Monday, November 14, 2016

Turf War on the Trail Cam

A few months back, my dad and my brother-in-law went in together to buy one of those souped-up side-by-side golf carts, and they keep it at my parents' house. My parents live on several acres, most of which is a field, but there is a fairly large wooded area on the east line of their property. My dad took it upon himself to cut down a few trees to make a cart path through the woods behind his house. He even went so far as to construct a small wooden bridge over a creek in the woods, so he wouldn't get the cart muddy. For his birthday this past September, I bought my dad a trail cam to put down near the new bridge. I figured that the bridge would start getting some pretty decent traffic, not just from the cart, but from local wildlife as well.

My dad, Al, on his new toy.

Growing up, I was down in those woods fairly often. In third grade, my dad built me a fantastic treehouse, that in the decades since has unfortunately rotted away. Admittedly, since leaving the nest for college, my time in the woods has been limited. However, since my dad and Alan bought the side-by-side, the entire family has been zooming through the woods fairly often. I'm glad that I am able to re-familiarize myself with the woods, and glad that the new, younger generation of Vosses are spending some time down there too.

This past weekend was the opening weekend of rifle deer hunting in Missouri. For the second year now, I helped out at my in-laws' butcher shop in Washington. I spent two days checking in deer, cutting off antler crowns and heads, removing legs, and generally hauling around dead deer. One benefit of working at a butcher shop in deer season is that every now and then, you'll get your hands on some neat scraps, namely a 6-point buck head that a hunter didn't want to keep. I learned from another hunter that day that if you bury a buck head in the ground for a year, when you pull it out, the bugs in the ground should make it fairly clean, leaving just the skull and antlers. I decided to give it a shot.

My dad and I cruised to the edge of the woods in his side-by-side, and he watched me bury this deer head in the ground. While we were down there, we stopped by his trail cam to grab the SD card and see what types of creatures were lurking his woods at night. I set up his camera to where it will capture 3-picture bursts of images. It has decent night vision and each photo details the date, time, and moon phase. I think my dad was almost as excited as I was when I gave it to him. That's the best kind of birthday present.

The album below tells a fantastic tale of two neighbor dogs in a turf war with a couple of coyotes. My dad put a salt block and a few old jack-o-lanterns near his bridge, and the dogs and coyotes are constantly marking the area, usually within a few hours of each other. I've heard coyotes yelping before at my parents' but never have I seen one. I've had a soft spot for coyotes since watching a documentary about the song dogs last year at Montauk. I know they can be a pest, but I'm happy that they're living on my parents' property.

In addition to the dogs and coyotes, I was surprised to see a small buck wandering around the bridge (excuse the J.J. Abrams lens flair). I have never seen a deer at my parents' house before, so it came as quite a shock. I am very excited to see what else this camera captures in the future. Already I have seen more wildlife in the woods in the past 30 days than I did my entire life growing up there.

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