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Old 08-23-2016, 12:17 PM   #1
je2000
 
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Marfa to McDonald Observatory at Dusk

I soon may find myself in Marfa on the 1st of October. The McDonald Observatory Star Party is scheduled for 6:45pm. It's about a 45 minute ride.

I was wondering what the local deer population might be like out there at this time. I know in some places at this time of day they are crossing the road all the time. If the chances are increased greatly I'd just drive. We are planning on doing our riding/sightseeing down in the National Park anyway.
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Old 08-23-2016, 03:06 PM   #2
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Re: Marfa to McDonald Observatory at Dusk

Yep, you're probably going to see a deer or two. I was out there last February, what surprised me was the number of dead feral hogs I encountered from the state park to a few miles past the turn off to the observatory. My count was 8, from piglets to one that easily went 300 pounds.

I do a good bit of night riding doing Iron Butt. Two important things, really really bright long distance spotlights and slow down. Also it's not a bad idea to carry a Spot or similar device, cell service is pretty sketchy, if things go sideways.

Have a great trip!
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Old 08-23-2016, 03:32 PM   #3
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Re: Marfa to McDonald Observatory at Dusk

If your schedule allows, getting to the observatory early to look around at the other exhibits and visit the big telescopes is worthwhile if you haven't done it before.

I will say coming back down after the star party, there is steady stream of vehicles but we did still see at least one hapless 'coon become a hit-and-run victim. Not much of an event in a cage, but on a bike it could be more exciting.

Last time we were there was about the same time of year but I didn't see any deer close calls on the road up or down the mountain.
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Old 08-23-2016, 04:32 PM   #4
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Re: Marfa to McDonald Observatory at Dusk

Group of us on motorcycles went to the star party several years ago while staying at Ft. Davis. Wild hogs were what we saw on the way down - they tend to blend in with the night d/t their dark coloring. Taking the car up & back would be the safer bet.
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Old 08-23-2016, 05:22 PM   #5
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Re: Marfa to McDonald Observatory at Dusk

Hogs are going to be the bigger threat out there, namely Javelina. Take it easy up and back and mount up some high power LEDs before you leave. It's not a requirement but can make life a bit easier
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Old 08-23-2016, 06:51 PM   #6
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Re: Marfa to McDonald Observatory at Dusk

Thanks everyone. We'll see how the trip from Austin goes. I've been looking into some aux lights anyway. Now's a good as time as any to pull the trigger.
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Old 06-02-2017, 06:12 PM   #7
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Re: Marfa to McDonald Observatory at Dusk

I know I'm coming in late to the conversation but what the heck..

A few years we stayed at Ft Davis State Park the week of Thanksgiving in our travel trailer. I brought my KLR and took a day trip to Big Bend coming back to camp (85 miles or so) in the early evening so we could make the Star Party. I nearly froze and my biggest concern was pigs in the very abandoned highway. I didnt see any enroute, but during the week they showed up at our camp and managed to get our turkey from cooler sitting outside. I fought them till I got it back and we have a nice meal that holiday - almost consisting of pig and turkey .
Deer everywhere.. Anyway, good times - been wanting to go back.
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