Killdeer eggs. It’s kind of artsy don’t you think? I couldn’t improve on this.
We awoke this morning to what we thought was another day of cloud cover. When we went out to air the dogs it was still dark and we could see an orange glow to the Southwest. We climbed into the truck to investigate only to discover it was far to the Southwest. When the morning light brightened the sky we could see the orange hue of smoke filtered light and ash was on everything. A fire blew up overnight in Tehama County and the smoke covered Shasta County by morning. It seems folks all over California woke up to the same and worse conditions. CalFire named this one the 3-4 Fire. Last count had it at 1,000 acres. It’s not the biggest fire. There’s one far worse threatening Vacaville. Say a prayer for the folks down there.
Every year Mary and I compete in a head to head competition to raise money for Sierra-Cascade Environmental and Resource Fund for the Sierra-Cascade Logging Conference. We each create and donate an original painting for the auction, and may the best painting win. They are auctioned at the Lumberjack Banquet and Education Auction. More on this below. Each year the loser has to write the auction report. We affectionately call it the “Loser Report”. Spoiler alert! Last year I was the loser so I’m writing the report. I’m almost a year late and we are preparing for the the 2020 Auction, which is happening this Friday! So without further adieu here is the 2019 Losers Report.
Last year I prepared a painting honoring a beloved logger in our community that had just passed away. His name was Jim Headrick. He was highly respected and well loved by those that knew him. A sentimental favorite. I titled it “Bull of the Woods.”
Mary was involved in preparing a clandestine painting of another respected logger in our community, Larry Strawn. She had been recruited by a friend and business partner to Larry named Delbert Gannon. Delbert secretly snuck Mary into Larry’s office to pilfer his prized photos for reference. Larry nearly caught her making her escape from their equipment shop, but she cleverly eluded him. When she created her piece she sneakily hid the identities of the people in the painting while it was on public display in the days before the auction. She titled it, “Blue Ridge Heritage.”
The way this auction works is that both paintings are auctioned at the same time. The winning bidder gets to choose the one he/she wants and the other painting goes back on the block to be auctioned again, or the winning bidder can choose to take both paintings at the winning bid price. This had never happened before.
The night of the auction came and the paintings were revealed! Larry knew he’d been had. We knew Delbert was going to be bidding on the painting of Larry to gift to him. However, Delbert didn’t know before that night that Mary had included him in the painting too! She surprised them both. We didn’t know who would bid for “Bull of the Woods.” The bidding began and was running up quickly. As it got near got near $5,000 the bidding began to slow. Delbert had yet to bid. Mary and I looked towards Delbert and wondered if he was going to bid. Then at $5,400 the auctioneer yelled “sold.” Johnny Miller of John Wheeler Logging had won the auction. When asked which painting he wanted, he said “I’ll take them both!” Delbert looked thunderstruck. The painting he planned to purchase was lost! Meanwhile, Johnny presented “Bull of the Woods” to Liz, Jim Headricks widow. It was very touching. Immediately after the presentation Delbert entered intense negotiations with Johnny to convince him to donate “Blue Ridge Heritage” back to be auctioned again. Mary and I were vigorously debating as to who was the winner and who would have to write the loser report. Then Johnny graciously donated Mary’s painting back to the auction and it went back on the block. This time Delbert was the successful bidder at $5,000. He then presented the painting to his friend Larry. It was one wild auction.
As a result both paintings originally sold for $5,400 individually, but Mary’s painting resold for $5,000. My painting brought $5,400 and hers fetched $10,400. The total to the Sierra-Cascade Environmental and Resource Fund from the paintings was $15,800. I think that makes them the big winner!
Coming up very soon, the painting submissions for the 2020 Sierra-Cascade Environmental and Resource Fund. Here we go again.
We walked down a washed out road until we stood on a landing. Mary and I watched the light fade from the sky. Perched in a black oak tree, another hunter joined us. It was a solitary great horned owl beginning it’s evening hunt.
This is a true story of an encounter I had with a bear one day. Written and illustrated by Tim Livingston.
The deep impressions in the skid trail were unmistakably that of a large black bear. He had walked this trail so many times that his footsteps had created permanent depressions in the earth. Bears often walk in their same footsteps on their favorite paths. It’s quieter that way. A quiet bear is a well fed bear. This trail hadn’t been used for skidding logs for forty or fifty years judging by the trees growing there. The Bear owned the trail now.
I came up the trail for the same reason as the bear. I too was hunting. I carried my bow with an arrow nocked at the ready. Trying to be as silent as I could, I stepped where the bear stepped. It was so dry in the August woods that everything cracked and snapped under my feet. I moved along the edge of a steep ravine. Pausing every few steps to listen to the sounds of the forest. Suddenly, crashing sounded through the brush, and then a loud whooshing huff came from across the ravine. There was another huff and then another. I’d been made. It was the alarm sound of three black-tail deer. Deer were what I came for, but my element of surprise was lost. I couldn’t see any of them through the dense forest of Douglas-fir, pine and oak. I hoped they might move into an opening so I could. I sat down on the edge of the trail to quietly wait for things to settle down.
The huffing gradually subsided. The group of deer moved off never once revealing themselves to me. I waited a few more minutes hoping for a straggler. Then another huff sounded far up the draw. It seemed odd that this new deer would have detected me at that distance. The huff was followed by more huffing along with crashing in the brush. The crashing didn’t seem like deer. Quickly and quietly, I got to my feet and looked up toward the sound. Soon, a black bear foraging down the ravine came into view. I could tell by its size it was a big boar.
I couldn’t legally hunt this bear because my bear tag had been filled a week before. I didn’t want him to know I was here. His reaction would alert other deer in the area to my presence. Searching around, there was no way out of the ravine that wouldn’t attract the bear’s attention. Climbing the steep slopes through the leaves and duff would have been very noisy. I waited hoping he might go off on another trail, but he didn’t. He kept coming. I was downwind so he couldn’t smell me. Finally, when our encounter was inevitable, I had to alert the bear to my presence. I picked up a baseball sized rock and hurled it yelling, “Get outta here bear!” My throw missed, and the bear froze in his tracks about fifteen yards away.
When most black bears encounter people they run away fast, but boars in August are different. They are the most dangerous. They’re famished and will attack people, especially in the back country. This one sized me up trying to decide if I was on his menu. He didn’t know what to make of me dressed in camouflage and full face paint. I kept yelling at the bear. Telling him to leave, threatening him and even cussing his mother failed to move him along. The bear tipped his head back and with lips curled out, tried to find my scent on the breeze. Fortunately, the wind was in my favor. The bear was uncertain. Seconds ticked by and then minutes, but the bear wouldn’t budge. I moved slowly to my right past some tree branches. Now I had a clear shot at him. I knew at this range I wouldn’t miss him, but he could easily reach me before I could nock the next arrow. At that moment my arrow just seemed like a pointy little stick. I didn’t dare turn my back.
I was down to one last desperate bluff to convince the bear to leave. I raised my bow up as high as I could without taking my finger off the trigger. Then with a guttural yell I lunged toward him. Mama bears often bluff charge people or other bears to make them back off. Any bear should instinctively understand. He didn’t move. I repeated the lunge. Again, the bear didn’t move. He didn’t even twitch. We were now only ten yards apart. What had seemed like an okay idea at the time was suddenly feeling like a really dumb idea. Drawing my bow for what was to come next, I was ready to fire if he took one step in my direction. The seconds slowly ticked by as we stared each other down. Abruptly, the bear turned and bolted up slope away from me. Then, just as quickly turned back around and sat down. We were now at the more comfortable distance of thirty yards apart and still staring each other down.
Taking a chance, I laid my bow on the ground with the arrow still knocked. Then, slipping the pack off my back, I pulled out my camera. My eyes never left the bear. I took pictures until he moved. The bear circled to my right behind the cover of some bushes, but kept his distance. I had pushed my luck, so I stowed the camera and put my pack back on.
The bear was now sitting on a small ridge above me and I had to pass right below him to go on my way. I faced him as I moved slowly past with my bow at the ready. Immediately ahead was another ravine. It was small but deep. I kept looking back to see if the bear had moved. He had not. As I was trying to sort out how to cross the ravine with a big black bear looking down on me, there was loud crashing. I wheeled around to find the bear was gone. He had run down the other side of the ridge.
Seizing the moment, I scrambled through the ravine and quickly moved along the trail. After a short distance I stopped to listen. I could hear the bear on the slope below. He had finally gotten downwind to scent me. I wondered if he would follow now that he knew what he was following. As I went on my way, I stopped to listen every so often. My hunting partner was waiting for me down the trail and she had a bear tag. If the bear followed it would be at his own peril. I would lead the bear to her.
Every little noise after that seemed like it could be the bear, but I never saw him again that day. In seasons to come I’ll return to those mountains and probably to that same ravine. The bear will likely still be around and I may see him again. Hopefully next time he’ll be the hunted.
I was out in the Carr Fire burn area today. It’s quite devastating to see the thousands of burned acres of forest. This fire destroyed over 1600 structures, but it also killed millions of trees. We are faced with an epic fire salvage operation that will take years to complete. That will be followed by an equally epic reforestation program
The Pacific fisher is a large member of the weasel family that makes its home on our California timberland.
The company I work for, Sierra Pacific Industries, has been involved in a fisher relocation project for a number of years. Our partners in the project include US Fish and Wildlife Service, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, and researchers from North Carolina State University. The purpose is to re-establish fisher into parts of the Sierra Nevada Mountains that used to be their historic range. The project has been highly successful. You can read more about the project here at the Fish and Wildlife Service website.
This is a mixed media illustration of a fisher with a radio collar that I did for the children’s book Timber!. The pen and ink version appeared in the young reader book Timber In The Working Forest. Both books were written by Mary A Livingston and illustrated by me. You can read her blog at Sneaking Bliss.com.