Tuesday, January 3, 2012

# 164 - The Woods and a Skull

Our land is near The Big Thicket Preserve, which means we get lots of wildlife visiting our property. Also, the spring-fed creek on our land entices the local furry creatures to come get a cool, refreshing drink. 

As Deputy Dave mowed some of the grounds, I began inspecting a pathway from the creek toward The Big Thicket and found these tracks.

The ground is soft, but I don't know how big this deer must be to make this size track.

Deputy Dave once had a very close encounter with a huge buck on our property as he was working near the creek. As Deputy Dave bent down to collect a large fallen branch, he heard the forest ground behind him cracking. Suddenly, a very large buck appeared at a powerful run to jump the creek directly to Deputy Dave's left side and it startled the cock-a-doodle-do out of the Deputy. To be fair, the buck was not expecting us to be in the middle of his domain.

As the buck jumped past Deputy Dave, he yelled out to me, "Watch Out!" and I spun in a non-graceful circle just in time to completely miss seeing the buck before it disappeared into the woods. Of course, that is my luck, I missed the entire big buck show, but the buck did run on flighted feet very close to me.

So, we do have abundant deer on our property.
This will be such fun when it comes time to plant our gardens! Yah!

An old fallen white oak tree on our property seems to be a comfy hang-out for a local deer hunter. This is not the first time we've come across a deer hunter's things on our land. Deputy Dave had also found a deer blind in a tree and he removed all of the equipment so that the trespasser could not come back so easily. We've put up "No Trespassing" signs all over the place, but it doesn't work. Nothing works with the exception of our constant presence on the acreage.

Our generator is against this fallen tree, but if you look closely, you'll see the yellowed foam pad that a hunter has used to sit and wait out a passing deer. The deer tracks that I took a picture of in the above photos are tracks crossing directly along the length of the fallen tree.

Okay, here's a closer view of the foam pad used as a comfortable seat in the woods.

As for deer on our property, Deputy Dave and I went for a walk during our camp-out and the dogs raced off into the woods on a sniffing expedition. Immediately, I realized that they had located something that would surely be "interesting." Walking closer, I said, "That's a deer skull."

At first, Deputy Dave didn't quite agree with my declaration, until he walked closer and picked up...a deer skull.

Yep, it's a deer skull with the antlers attached.

"You're going to have to bleach this thing," he says.

I respond, "Oh sure, I'll get right on it...I'm an expert at bleaching deer skulls and other animal bones found in the woods."

It was a funny moment. Get out the bleach! We wouldn't want to have a dirty deer skull lying around the house.

Back at our camp site, Howdy is not ready to part with his treasured forest find. He is in love. He likes the look of it; he likes the smell of it; he is intrigued.

I think he's trying to herd the dead deer. He's not quite trusting that it's really not going anywhere. He continuously circles the deer skull suspiciously.

Howdy decides to take a different approach and he looks at his newfound forest buddy in the missing "eyes" one more time. I can almost hear Howdy's warning, "Don't you go anywhere; You hear? I'm watching you."

The country has so much to offer, so many surprises and hidden treasures. The forest can be wonderful, but it can also be a bit creepy.

And if anyone out there knows how to deal with a deer head that has antlers attached, I have a few questions...

#1 Can I really bleach it to whiten it? And would I use regular household bleach?
#2 Will the antlers remain attached to the deer skull?
#3 Can anyone tell the age of this deer by looking at it along with other information?

If you have anything to offer about this deer skull, I'm eager to hear what you have to say about it. Bones will be a weird collection to start comprising, but our future grand-kids will probably think it's pretty cool. Heck, I'm 43 and I think that finding a skull in the woods is still fairly amusing.

But, deep down, I'm a geek. Yes, Deputy Dave is married to a geek. A funky kind of science-minded geek. At least I'm never bored because life has too much to offer for me to be resting on my non-existent laurels.

And geeks like icky things, perhaps that's one of the reasons I'm drawn to life in the country...not just for the beauty and peacefulness, but for the weird, interesting things that you'd never find in the city.

Such is the country life...icky things definitely have their place.


Tombstone Livestock said...

Yes you can use regular household bleach and water then put skull out in the sun.

Those do not look like deer foot prints, deer only have 2 "toes" same as sheep and goats. Hogs have 2 cloven hoofs also, but am trying to recall if there is a 3 toed wild hog. I know there is a mule foot hog that has a foot more like an equine. Hmmmm time for wildlife foot print internet search.

Charade said...

I agree that the tracks are not deer, but I'm not sure what they are. I'm liking the skull, though. Very cool. You can see where some animal, maybe opossum or raccoon, has gnawed on the antlers for the minerals they hold.
Be sure to dilute the bleach with equal parts of water, and don't leave it in the solution for more than a day. Let a good scrub brush and the sun help you out with the cleanup. I always use a matte clear acrylic spray on antlers that have been out in the elements, too, to prevent further deterioration.

Vickie said...

These two ladies are right on. We've got things like that around here, too. If you ever find a skull that still has tissue on it, lay it on top of a fire ant hill, and the ants will do the work for you, then you can go ahead and bleach it. The sun does wonders on it, and some time.

You keep an eye out for hogs, too, young lady. They are dangerous. Next thing you need is a CHL and a pistol attached to your side.

LindaG said...

Imagine how easy to fill your freezer come deer season. ;-)

Our BIL has the same problem with his woodsy property and hunters.
He even shot up their feed stations one year.
They (I presume) let the air out of his tractor tires.

He doesn't live there yet, either; and doesn't have any buildings on the property yet.

Howdy is funny. Good dog though. :-)

And yeah, you should probably clean it. ;-)
A first google reading says a peroxide bath -Walmart 3% solution is fine - for a few days will whiten it nicely. It also said boiling and bleaching will deteriorate it, though yours is already well weathered. Just like you see on the TV shows. :-)

However, your other commenters probably know better than me. When I don't know, I google...

In Alaska for moose antlers they just hang them on the fence (or the side of buildings) and let the sun and air do the work. haha!

Mike said...

This is a 6 point buck and the teeth, from what I can see look pretty good. Probably between 3 - 4 years old. No clue on bleaching.

I've never seen a 3-toed deer, either. However, it is possible for the dew claws to touch the ground if the deer is running or the soil is soft. Pigs don't normally have 3 toes either. However, they have dew claws capable of touching the soil.

All in all, you'll find out when you live there and witness all of Mother Nature's critters.

Dar said...

The tracks are deer. They sometimes follow-up the back feet in the front track if they are on the move, running, but rest assured the tracks are of the deer, maybe even a second deer over-stepping in the first ones track.
When I prepare skulls for European mounts, if needed like yours, I bleach in a 50-50 solution of mild household bleach and water for at least a day. Your skull appears to have been lying in the woods at least a few months or more. The mice or porcupine have gnawed at the minerals in the antlers a bit, adding to it's character. A real find. I have searched heavily wooded areas for years and have only found one skull. Maybe it's time I get a dog. Have fun restoring your antlered skull and do as Charade suggests with the acrylic spray. It works for me too and brings life back to them.

Dreaming said...

I love reading all of your comments about the skull and the tracks. How interesting! I noticed the '3 toed' look, but decided, as Dar explained, that the deer was stepping in his/her own tracks.
We had a dog that retrieved a deer, piece by piece over several weeks! First he dragged a leg into the years, then another, etc. We got the skull, with antlers and some flesh still attached. We did put it on an ant hill and they did a fine job. I never bleached the skull - it stayed outside for a bit and the sun whitened it to some degree. Oh... the final piece the dog brought back? The hide - BLEECH! It stunk! Our poor dog just couldn't understand our lack of delight in all of his treasures!

Stefanie said...

Mom, Brice said those are deer tracks. He sees them all the time when he hunts. He said the same exact thing the last couple people said, they are restepping on the same print. They step with their front leg, and then their back leg follows and adds that "third toe."

Farming On Faith said...

Thank you for stopping by today and leaving such a sweet comment. What a testimony of grace and a blessing to my heart!

I pray you have a blessed New Year!