A beautiful spring day and I am finally free for some wilderness time.
I have a goal in mind, but on the way there some ravens alert me to a deer carcass.
I stop beside the road and check it out. It is so fresh the blood smell is strong and I get to see inside the animal where the stomach cavity is ripped open. So that’s what multiple stomachs look like. Humm this deer had been feeding all night, as both its stomachs are full but unbroken by whatever is now eating it. I look along the road to see if I can tell how it died. I think that probably an early morning car hit it but find no marks that would support that theory. I return to the deer and look it over more carefully. The head is intact and the eyes are closed and peaceful looking. The legs are untouched and without turning it over (yuk) I can’t see the back. On the deer’s right side there is an area chewed out in a rough squared shape by teeth that look pretty efficient. By this time I am a little grossed out and decide to head on to my destination.
A few hours later on the way home I decide to look at the deer kill again. I slow as I approach the spot and then stop the car. As I get out I can tell the carcass is gone. First I think the road department picked it up and then I realize that no road department here would do that. Ha Ha, they have all they can do just keeping the roads clear of downed trees. I look carefully where the carcass had been laying and notice the tracks. Two round tracks are pressed lightly in the forest duff, along with oblong shapes attached.
No doubt in my mind as I picture the cougar on its haunches reaching into the ditch to grab the carcass by the shoulder and drag it away. I look carefully at the ground then. The snow has just melted here and the plants have not recovered so tracking isn’t easy. Still, I find pushed down dried stalks left over from fall that give me a direction to follow. There is a slight color change in the old damp brown leaves that I also notice and my eyes sweep down the path till it stops near a broken limb of a fir tree. I carefully lift the branch and find a blood spot where the cougar rested the carcass and maybe took a few bites. The path of light sign then continues into the woods. I follow carefully and find the carcass again. This time it is completely stripped of any easy meat.
I decide to find an observation spot and sit for a while with my camera and see if I can get a picture of this cat. Nearby there is a jeep track that cuts near the carcass. I walk up there and find a spot where I can see, but I am still sort of out of the way. It is a beautiful day and I have taken a nice bike ride earlier. The birds are quiet and I feel anticipation. Soon I heard the swoosh sound of wings as a raven flies the carcass. After it goes there is nothing, just a gentle breeze ruffling my hair. I dose off.
When I wake I realize that sleeping on the job while you are waiting for a cougar to finish its dinner is not a good idea. Time to leave. I am sure the full cougar probably had more patience than I did anyway.
Causes Linda Hunter Supports