New Feature

Click on Columnists  to access travelogues, field reports, advice, humorous tales and answers to your Q’s! 





Products-Services


Website of the Week

                                




Show Respect and Pass Through Quietly

uick, roll up the windows!” said Kathy. We had just entered the ten-mile auto tour route at Lower Klamath National Wildlife Refuge, when four cars roared by us like we were standing still. Pulling to the side of the road, we waited for the dust cloud that enveloped us to subside.

“Where did all these inconsiderate people come from?” I said, in slightly less delicate terms.

My wife and I love seeing and photographing wildlife, but our primary reason for coming to wildlife refuges, like Lower Klamath and Tule Lake, is for the serenity and enjoyment of experiencing nature. Competing for the next “photo op” was not what we had in mind.

Mature bald eagle perched on snag at Lower Klamath National Wildlife Refuge. Photo by Steven and Kathy Callan
Mature bald eagle perched on snag at Lower Klamath National Wildlife Refuge. All photos by Steven and Kathy Callan

I thought about a recent piece I had read in Ducks Unlimited magazine, entitled “Public Land Ethics.” The article provided ten rules for hunters to follow when hunting on public lands. Having enforced fish and wildlife regulations for thirty years, I was well aware of these rules -- none of which were subject to enforcement -- all of which require respect.

So, where am I headed with this train of thought? Respect is required of everyone who passes through a state or federal wildlife area -- that includes photographers, bird-watchers and sightseers, as well as hunters. Visitors should respect the lands, respect the wildlife, and respect other visitors by showing them common courtesy. If you’re kicking up dust, no matter how dry the conditions, you’re driving way too fast.

Mallard pair at Lower Klamath National Wildlife Refuge, Photo by Kathy and Steve Callan
Mallard pair at Lower Klamath National Wildlife Refuge

After watching the dust clouds finally disappear, we slowly proceeded toward a stand of mature cottonwood trees at the west end of the auto tour route; according to one of the volunteers at the refuge visitor center, about thirty bald eagles had been frequenting the grove. Arriving at a flooded wetland, we began photographing an assortment of common duck species: mallards, pintails, gadwalls, widgeons, and buffleheads, along with massive concentrations of snow geese and white-fronted geese.

“Look, there’s a mature bald eagle up ahead,” I said. “Let’s see if we can get close enough for a photograph.”

“I’ll get the camera ready,” Kathy replied.

Butte Valley Wildlife Area with Mount Shasta in background, photo by Kathy and Steven Callan
Butte Valley Wildlife Area with Mount Shasta in background

The majestic, white-headed bird sat motionless on the tip of a partially submerged snag while I inched the car within range of our 300 millimeter lens -- close enough for a reasonably good photograph, yet not so close as to disturb the eagle. Kathy had depressed the camera shutter once or twice, when a sedan came roaring up behind us -- its headlights on and a thirty-foot dust cloud in its wake. Hitting the brakes, the driver swerved to the right and came to a stop ten feet from our rear bumper. “There goes the eagle,” said Kathy. Thoroughly disappointed, we watched as the magnificent raptor disappeared into the marsh. As a general rule, wildlife will tolerate just so much human interference before vacating an area. By exhibiting no respect for us or the eagle, the driver of that car had pretty much ruined our experience.

Before leaving the refuge, we came to the much-talked-about grove of giant cottonwoods. All of the eagles had left, with the exception of one nesting bird. Parked beneath the nest were four cars, all unoccupied -- it seemed everyone was spread out along the road, setting up tripods and operating camera equipment. A mustard-yellow SUV -- its doors left wide open and blocking the road -- was the cherry on the sundae. We stopped and waited while the driver walked back from his tripod and closed his door so we could pass. I had read in the refuge brochure that “staying in your vehicle will increase your observation opportunities.” Apparently, these camera buffs hadn’t read the pamphlet.

Golden eagle perched on power pole at Butte Valley Wildlife Area, photo by Kathy and Steven T. Callan
Golden eagle perched on power pole at Butte Valley Wildlife Area

Leaving the refuge, I suggested that we get a good night’s sleep in Klamath Falls, wake up early, and check out Butte Valley Wildlife Area the next morning. Located five miles west of Macdoel, California, Butte Valley Wildlife Area contains 13,392 acres of wetlands, grasslands, and farmlands managed by the California Department of Fish and Wildlife.

It was a brisk nineteen degrees early the next morning as we left Highway 97 and headed up Meiss Lake Road toward the wildlife area. We had driven a mile or so, when we noticed an immature bald eagle perched on a power line at the side of the road. “This is already better than yesterday,” I said.

Arriving at the wildlife area, we spotted a sign reading Auto Tour Road. Driving out through this vast array of grasslands, wetlands, and open space, Kathy and I couldn’t help noticing that we were quite alone. “This is more like it!” I said. “We have the entire wildlife area all to ourselves.” To the south was snow-covered Mount Shasta, in all its glory. To the east were unspoiled grasslands as far as the eye could see. To the north and west were birds of every shape, size, and color. We identified twelve bald eagles, two golden eagles, and three rough-legged hawks within the first half mile. Immense flocks of snow geese lifted from the wetlands and landed again. Smaller flocks of swans punctuated the landscape, intermixed with a dozen species of ducks. As if that were not enough, sandhill cranes entertained us with their courtship ritual -- jumping in the air, bobbing their heads, and flapping their wings -- much to our delight.

Sandhill cranes in mating ritual at Butte Valley Wildlife Area, photo by Kathy and Steven T. Callan
Sandhill cranes in mating ritual at Butte Valley Wildlife Area

Butte Valley Wildlife Area provided one of the most enjoyable wildlife adventures Kathy and I had ever experienced. I encourage others to share and enjoy this special place, with one very important condition: please show respect for the land, the wildlife, and other visitors. Above all, pass through quietly.

Steven T. Callan, a retired California Fish and Game lieutenant, is a writer and the author of 2013 “Book of the Year” finalist "Badges, Bears, and Eagles—The True-Life Adventures of a California Fish and Game Warden.” He recently received the 2014 “Best Outdoor Magazine Column” award from the Outdoor Writers Association of California. Steve will be signing copies of his hit book at the Nor-Cal Boat, Sport and RV Show on Saturday, March 7, from 10:00 a.m.to 4:00 p.m. in the Shasta Building.

 

Your outdoor adventures have only just begun
Northern California Fishing News, Northern California Hunting Reports

Fishing News

Northern California and Southern Oregon offer superb fresh and saltwater fishing. Before you make a trip, make sure you have
up-to-date news about where the fish are biting!

Hunting News

This region is also famous for its world-class hunting opportunities. Make sure you are armed with the absolute latest news by checking
the reports being filed daily at MyOutdoorBuddy.com.

Northern California Outdoor News, Northern California Outdoor Reports Outdoor News 

If you like to explore the great outdoors your choices are essentially infinite in Northern California and Southern Oregon. Use our news pages to plan your next outing!

Northern California Destination News, Northern California Destination Reports

Destinations

So many places to visit and so little time, but if you scan
these pages you'll know in advance what lies ahead and what
not to miss in the almost-mythical State of Jefferson.
Buddy Photos

You are there! Towering mountains, vast valleys, unique shorelines. Land, water and air bursting with life. Opportunity presents itself. Llghting is right. Click! An image is captured for the ages.

Photo Galleries, MyOutdoorBuddy.com

Photo Galleries

A preview of coming attractions...if you are planning a trip to this area be forewarned: What photographers have captured will whet your appetite for what will be an outdoor journey filled with wonders.  

Product & Services Directory

Don't let anything come between you and a wonderful weekend, vacation or or auto tour in this region. The fine product and services providers listed here will have what you need to enjoy your visit.  

Come back to MyOutdoorBuddy.com for more Northern California and Southern Oregon fishing, hunting and outdoor news, reports, information, opinions and photos.

Facebook

A friend to all who love the outdoors since 2006

Website Design Photo Credits: MyOutdoorBuddy.com thanks the following individuals for contributing photographs for use on our Home and Section pages: Anders Tomlinson of Tule-Lake.com, Casey Allen of Bayside, CA; Jason Haley of Medford, OR; Steve Breth of Burney, CA; Tracy McCormack of Eureka, CA; Grant Thompson of Grand Junction, CO; Richard Bott of Shingletown, CA; Ron Loftus of Yreka, CA; Scott Caldwell of Montague, CA; Lorissa Soriano of Alturas, CA and the late Dave Menke, formerly with the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, Klamath Basin National Wildlife Refuge Complex.

Website Design by Anders Tomlinson

©Copyright 2005-2015 by Frank Galusha, Editor and Publisher. Articles and photos are copyright protected and are published exclusively on the Internet by the publisher and may not be copied, displayed, reproduced or published in any other form without the express written permission of same who reserves all rights. Material supplied by others is the copyrighted property of the respective authors. Re-use of any MyOutdoorBuddy content, graphics and photos without written permission by the author(s) for any purpose is strictly prohibited.