Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Deer Portraits and Stories

I'm still working away on those deer legs (as well as lining a winter hat with the fur of a roadkill badger, but that's another story). Meanwhile, here are a few deer portraits that were taken last month, as well as their accompanying stories. I often think this blog is a little deer-heavy, but deer are probably the most conspicuous, easy-to-find dead creatures, and Michigan is absolutely rife with them.

On November 16, the day after the start of rifle season, a doe was hit on US 41, pretty close to where I live. At the time, I was sorely tempted to call it in and take the deer home, but I decided not to -- I didn't have the space nor the knowledge of the art of field dressing. I took some pictures, and hoped that the fur and meat wouldn't go to waste.

The next morning, she was gone.

The following week, I got a tip from a friend: there was a deer head at an entrance to the Fit Strip, and "the brain was oozing out." It sounded like a classic instance of poaching, but, upon finding the head on Thanksgiving day, I realized that might not have been the case. The brain wasn't oozing out, and in fact, there were no antlers to speak of -- the deer had been a very young doe. The head and neck were severed from the rest of the body (which was nowhere to be found), and scavengers had gnawed away at the neck meat. Left behind was a gruesome sight: the head of the deer, in perfect condition (save for its sunken eyes), its spine protruding from beneath the neck skin. It was a puzzling discovery; the cuts along the hide and neck vertebrae indicated that a person had severed it from the rest of the body, and had likely dumped it in the woods. But where had the deer come from? Surely, no one would poach such a small doe?

It very well could have been poached, but it's my belief that the deer was probably hit by a car, and someone brought it home for the meat. The head was chucked into the woods, and there it stayed, until someone's dog retrieved it (probably much to the owner's horror). Anyway, I took the head home and photographed it. Because of its strange, severed nature, it presented some challenges. I didn't try to put it in a natural setting, and instead decided it looked best (and bizarre) resting on a tree stump. I omitted the spine in my photographs.

Thanksgiving Doe 

I think it's worth mentioning that I found three ticks on this deer head; one of them was quite engorged with blood. All three were still alive.

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