Thursday, February 4, 2016

Dead Deer

Wandering around in the Big Woods one morning I came upon the carcass of what had been a very nice white-tailed buck with eight points on his antlers. There wasn’t much left of him, just bones with some muscle and tendons attached, a few of the abdominal organs, his head (which was almost intact) and lower legs. It wasn’t an attractive sight, but was full of opportunities nonetheless.

After finding the deer’s remains, I looked through last year’s collection of photos from a camera trap that hadn’t been very far from where the buck spent his final moments. There was a photo taken in mid-September 2015 of a buck that was most likely the same animal –
The buck had probably been shot, and not retrieved, during deer season which ended about six weeks before I found his remains. During that time he had fed scavengers, from bacteria to much larger creatures, perhaps even a black bear.

While regretting that I hadn’t found the buck earlier, this was too good an opportunity to let pass. So it didn’t take long to return with a camera trap and set it overlooking the carcass –

In the first few days four crows repeatedly visited to feast on the remains; they were so active that the camera captured over 300 photographs of them in three days –
They were occasionally replaced by a red-tailed hawk that came to pick at the carcass

After a light snow and just before dusk a coyote also visited, but apparently found the pickings rather slim as it hasn’t returned –

The next day a doe stopped and smelled the remains; she may be carrying fawns sired by the now dead buck -

On following days other species also came to nibble on the remaining tissue and bones, an opossum came on several days –

And a porcupine –

The smallest species that the camera could detect was the white-footed mouse that often ran over the carcass and was hard to see in the photos –

A raccoon also came several times -
On one visit the raccoon spent quite a while feeding on the dead deer -
Each day the camera captured over 100 photographs of the four crows and it appeared that only four crows were feeding there – were they the same four? Then one day there were five crows –

The camera trap will stay there for a while to see what else visits the carcass. Had I found it earlier the camera would probably have yielded more photos of the coyote, and maybe photos of a raven, fisher, black bear or bobcat and, if I had been really lucky, maybe a golden eagle. Oh well, life is full of “what ifs”.


  1. This is amazing how many critters that deer is feeding. Great thinking to put the camera overlooking the site.

  2. Wow, amazing series of images. I lot of critters were fed well. Thank you for linking up and sharing your post. Have a happy weekend!

  3. You definitely took advantage of a sad situation. Alas, that's the cycle of nature.

  4. Sad for the deer. But such a great opportunity to capture so many critters on your camera!

  5. Wow, nothing got wasted,nature supplies all,phyllis


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