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Friday, August 27, 2010

Dead deer at the farm

My dad was at the farm yesterday and when he went by the house he was greeted by an overpowering stench of death. He quickly found that the source was two dead mule deer. One was in the yard near the front door. It was mostly consumed and dried out to little more than skin and bones. Some of the bones were scattered but he could see that all four legs and the head were still there. The other deer was still at the point that liquid was running out of it. The second deer was on the concrete porch by the front door and under the porch overhang. That deer also had all four legs and the head. There were buzzards around an old junk pile about a quarter mile away that may indicate another deer but my dad didn't investigate that.

The game warden asked that we not disturb the deer until he had a chance to look them over, although he admits he probably won't be able to find many clues in what is left.

We suspect one of the following:

1. Feral natives driving around looking for something to steal or vandalize saw the deer and thought it would be fun to shoot them for no reason. Mule deer are not very wary and you can often walk or drive up to within 20 feet of them. You may ask "Wouldn't the second deer run away after you shot the first one?" and the answer would be "Not necessarily." I shot a 3x5 mule deer buck one morning. While the doe was looking at me trying to figure out what all the noise was about the buck ran off into the trees. After a minute or so the doe looked around for the buck and was surprised to find him gone. Then she went back to feeding. The problem with this scenario is the difference in the decomposition between the two deer. Possibly the one on the porch decayed slower because it is in the shade almost the whole day.

2. Someone poached the deer nearby and thought they would use the flat and relatively clean porch as a place to set them while they cut off the hind quarters but they were frightened off by something like a vehicle driving by.

3. The deer could have found some cotton or wheat seed that was treated with insecticide. That will kill deer and livestock. The deer could have found the seed a week or more apart. Wildlife is attracted to the area around the porch because we have a trough set up to collect rainwater. The scary part about this scenario is that it means there is probably a pile of treated seed somewhere and more deer may get into it. It could be on our farm or some other farm or it could have fallen off somebody's trailer and be sitting in a ditch.

We'll probably never know what happened to them. The question is: What to do about the bodies?

The one in the yard is mostly gone so we probably won't do anything with it. The one on the porch has reached the point that it would be messy and probably come apart if we tried to move it. My dad's suggestion is to leave the one on the porch for another week or two and give it a chance to dry out. Then scrape the remains off with hoes and use them to drag them out away from the house. If he had gone down there a few days earlier he could have just tied a rope around the neck and drug it off with his truck.

If these deer were killed by some yahoo out wasting time then I hope the jerk brags to someone and they turn him in. If they were killed by treated seed then I hope that a bunch of wild pigs finds it and cleans it up before more deer get into it.


Paladin said...

Hmmmmm.. a mystery. Since there's a difference in decomposition I would lean away from the poaching aspect too.

We have problems in the wildlife community with bad grain in more urban environments as well. Flock feeding birds like grackles and pigeons will sometimes find spoiled seed in neglected bird feeders or spilled and rotting tailings in the fields after harvest. I seen many times entire flocks of birds die en masse when they come back to suburban roosts for the night. Once I stood beneath a tree while the birds literally dropped dead and fell out of the trees around me. Kinda creepy. Fungus and ergot in grains, in addition to pesticides, can contribute to wildlife deaths.

Mayberry said...

If somebody did shoot them for the hell of it, I hope they get hit by a bus. I got no use for trash like that. If it was bad grain, hope you're right and the pigs get into it. Those things are destructive buggers!

Wretha said...

You can throw some lime on it, that helps with the decomposition and the smell, we had to do that a couple of years ago, a fawn had been taken down upwind from our place, the smell was bad and it was at the point that you didn't want to touch it...



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