Wednesday, February 28, 2024

Dinner is Served

Down at the edge of the wetland lay the carcass of a white-tail buck, nearby was a crossbow bolt (arrow), a good clue to the cause of its demise. The deer was probably wounded during the late archery hunting season which ended in January. Wounded deer, especially those hit in the abdomen, frequently head for water. The hunter never found the deer so there it lay.

Poachers frequently use crossbows since they’re silent and quite accurate, so the deer could have been wounded by a poacher working after dark. In that case there was almost certainly no effort made to find the deer.

When I found the carcass it had already been fed upon by scavengers – eastern coyote, bald eagle, vultures or …?


Another great opportunity to get videos of whatever was feeding on the carcass. As usual in an area without trees I mounted the camera on what is called a concrete stake, a half inch diameter steel rod three feet long with a series of holes along its length. These are usually used to hold concrete forms in place, but they’re also excellent for holding a camera trap.

With the camera trap in place there was nothing to do but wait for a week or so and then check the videos it obtained. The first week the camera had well over a hundred videos of vegetation blowing in the wind – but it also had many videos taken over several nights of a red fox feeding on the carcass –


Most predators will feed on the carcass of a dead animal or bird. Less energy is expended in feeding on something that's already dead and there’s much less risk of injury for the predator – an injured predator is at a distinct disadvantage in catching prey.

Over the years In Forest and Field has had a number of posts showing the creatures that have fed on the carcasses of a black bear, white-tailed deer, raccoon and screech owl.

The plan is for the camera trap to remain in place until the deer has been reduced to scattered bones and hair – bones that will be gnawed upon by rodents, hair that will grace nests of birds and rodents.

3 comments:

Jenn Jilks said...

We had this happen here, once. I think a deer was hit on the road and collapsed between our house and the road. (100+m)
I did the same thing. It was fascinating.

eileeninmd said...

Great captures of the red fox eating off the carcass.
I have driven past Eagles standing on a carcass having a meal.
Thank you for linking up and sharing your post. Take care, have a great weekend.

~Lavender Dreamer~ said...

I saw a wild hog carcass...just the hide and a few bones left at the preserve this week. It had been devoured...so life goes on. I always enjoy your posts and save the videos to watch in the evenings at my leisure!