Monday, December 28 2020
This evening I heard Neville go run outside barking, something I usually check up on within a minute or so. But when I went to go out the front door, I found him standing there over an articulated deer skeleton (with attached deer hide). It looked like the remains of what happens after coyotes have picked over a deer corpse, likely one killed but not recovered by hunters during the recent hunting season. Since Neville had only been outside for a minute or two, it seemed he must've been dragging this skeleton ever closer to the house over the previous days, with the last leg of the journey being very short. Now, of course, we had a problem. Nobody could come and go from the house through the front door. Anyone getting that close to Neville guarding such a find would immediately be attacked.
So I went out through a sliding door on the south side of the house, got a hoe, and proceeded to rake the skeleton towards me while Neville growled and periodically clamped his pit bull mouth around the hoe's steel blade. Eventually Neville grabbed the skeleton and dragged it under a bush, which was far enough away from the front door that now the cats could come and go. But he was too close to the path from the driveway for anyone to come from the parking area. So when Powerful came home with his brand new Playstation 4 (and several games), I had him climb the stone wall and cut through the garden to avoid Neville.
Meanwhile, a leg had come loose from the skeleton and I gave it to Ramona to chew on inside.
I was nervous after that about Neville's guarding behavior, and I'd check on him every now and then. At some point he returned to the front of the door, but this time when I came out, he ran off with his skeleton and went back under the bush. Later somehow he and Ramona traded places, with Neville managing to get most of the skeleton through the pet door and Ramona going outside with her leg. A big piece of skin got stuck in the pet door, so I took that and threw it up on top of the woodshed. And when Ramona tired of her leg, I put that out in the garage so I could cut it into pieces to be divvied up later.
Later I cut out two pieces of that leg using the bandsaw, giving one piece to Ramona and using the other piece (it was eight inches long and contained a joint) to trade with Neville for the whole skeleton he was guarding on a chair in the living room. That might not sound like a fair trade to you, but Neville was delighted to make it, since the cut end of the bone exposed a big stash of delicious marrow. I then took the skeleton and hung it out of reach in a tree just across the Farm Road. In so doing, I discovered it included a skull, which was hidden inside a tube of neck skin pulled up over it like a turtleneck sweater. It appeared to be a doe's skull, probably abandoned by the hunter for being an illegal kill. The forest is unusually full of such corpses, which gives a sense of the quality of hunters the pandemic has sent our way.
Neville with his deer skeleton in front of the front door this evening.
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