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Thursday, January 3, 2013

Four Tips to Keep in Mind When Taking Photographs of Wildlife

As some of you know, one of my passions is wildlife photography.  Today's post is from returning guest-writer Miscelleana R, and offers some great suggestions to wildlife photographers of all skill levels. Hope you enjoy.

Being outdoors is fun on its own. Oftentimes all you need is yourself and the outside world to be able to enjoy yourself for hours. Hiking, biking, running, walking, staring. It all brings a whole new way of looking at things and sometimes give a person a different look at life.

Then, there are times you want to take the outdoors with you on your travels or to take with you as a memory. This makes your camera your new best friend.

Wildlife is often one of those beautiful pieces of outside that you may want to capture, but taking a picture of the animals in nature and in their natural habitats may be a lot harder than you think. For this reason, I have given you four easy tips to take with you and your camera when you go to take some outside, wildlife shots.

The Four Tips

1.       Get as close as possible

        Being that it is in the nature of animals, roaming away from humans is something wildlife is very good at. They can hear and smell us and normally know where not to go. This makes it hard to follow this particular tip. But, although getting close may not be an option, we do have the next tip to help out.

2.       Use the right equipment

        One of the important points for this tip is what I talked about above, getting close to the animals. True, you can pull out your point-and-shoot camera with its normal digital zoom, but without a zoom lens or a panorama lens, you may not be able to get as close as you want to get the shot, detail or colors you want.

3.       Keep equipment on you, not in a bag

        You are walking through the woods, and you come around a corner to find a family of deer grazing. Time to take a picture, but your camera is in your bag. You can try to get the camera out quietly, but more than likely you are going to spook them and off they’ll go. So keep your equipment on you, in your pockets, hanging on your neck, wherever it needs to be to be handy and quick.

4.       Be patient, calm and quiet

This tip is one of the most important. You cannot expect to get to the forest or wherever you are traveling and expect to take a great shot within the first 15 minutes. You will have to search and wait. Rushing yourself is going to cause a problem too when you simply need to relax and get ready for a wait. Why? Because rushing is faster and louder than taking your time and being calm. So, heed this tip well.

Shooting photographs of wildlife may not be the easiest thing to do with so many factors involved, and these are only four tips to offer some help. Have fun with your shots and be creative. Add some background and environment, and you have some memories set and ready to keep.

About Author:

Miscelleana Rhinehart enjoys the outdoors as much as she enjoys writing reviews for books, movies and used Toyota New York models.

Friday, December 14, 2012

Winter Is Almost Here: 3 Ways That You Can Really Make The Most Of It

Winter is in many ways my favorite time of the year.  I love snow and hiking in fresh, crisp air.  Today's post is written by returning guest writer Joe Petchonka and is about three really good ways to get out and enjoy the winter wonderland.  I hope you enjoy.

Winter is one of my favorite seasons, with fall coming in at a close second. While most people probably aren’t big fans of the cold months because of the annoying snow and inability to stay warm when outside for a little while, it’s exactly those reasons why I love the winter!
There’s nothing more fun that a snowy day with a cup of hot chocolate, a nice book, and a fire going in the background.

But if you’re more of the outdoors type like I am, here are three great ways to have complete fun this winter:
Give Snow Tubing a Chance

While snowboarding and skiing are amazing winter activities that are undoubtedly exciting, snow tubing is never thought of the same way. Perhaps it’s because the snow tubing ranges at popular ski resorts aren’t very big, which make snowboarding and skiing on full mountain sides look like a better option.
I guarantee that if you did this yourself or found a mountain that offers larger downhill tubing ranges for families to enjoy, you’d have just as much fun!

Never Forget About Hiking
While you probably don’t want to be hiking in three feet of snow, you can hike in snow that is only a couple of inches or so.

Have you ever been hiking and thought that your view from atop a mountain or large hill was amazing? Yeah, when it’s snowing out and everything is white, it’s a spectacular sight! You really don’t want to miss out on that view.
You could take a hike to your favorite spot and see how different it is.

Sounds pretty expensive, and you’d be right if you were buying your own snowmobile. But you can find some to rent if you look for a few minutes online. You’ll find that if you get a bunch of these together with your friends and family, you’ll realize how amazing these machines are for ripping through snow and flying around the mountains.

That about does it: three sweet activities for the winter months. Enjoy!
About the author:

Joe Petchonka is a professional writer who enjoys providing readers with great outdoors tips, but he also helps NY KIA dealers with their online classifieds pages.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Python Challenge 2013

In its latest attempt to combat the issue of burmese pythons taking over the Everglades, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission has turned to a time-proven method of wildlife population control.  It is sponsoring a hunting contest.

Beginning in mid-January 2013, cash prizes will be awarded to the hunters who catch the most and largest Burmese pythons.  The longest documented Burmese python in the Everglades is currently 17 feet in length, but this will likely be old news by the end of the contest in mid-February 2013.

All contest entrants are required to pay a $25 entry fee and complete an online training course.  The 40 minute course, called REDDy, helps the hunters learn about the species that they shouldn't be targeting during the contest.  While the primary goal is to reduce the population of the invasive python species, the secondary goal is to educate about the negative impacts of non-native, invasive species on an ecosystem.

If you are interested, contest rules can be found at PythonChallenge.org.  More to come on this innovative population control technique.

Friday, November 23, 2012

Go Enjoy Fall While You Have The Chance!

Today's post is written by returning guest writer Joe Petchonka.  His post is about great ways to enjoy what is left of fall this year.  I hope you enjoy!

With Winter Right Around the Corner, You Must Enjoy the Fall While You Have the Chance!
You only have about a month or so before winter finally rears its ugly head. After that, there’s no more fall fun to be had.

With the leaves changing colors and the smell of river water filling the air (if you don’t live near a river, use your imagination), you need to take full advantage of the beauty.
There’s only a little time left, so here’s how you can enjoy the rest of the fall weather:

Go Hiking in Your Nearest Preserve
Fall Foliage
Chances are, you probably have a nature preserve nearby. You may even have several. I know I have at l have at least three 20 miles from me. What hiking allows you do to do is enjoy the quiet scenery around you and soak in all the smells that make fall special. The best part about this activity is that it’s also extremely cheap, and it may even be free depending on the area you’re hiking through.

Give it a shot. Remember to dress warmly and pack a nice lunch, because you never know how long you might be there!
Go Apple Picking

Much like how hiking allows you to enjoy the sights and sounds of fall, apple picking allows you to do all of the above, but you also get to eat your collection after you’re done! This is also another activity that you’ll find is quite cheap, unless you have a family of 100. But if you have less than that, you should be fine in the money department.

Apples don’t last long, so you better go fast!

Play in the Leaves!
Hey, you don’t need to be a kid to do this, and it’s a great way to connect with nature on a personal level. I’d recommend wearing junky clothes, though, because you may or may not get dirty, depending on how clean your raking job is.
Enjoying Fall!
There you have it: some ways to enjoy the rest of your fall. Get out there and enjoy it before it’s too late!
About the author: Joe Petchonka loves writing about nature and anything to do with fall, but he also tries to help Michigan GMC dealers with their online classifieds.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

A Magical Time In The Deer Woods

It's that time of year again.  Without exception, the deer hunters who are reading know exactly what I am talking about while everyone is scratching their heads wondering if I have lost my mind.  It's the most magical time in the Midwest deer woods; the breeding season commonly referred to as the "rut."

Around the Midwest, in early to mid-October whitetail bucks leave their bachelor groups to go it alone in search of does to breed.  While most of the year the bucks act like best friends, now they are competing for breeding dominance.  They create "scrapes" on the ground and rub their antlers against trees to leave "signposts" warning other bucks to steer clear of the area.  Encounters between bucks can lead to violent clashes as they fight for dominance.  Sometimes, bucks are injured or their antlers are broken from these duels.  This is often called the "seeking" phase of the rut.  Generally speaking, the more mature deer with large bodies and antlers win these wars and become the dominant breeding buck.  In my neck of the woods, this buck is one that I call Mr. Big.
Rutting buck with broken antler
The buck pictured in this photo appears to have his right antler broken off almost in its entirety due to a fight with a rival.  At the time of the photo, he was with a doe so I am not sure if he was the winner or loser of the duel.  If he won, I would hate to see what the loser buck looks like!

Around the end of October, the bucks begin to aggressively search for and chase the does in what is termed the "chasing" phase of the rut.  The does aren't yet ready to breed, but they are close so the bucks want to remain close by in anticipation.  This is the time of the year when bucks show up in broad daylight in the weirdest places.  Hunters often report seeing large bucks that they haven't seen all year long as the romantic studs cover lots of territory looking for receptive does.  The six point buck shown in the photo below almost ran over me in response to a doe in estrous call.  Even when he saw me and couldn't find the doe, I was able to keep him within yards of me by continuing to call to him.
6 point buck chasing
The culmination of the rut is the brief time when most of the mature whitetail does are bred.  In early to mid-November, the Midwestern whitetail doe comes into estrous, and allows the dominant bucks in the area to breed with her for about 24 hours.  Afterward, he leaves her in search of another doe in estrous.  This is often referred to as the "lock down" phase as the bucks, who had been moving so much, now are content to stay beside the doe until the breeding is complete.

Buck locked down with doe
The doe fawns born earlier in the year often don't come into estrous until December due to their young age.  This creates a "second rut" approximately 28 days after the first.  While it isn't nearly as pronounced as the primary rut, increased buck movement occurs again.

With both ruts over and virtually all does impregnated, the bucks' testosterone levels begin to fade.  This triggers a thinning of the bone between the bucks' skulls and antlers.  As this area thins and weakens, the antler ultimately falls off in late winter or early spring.  Hikers often find these "shed" antlers while out for springtime hikes.  A surge in testosterone production in late spring starts the process of antler growth all over again, culminating in another "magical time" later the next fall.

Bow Adventures - Fall 2012 Edition!