October 22, 2019

Discovering Those Unusual And Unexplained Things In The Woods

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God only knows how many miles I have walked in the woods in my lifetime or how many acres I’ve covered from state to state. During those times I have always found things that amazed me. It could be something as simple as watching a squirrel get a drink of water from a fast moving stream to sitting for several minutes observing a mother deer teaching her young about survival techniques. But sometimes I find something that sends me exiting the woods scratching my head.

It was perhaps as long as twenty-some years ago now, I was hunting in an area where I was familiar with the overall layout of the land but not very familiar with the specifics. In other words, I hadn’t hunted in these particular woods before.

I tell you. The reason I went there to hunt was threefold. One, I always saw deer crossing the road and entering into these woods. Two, I had come to the conclusion that not very many, if any at all, hunters worked these woods and three, I was working not too far from here so I could go there early in the mornings and maybe even get a short hunt in just before dark.

I woke one Saturday morning to a surprising 4-inch snowfall. I bailed out of bed, geared up and headed out to this area for the first time.

I quietly poked around getting a sense of terrain, growth and I also was looking for game trails, scrapes and pawings.

The snow made it quiet that’s for sure but the higher in the sky the sun moved, the warmer it became. The snow was softening and getting sticky, making a crunchy sound under foot.

As I traversed from one area to another, often crossing my own footsteps, I noticed two things. The snow had now become very wet as it melted and the area was completely trampled with deer tracks.

I was in an area that had a mixture of young softwood trees, mostly pine and fir, and white birch. I have found these areas many times in the woods and for me they have always been fruitful.

The area I was in with this kind of growth and cover, was perhaps only one to two acres in size and right smack dab in the middle of this was a large knoll that rose up maybe 10 feet above the surrounding terrain. Again, I repeat. The ground was trampled with almost no area free of deer tracks.

When I spotted the knoll, I moved stealthfully toward it – one painstaking step at a time. What surprised me first was when I reached the top. It was wide open covering an area of about 50 feet by 50 feet.

But what shocked me was what I saw in this opening. I’ll the best I can to describe what I saw. Around the perimeter of this opening where somewhere in the vicinity of 20 deer beds. Their imprints showed clearly in the compressed snow.

There also were several areas where the snow was turned up almost as if someone had gone in there with a rototiller. To help clarify, I have seen many, many times where deer will paw in the snow and turn over the leaves etc., in search of food. This was not that. I have also seen areas where two bucks have squared off sparring in the snow. Again, this wasn’t the same. My only conclusion at the time was I had happened onto a seen where an orgy had taken place.

But the oddest of all things that I had never seen before and haven’t again was the discolorations in the snow. The entire open area was nearly covered with snow that was colored anywhere from bright red, to pinkish, to greenish shades, brown and yellow.

I realized right away that whatever had been dropped into the snow being as saturated as the snow was at that time, would diffuse and enlarge the area that I was seeing. What I didn’t know is what had made what I was seeing.

My only conclusions were that one or more bucks had happened onto a scene where several does had been bedded and were now up and about. In areas where it was plain to see where a deer had urinated in the snow, the snow was discolored sometimes very red, brownish red and it looked mucousy, if that is a word.

Is this part of a normal discharge made by a doe in estrous? Did this occur before or after the mating? How many does did that buck have?

My conclusions may be all wrong. I really don’t know and I am left with more unanswered questions that answered. This all may be normal behaviour and it just so happened on the kind of snow that not only made it visible to me for the first time but also amplified what was happening.

I sure wish I had had my little digital camera at that time that I carry now. My question to my readers is this. Have any of you seen anything like this? If so would you be willing to share it with us? Does anyone have another explanation?

This to me is one of those unusual and/or unexplained things I find in the woods that fascinates me and draws me back in search for more.

Tom Remington