Crew Lead: Aaron Osowski
Members: John Horsfield, Adam Martin
Working with the Idaho Department of Fish and Game is always an exciting and unpredictable experience, and our first hitch with them was no exception. Upon arrival to their office in Salmon with almost no idea of what we were going to be doing (except the vague idea of ‘vegetation plots’), we were asked, “You all ready to paint some nails?” thinking it was a joke. The next two hours were spent dipping polebarn nails in orange paint, though for what we knew not. These nails, however, would serve as some of our most important tools in conducting our phenology plots of mule deer habitat at multiple locations across the state.
During this hitch all three of us were privileged to see some beautiful parts of the state and learn about a wide array of plants in different environments. We also got to work with some very interesting and knowledgeable people from both inside and outside the department. Mark Hurley and John Nelson, both from IDFG, served as both facilitators and co-workers for our phenology plots, and there was never a dull moment working with the two of them. We also got the pleasure to work with Jessie Thiel, a grad student who had worked with Fish and Game on elk and deer capture missions, and Justin Nadermann, an all-around plant genius who is a retired Fish and Game vet.
As it was the first hitch of the season, all of us learned a great amount from our experience with F&G; Adam, who saw mainly the western part of Idaho near McCall, particularly found the lifting of a dead moose into a truck bed as an invaluable lesson that he will treasure for the rest of his life. Doing two-hour ‘Hobbit’ readings in the truck during a rainstorm and eating beef jerky and Moon Pies were also some highlights of his trip. John enjoyed both learning plant phenology and identification in the field as well as the easy access to Taco Time (which features the infamous “Big Juan” burrito) during our 3-day stay at a house in Pocatello, which made us by far the most spoiled hitch. Other high points of the hitch included cooking without a camp stove (permanent burns on pot), taking the Lemhi Pass back to Salmon (omg), and trying to figure out exactly what is a groundsel and what isn’t (plant ID can get rewarding but tiresome).
Looking forward to working with IDFG again next week, including John Nelson and his amazing moustache.