By Larry Dablemont
I don’t have much trouble social distancing. I live on a high ridge miles from any towns. This ridge is completely timbered, with a nice pond I built to water wild creatures that live here, and there are a lot of them. My pond is full of fish, all native species, with bullfrogs as well.
The trees on my ridge are huge; oaks, walnuts, hickories, sassafras and many other species. There are dogwoods and redbuds, persimmons and black cherry, and edible mushrooms and wildflowers in the proper seasons. The trees are huge, making me think this ridge where I live has never been logged. Not only are old stumps missing but there are hundreds of oaks and walnuts and hickories that are 150 years old. Several big white oaks are certainly much older than 200 years.
I could tell you about the dozens of species of unusual birds that pass through according to the season but I found something not long ago that is even more rare still, not suppose to be in the Ozarks anywhere. But there it was, underneath a plywood board next to one of my duck decoy sheds… a gray shrew. There is no doubt in my mind that is what it is, though some might argue about it until they see the photos. It is not suppose to be in Missouri, Arkansas or Kansas. Some have been found in Oklahoma. You can see the photo of him on my BlogSpot — www.larrydablemontoutdoors.blogspot.com That site is maintained so that I can post photos I take regularly in the outdoors. It also carries my weekly outdoor columns, a week or so later than newspapers use them. I do that because several dozen newspapers in three states print this column and some readers look for it and can’t find it on occasion. Sometimes my column is too critical of something and newspapers are afraid to use it, but usually it is because a paper has space problems and can’t get it in. But you can always find it with my photographs on that BlogSpot if you can operate a computer. The photos this week are something. There is a photo of a tiny deer track about an inch-and-a-half long that I took the last week of November. It is so small it has to be a spotted fawn born in the last month or so, which survived the deer season, because the doe tracks were with it. That is tremendously unusual, but it happens. About two years back I saw a fawn born the last day of February.
But let me get back to that gray shrew. When you realize that about any shrew will die if it doesn’t get food every 4 to 6 hours, and that they do not hibernate, how can they possibly live through the winter when they don’t have reptiles and the small hibernating mammals? Shrews like to spend the winters under old sheds and barns, and old buildings where non-hibernating small creatures are found. There are mice and voles that do not hibernate. That gray shrew, only about 3 inches long, and others of the shrew family, is ferocious, and capable of killing mice, and small birds. They will also kill and eat other shrews.
Well, there will be biologists who say that it is impossible to find a gray shrew in the Ozarks region, but I have the photograph. I think it is a significant find, but I don’t know who to contact with the photo. Take a look at it and see what you think.
Next week I will write about seeing black vultures farther north than I have ever seen them, and you won’t believe where they were. Those birds are a problem and in north Arkansas they are hated. More about that next week.
I have a bunch of my Christmas magazines I am giving away, both the Outdoor Journal magazine and the Ozark Journal magazine. If you would like to receive them just send me the stamps to mail them to you. One magazine can be mailed for 5 stamps, both of them for 8. Both of my magazines sold for 6 bucks on newsstands. Just mail the postage to Lightnin Ridge Publishing, Box 22, Bolivar, MO. 65613. You can email me now at firstname.lastname@example.org For the past month that email hasn’t worked but it does now, for a little while at least. Or you can call my office at 417 777 5227. I am there when I am not hunting. I don’t go to town except to buy shotgun shells or donuts!