I’ve seen some pretty dramatic things this year out on my boat- no water, sweltering heat, and death stand out. Be assured we also saw incredible beauty and life in abundance, but it was a hard year on the wildlife.
Last year we rarely saw big bucks, this year we saw many. Mostly near the water, sometimes swimming, others staring as we drifted by. Spectacular racks in velvet, stunning specimens of Michigan’s finest.
It almost seemed too good to be true. My ecotour guests were impressed; many had never seen deer swimming before. I told them we usually only saw it happen one in ten trips. But indeed, it was a sign of something wrong.
The first indicator of an environment askew was the pike die off in some of the rivers. It was so hot this summer; some of the water couldn’t hold enough oxygen for them. On one tour we drove past a hundred floating belly up on the Cass River. The mild winter, draught, and increased temperatures created the ideal conditions for a little bug to thrive in the now exposed mud of the Shiawassee Flats- once bitten the deer barely made it a week before succumbing to EHD or blue tongue. This condition stretched across the northern U.S.
I knew something was wrong weeks before there was visual confirmation. I could smell it in the air, and it wasn’t dead fish. Soon the bodies started appearing along the banks of the rivers. Full of fever and dehydrated, they tried to cool themselves and quench an insatiable thirst. They lost their fear of man, and looked (when they should have run) as we drifted by, almost begging for help. I have often remarked at the intelligence of the wildlife and pets that surround us. I’ve seen it many times over, the compassion and team work that they exhibit.
We all have our daily struggles. Beat down by sickness, brutality, road rage, or not nice people. We live in an incredible country of opportunity, yet some choose to try and segregate it. We’ve got it easy- watch a herd of deer, flock of geese, or even a family of beaver if you are lucky enough. Appreciate each day's new adventure, because something stupid (no fault of our own) could happen and change things forever. The best time to go Johnny Panthering? WHEN YER BREATHING! On this breezy, cloudy, gray, gloomy day, let’s milk it for all it’s worth and celebrate how lucky we are to still be sucking air!