down here! 

Willie and Piper..pals for life..
Teamwork! Fetch up that stick!
After we returned home- the mushrooms were cleaned and  the first cutting were used in a devine hot mushroom potato salad - especially good when paired with smoked sausages and  fresh baby spinach.
Here's the recipe for the Hot Mushroom Mustard Potato Salad


  • 1 pound oyster  mushrooms,cleaned and sliced into strips
  • one small red onion sliced into thin strips
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • Commercial garlic and herb type steak seasoning
  • 1 pound small or new red  potatoes, quartered
  • Honey Mustard Dressing 


  1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees, with racks in upper and lower thirds. On a rimmed baking sheet, toss mushrooms and onions with 1 tablespoon oil; season with steak seasoning . On another rimmed baking sheet, toss potatoes with 1 tablespoon oil; season with steak seasoning. Roast until mushrooms are browned and potatoes are cooked through, about 20 minutes, tossing once and rotating sheets halfway through. Transfer to a bowl and toss with honey mustard dressing

Friday, January 6, 2012

Miracles of Technology

This morning I am finding the miracles of technology not so miraculous - The RSS feed here is spitting out some kind of garbled nonsense  and I cannot for the life of me figure out how to get it fixed. I will press on and will get it fixed but just had to step away before I was moved to violence. My apologies to all, for my obvious lack of technical savvy.

Speaking of miracles of technology, I have finally been drug kicking and screaming into the world of modern communication via not only a smartphone  but  ~gasp~ a tablet! No, no pricey Ipad for me, I chose an Acer Iconia Android version. I do well with Android and I needed a tablet that would run flash, had a USB port for transferring photos from my camera etc. The Ipad  just didn't have the features that I needed for my plan to be a better, more timely  outdoor communicator - that's code for post photos and blogs from the road , public land picnic areas, duck blinds, bowfishing boats, trade shows and convenience store parking lots . 

So I have these nifty gadgets - now what? 

First things first, I started hunting for useful  FREE outdoor apps -  go ahead do a search; your jaw will drop and possibilities seem  endless. However not every app is worth  downloading or taking up space on your smartphone or tablet. Trust me, I think there's been at least 100 come and go from my "devices" . There are some great pay for apps out there for your time in the outdoors, and I will share those in a future post, but today it's just about free ones.

Here is list of the five I find most helpful and use on a nearly daily basis.

Google Sky Map
With Google Sky Map I am able to identify stars and planets by pointing my  device towards them in the night sky. Sky Map automatically adjusts to identify on the device's screen the objects it is facing. z I can easily and happily zoom in and out, and switch various layers such as constellations, planets, grids, and deep sky objects, on and off, choosing to make these elements visible or not. Because I grew up in the pre digital age my mother taught me how to navigate by the night sky, I find this extremely useful for helping to orient myself during the dark wee hours of the morning , taking advantage of the ability to  determine the locations of planets and stars relative to my location. If I simply put the name of a planet or star in  the search box, I am quickly directed by Google Sky Map towards the object. This is a big help when teaching youngsters about the constellations and where to find them. Just for fun I can  explore the cosmos manually and move through the sky by touching the screen instead of having it adjust automatically. 

US Army Survival Guide 
Yep, the whole shebang, right there on my phone or tablet. Easy to read typeface, good black and white illustrations, and of course all of that good basic survival  information and how to. How could any serious outdoor person not have this on their device. It is able be installed on a sd card(2.2+), is usable offline, and is based on the  U.S. Army Survival Manual FM 3-05.70. Great to have on your e reader device as  well!

Google My Tracks
 So easy to use! Just step outside, wait for the GPS satellite fix, then select "record track" from the straightforward and easy to use menu system. From that point, My Tracks records your precise route using GPS, including time, distance, and elevation data. Regardless of your activity; hiking, running, cycling,  the data is logged. If you choose to use this as part of fitness program, you can note a workout type workout type when you save the log.
When done , simply stop recording, and it' easy to review your route map, elevation, profile, and  stats. Switch between views just by tapping on-screen icons. You may also upload your workout to Google Maps directly from the phone with the press of one menu button - a great convenience compared to upload routines that require a USB link to a personal computer and/or special software.
The biggest plus for me -  I can cover my communication, emergency, and workout logging needs with one device, rather than two or three.

A very simple and unpretentious app for those of us who still  like to rely on our basic compass skills. It is simply a compass and navigation app. The app displays a large easy to see and use directional compass, the app also shows the current location using the GPS receiver. Works great for keeping  your bearings while you meander around the forest and fields, and can be used to make notes about specific points along the journey as well. The app also comes with a large variety of customization features (skins, location styles etc.) that you can use to make this app truly your own.
While magnetic compasses are often thrown off by non-polar magnetic fields, that problem has been addressed in this  with the ability to use  the true north option,  adjusting the noise compensation, or by adjusting the sensor rate. One last advantage  -   Compass has solved a good many arguments in the field when my companions were reluctant to trust my "internal compass" .

Time to Hunt and Time to Fish Lite Versions
Both offer a quick look at the overall forecast, have a nice graphic showing hourly predictions  based on the solar lunar method of feeding and activity time. (I swear by doing things by the solar lunar tables, always seems to work out well for me) . The free, ad-supported versions show daily/hourly hunting forecast, sunrise/sunset & moon phase for any date. The sunrise and sunset times are great for keeping me out of trouble with legal shooting times as well. One note - The free version has some limited functionality compared to the full version. It does not have weather-based ratings, can not save locations, and does not have monthly views.But for a quick check of the optimal times for wildlife and fish movement, activity, and feeding, as well as moon phase, sun and moon rise and set times, it can't be beat.

Soon as my cheapskate self  adds a few of the paid apps, I'll share my favorites of those with you too!

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Prois - Prowess in 2012!

Prois Hunting and Field Apparel for women enters 2012 with prowess! For those who will be attending the ATA and or SHOT shows this year Prois has some special events planned that you don’t want to miss!

ATA Show:  
Prois can be found at booth 773 at the ATA show.
Prois and Bowtech will be hosting the Prois Heartbreaker shoot in the Bowtech Shooting Lanes EACH day at 2pm  Ladies this is your chance to try the new Bowtech Heartbreaker bow and find out about the superior hunting and field attire from Prois.  Each day after the shoot- there will be a drawing for a giveaway for a new Heartbreaker and a Prois Pullover.  
Prois and Bowtech are also doing an ATA Razzberry Heartbreaker giveaway raffle in the Prois booth during the show.  You may register to win the bow at the Prois booth, but the only way to can win is to also "like" both the Prois and Bowtech Facebook pages.  The winner of the bow will be announced on 1/31 on both Facebook pages. The winner will receive notification only via the Facebook pages.  If the winner does not claim their prize within 24 hours...a new winner will be drawn!  So, hop on over to the Prois Hunting and Field Apparel   and Bowtech Facebook Pages and like them now to get ahead of the game.
Prois Press Event-  For the media folks in the crowd  - Prois  will be unveiling its new Elevation and Inutition lines and discussing them briefly.  Prois will also be introducing hard core huntress Andrea Fisher as the new Prois Award recipient.  You don’t want to miss either of these new and exciting introductions. Be there and scoop your friends!   January 10th at 5:00 pm in the Prois booth.

SHOT Show: 
You will find Prois at SHOT Show in booth 10223  where there will be an additional opportunity meet hard core huntress, and the newest Prois Award recipient  Andrea Fisher, and learn about the new Elevation and Inuition lines during the Prois Press conference on January 17th , 4;30 pm at the Prois booth. 

But wait –did you think Prois was stopping there at SHOT show? Of course not! 

Prois will be hosting a Meet and Greet  with famed author  and photographer, Lindsay McCrum at the 2012 SHOT Show in Las Vegas, NV.  The Meet & Greet event will be held on Wednesday, January 18th at 2:00 pm in the Prois Hunting Apparel Booth (#10223).  

“We are thrilled to have such a talented and dynamic person such as Lindsay to appear with Prois at this year’s SHOT Show”, explains Kirstie Pike, CEO of Prois.  “Her energy is unmatched and her recent book, Chicks With Guns, has made such a huge impact on the women’s shooting and hunting world.”  Lindsay is a well-known photographer based out of San Francisco.  

Prois welcomes all who wish to meet Lindsay McCrum!  

In Chicks with Guns, Lindsay McCrum has created a cultural portrait of women gun owners in America through photographs that are both beautiful and in a sense unexpected. The book examines issues of self-image and gender through the visual conventions of portraiture and fashion, but the guns are presented here not as superimposed props but as the very personal lifestyle accessories of the subjects portrayed. And it defies stereotypes often associated with aspects of the popular culture of both guns and women. Like the 15-20 million women gun owners in this country, the women we meet in Chicks with Guns ( their portraits are accompanied by their own words), reside in all regions of the country, come from all levels of society, and participate seriously in diverse shooting activities. The women here are sportswomen, hunters, and competition shooters. Some use guns on their jobs and some for self-defense. They may not all be classically beautiful, but in these photographs they all look beautiful, exuding honesty, confidence, poise, power and pride. They are real women with real guns that play a part in their lives. By focusing her camera respectfully on this particular aspect of the American scene, gun-wielding women and girls, Lindsay McCrum sheds new light on who we are in America today. ~ courtesy Chicks With Guns  via Prois Hunting and Field Apparel

 So, Plan accordingly and make sure to allow plenty of time in your ATA and SHOT show visit to stop by and see all of the exciting things happening at Prois in  2012!