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Wednesday, December 5, 2012

The dust mop and the powder puff

Opening day of the regular deer season was November 17th. I found myself, as usual, at my Father's property. It is only the two of us now. The other regulars have all hung up their guns for the last time. So a day hunting typically plays out like this: We get up early and ride double on Dad's ATV out back. We fist bump and head to our different spots. The Van Niel's are tree stand hunters and there are several to choose from on Dad's 80 acres. We hunt for a few hours on our own and then I usually head over to Dad and join him for a bit longer and then we ride back to camp for lunch. After lunch, it may be a quick snooze before the evening hunt, dinner, and usually grading papers for me.

7 point buck
(Fremont, NY 11/12)
The only variation to the routine this year was checking several camera traps while working my way to Dad's treestand. Results will be the topic of a future post :) By the time I arrived at Dad's stand it was noon. It only took a moment to catch up on the events of the day, since neither of us had seen much. But as so often happens in a hunt, everything changes in an instant. I was still settling in when Dad grabbed my arm and whispered "Buck!". I froze. The ettiquite is simple: His stand, his deer. I ducked out of the way and caught a glimpse of the large bodied deer walking slowly across the field. One shot and it was over. Just like that. Dad has been hunting for over 50 years and still gets a thrill out of each hunt.

We paced the distance as we walked up on his buck. 193 yards. I snapped a few photos of my proud papa and then got down to the messy work. Truth is, I enjoy gutting a deer (or any animal for that matter). Besides being "The Eviscerator" I am also the butcher. But the reward is venison for us and a carcass for the camera trap.

I selected a location in our short hedgerow simply becuase it was close enough to the house to check easily. The carcass has been out for several weeks now and the cast of characters has not changed.

THE DAY SHIFT: The diurnal crew is all-avian. A murder of crows and a single red-tail hawk. I have up to seven crows in one frame but the one below is my favorite.

THE NIGHT SHIFT: The nocturnal crew is decidedly furrier and toothier. I call them the Dust Mop and the Powder Puff.

Dust Mop -- This was the first image of the opossum that I obtained and it was so unglamorous that I had to laugh. The poor opossum has quite the image problem already without me plastering unflattering photos all over the internet.

To be fair, let's have a look at a good hair day:
In fact, opossums can be downright cute if given the right light, a bloody carcass and an open mind:

Opossum on deer carcass
(Seneca Falls, NY 11/12)
Powder Puff -- My other nighttime visitor has more of a dramatic flair. This one knows how to make an entrance. Powder Puff makes the most of her assets and owns this carcass the moment she sets foot on the stage.

An unexpected benefit of the carcass is that Powder Puff is no longer tearing our lawn to shreds in search of grubs. This is clearly the same skunk from a previous post.

For weeks, the day and night shifts never crossed paths. No skunk or opossum photos in the day and obviously no crow or hawk photos at night. But in addition, the night shift and day shift didn't intermingle within their respective tours of duty. Not surprisingly, no photos of hawk and crow appeared and no photos of skunk and opossum were captured. But that changed recently. A few nights ago, numerous photos of Dust Mop and Powder Puff in what I would like to believe is a tentative detante.
Opossum and striped skunk
(Seneca Falls, NY 11/12)


  1. Nice buck! And loving the title of the entry.

  2. Nice job on the back straps!!! you didnt leave much for the critters, the skunk seems upset about it

  3. Also through excellent education I can tell that the possum has been through at least one winter.

  4. I love the "pattern" on that skunk.....the almost all white back is cool looking.


  5. Thanks for sharing, I will bookmark and be back again

    Dust Mops


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