Sportsman’s Report: Self-plucking birds and summer fun | Sports


Driving on a back country road, there are so many here, a big part of why we love living here. A gaggle of turkeys were together. Pulling off the road for a better look, they are all Tom turkeys, a bit raggedy in feather and paler in water than during the recent breeding season. Many birds molt their flight feathers and brightly colored breeding plumage, from summer to early fall in some species. Their feathers grow back over the summer months. In that same period the wild turkey ‘chicks’ grow from the dull, mottled brown colors of their mothers, the better to hide in the brown grass of summer, to more defined juvenile plumage. There have been no sightings of turkey chicks reported so far this spring. They often gang up with many hens and toms forming a perimeter around their broods to protect against the many predators that love to eat turkey. We can expect any time now to see baby quail, the size of buttons, trailing behind their mothers in a string, much like a string of ducklings paddling behind their watchful mothers.

Did you know when your cat bristles its hair or arches their back and hisses it is called the pilomotor reflex? When your dog raises their guard hairs as part of a threat display, when agitated, it is the action of the pilomotor reflex. Now my fellow naked ape, the next time you get goose bumps from fright, a chill or strong emotion you are having a pilomotor reflex, just like kitty. You also shed hair constantly as new ones grow. As you read this you are shedding hair and skin as you regrow your summer plumage.

The fishing reports for saltwater California halibut is still off the charts, daily bag limits are not uncommon. Salmon are being netted and promise bigger fish after the break in fishing pressure. The closure is a response by the regulatory bodies to help more salmon to get through to spawning grounds and provide more adult fish to return in three years as fully grown salmon. Resource management is something emigrant populations seem to have difficulty understanding. If the fish (or bird or deer) is available, why not take it? This is why we still have fish and game in our state.

Campers are shaking off the dust and airing out their tents, it is time again to sit around the campfire, burn marshmallows and use a flashlight to go to the potty. RV’rs are dusting off their rigs and repacking for summer trips across America. Some go far away to camp at the Petaluma KOA or make the long 45 minutes’ drive to Casini Ranch in Duncans Mill. It is all good fun for families to make memories over summer vacations. Years from now you can flip through a photo album (do we still have those?) and recall how much fun you had on a trip way back in 2022. ‘Grandpa, when you were a kid in 2022 did you still drive a real car to buy food?’ ‘Yes, sonny, we sure did. ‘Why I remember when we still went to school.’ ‘What’s a school grandpa?’

Bill Hanson is a Sonoma County native and a lifelong sportsman. He is the former president of the Sonoma County Mycological Association. Look for his column in The Community Voice each week.

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