Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Predator or Prey?

When the cold had settled in and the snow partially melted, we knew the time had come to revisit our favorite mountain ridge. It requires several creek crossings to reach, so we only traverse that far when we have time and no weeds to deal with. So we pulled our waders on and headed back into the mountains.

It didn't take long to reach the first creek, and after the first faithful step into the creek, waded across the 20 foot width.

On the other side of the second creek, I was ahead when I heard my brother say something. Returning to where he was pointing, I saw what made him stop. The remains of a deer were strewn around, half eaten. Several bloody paw prints were leading in and around the remains. They indicated canine. I was surprised to find two other deer in various state of decay in a 20 foot radius of the first. The cold wind created an eerie chill to the situation as a light rain began to fall. It was probably the work of hunters that brought down the deer, but it wasn't humans that ate it. Feeling uneasy, we decided to backtrack for the day and go home.

The next day we returned to the carcass of the deer to place a trail camera. It isn't legal to bait in Virginia, but when one finds an already dead deer, I'm sure nothing prohibits placing a trail camera near it. Hopefully in a few weeks I will get some spectacular photos of scavengers.