Friday, October 17, 2014

The Life Count on One Hay Bale

I have walked a lot of fields at different times of the year, as have all of us who hunt.

The frozen wind-swept tundra of January breaks to the bright green grass of April, the rapacious thorns of August, and the impenetrable thickets of October.

As the vegetation rises, changes, and subsides, and as different grasses, forbs, fruits, and nuts come into season and decay, different birds, insects, and large and small mammals move across the land.

Falconer Matt Mullenix was pondering the difference between a Louisiana hay field standing tall and uncut, versus one mowed and bundled, and postulated a cost count:
One hay bale equals one rabbit, two rails, four doves, half a dozen blackbirds, a dozen sparrows, two dozen cotton rats, twenty five leopard frogs, and ten thousand Arthropoda. 
That sounds about right for his neck of the woods.

In our area we would trade cotton rats for field mice and voles, and we would lose the leopard frog for a few garter snakes, with a groundhog tossed on top for every five bales, a raccoon for every 50 bales, a deer for every 75 bales, and a fox for every 100.

Fields edged with forest hold best, and hedgerows bordered by soy on one side and corn on the other hold the most, and it's always a good thing when water is nearby.

But does a plowed or mowed field ever hold as much as those that are left to run riot for 10 months of the year?  Not in my experience.

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