- The Washington Times - Sunday, December 12, 2004

People who go afield in search of wild game should see and remember things in the woods, marshes and meadows that most house-bound folks would never notice. We’re talking about all wildlife, not just the hunter’s desired quarry.

Herewith, 20 random questions. Get from 17 to 20 right and you’re a self-made naturalist, an outdoors expert. Answer 13 to 16 of them correctly and you’re still above those who sport a neon tan. If you get nine to 12 right, you’ve been there, but need to go back more often. Anything less than nine correct answers suggests you should take up bowling or maybe macrame.

1. Everybody knows woodpeckers hammer away on trees to find food, looking for borer beetles or a few insects. They never eat seeds and other substances. True or false?

2. When compared to the sharp-eyed whitetailed deer, a bear is a veritable Mr. Magoo, possessing only passable eyesight. True or false?

3. Bald eagles eat only fish. While other birds of prey readily feed on warm-blooded animals or smaller birds, bald eagles never do. True or false?

4. The deer lives in a stark world that is made up only of grey, black and white. However, wild waterfowl can recognize and react to a variety of colors. True or false?

5. Minks are not found in the wild in Maryland and Virginia. True or false?

6. Many outdoorsmen believe the muskrat to be a delicacy, served on quite a few rural tables. True or false?

7. Who has the better lungs for long-distance running, a dog or a deer?

8. Squirrels and woodland mice eat the rock-hard antlers shed by bucks in late winter. True or false?

9. While actually plentiful in the northeastern U.S., in the Middle Atlantic states the black bear is an endangered species. True or false?

10. There are no bobcats found in the wild in Maryland. True or false?

11. Wild turkeys are solitary woodland creatures that gather in flocks only during mating season. True or false?

12. Deer generally live and die within one square mile of where they were born. True or false?

13. The same goes for the black bear. The bruins are real homebodies, rarely traveling long distances. True or false?

14. The whitetailed deer must feed on some kind of mast daily or risk serious illness? True or false?

15. The continually noisiest calling bird in the forest is the woodpecker, not the bluejay or wild turkey. True or false?

16. Wolverines are found in the wild in Maryland and Virginia. True or false?

17. The number of tines on a buck’s antlers can be used to determine his age. True or false?

18. Because of their narrow hooves, deer are poor swimmers. In fact, they are frightened of water. True or false?

19. Cottontail rabbits prefer not to run downhill because of their hind legs being longer than the front legs, hence risking a tumble. True or false?

20. What is it, ruffed grouse or ruffled grouse?


1. False. They’ll nibble on bird feeder seeds now and then and also enjoy suet.

2. True. Bears rely more on scent and hearing than on sight.

3. False. They sometimes act like buzzards, hacking away at road-killed animals.

4. True. Wear a bright red cap while standing in a blind and see how many ducks you’ll see.

5. False. They’re occasionally seen by hunters along creek banks and such.

6. True. In Southern Maryland and along both states’ Eastern Shore, muskrat are a dinner treat.

7. Dog — by a long shot. Deer are short-distance sprinters, not marathon runners.

8. True. It’s amazing how quickly the little rodents chew up antlers until they’re gone.

9. False. Virginia, Maryland and Pennsylvania are home to quite a large number of bears.

10. False. Bobcats occur in the far western parts of the state.

11. False. Turkeys are social birds and travel in large groups most always.

12. True. They move away from their home territory only when pressed to do so.

13. False. Bears are vagabonds who will cover many miles in a day just to find food or a mate.

14. False. Deer can go a month without eating and still remain healthy.

15. True. Woodpeckers make twice the calling noise as bluejays or turkeys do.

16. False. But a close lookalike, the fisher, a large member of the marten family is a local animal.

17. False. Antlers have far more to do with proper nutrition than age.

18. False. Deer skin is densely covered with hollow hairs, hence they float and swim very well.

19. True. Whenever possible, they’ll run on flat straightaways or uphill.

20. Ruffed grouse without the “l” is correct. These mountain birds are ruffled only when you shoot at them.

Look for Gene Mueller’s Outdoors column Sunday, Wednesday and Thursday, only in The Washington Times. E-mail: gmueller@washingtontimes.com.

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