Jim and I were out in the woods on Christmas Day doing our favorite thing — taking a hike. We circled around and were following a creek that went through a more wild section of our property that is overgrown with wild roses and bamboo. The turkeys and deer love it there as it makes excellent cover.
I spotted what looked to be an explosion of feathers. My first thought was that it was from a feather pillow. Odd. Very odd but possible because nearby there is an old couch that had fallen off someone’s moving truck on a curve of the road, before we bought the property, that we are gradually removing, piece-by-piece and taking to the trash drop-off center. But no…
I reach down and touched it. It was hair. Like you would see in the bristles of a paint brush — coarse, stiff. But oddly, there was no hide that it was attached to. Just hair. I knew it was from a deer but it was also odd that there was no skeleton.
I also noticed a smell. A smell that you would expect from a dead animal. That told me it was a fresh.
I started looking around and to my right, about 5 feet away was the skeleton I was looking for, but it was incomplete. No head. No legs. Picked-to-the-bone. I touched it and it was moist and flexible – again, another sign that it was fresh.
I was thrilled with my discovery. But couldn’t help but wonder why it was there. Had a hunter shot it and it came here to die? Had a coyote killed it? Or found it already dead or dying? I do believe that a coyote ate it. I’ve seen a coyote cross the road in the past on what appeared to be an active animal path right about where this carcass was.
As I was leaving the area, about 25 feet away, I saw one last identifying feature – one of the missing legs from the deer carcass. It, too, was still flexible.
We inherited several peach trees and a pear tree when we bought the farm. Last spring, the trees were heavy with fruit (as you can see from the photos), and we were looking forward to tasting them when they were ripe, but when we returned later that month, there were absolutely no fruit left on the trees and no signs of any pits or anything!
A trained eye (which mine is not), would probably see immediately what is wrong from viewing these photos. That is my plight that I have to overcome.
I was talking with my hair stylist yesterday about this. He has 15 fruit trees. He experienced the same thing. He had picked some fruit. They were not quite as ripe as he wanted so he was going to leave the rest on the tree for a few more days. The next day, they were all gone.
One of Our Peaches
He blamed raccoons and deer. One tip he gave to deter deer is to lay chain link fencing down flat on the ground or to lay out a grid-work of string. He said that deer do not like their feet to be bound when they are walking. Also, he said he’d plant standard size trees, if he had to do it over again, so that the branches would be taller and the deer could not reach the tops.
Spray, Spray, and Spray Again
The first thing I need to do is to spray with dormant oil. He said that this would smother the larvae of the bugs that are in the trees and that I would have to do this a couple of times. I also need to prune. Another thing to learn. I am going to do this. I really want fruit this year.
During our last visit to our cabin in Sharps Chapel, I did not see a single deer, but they were there — their footprints were everywhere in the snow. That’s why I was interested when a neighbor suggested a way to attract more deer so that I could increase my chances of seeing them.
When I grew up in the 60′s in Ohio, I did not see a single deer on the 10-acre farm that we lived on the entire 15 years we lived there. Times certainly have changed! Deer are in abundance everywhere due to excellent wildlife management.
I still get a thrill at spotting deer and other wildlife. Our neighbor suggested that we plant some clover to increase our chances of doing so. He said now is a perfect time to sow the seed because the ground is naturally “tilled” due to the frost heaving that is going on with the unusual cold weather we are having.
Sharps Chapel has a variety of terrain – from rocky, rolling, open pastures to steeply wooded mountainsides, so I wanted to do a little research to see what kind of clover to plant. According to the Missouri Department of Conservation (they had a nice web page on deer management), they recommend Red Clover as being a favorite of white tailed deer.
Can’t wait until spring and want to attract deer now? Then go out and get a salt block or some corn.
To get you in the spirit, below is a web cam video that shows fox, turkey, deer and raccoon. I am a techie and would love to have my own web cam. That is on my to-do list. I can’t wait!