This is Hank, with the deer leg he’s been carrying and hiding on our morning dog walk for the past couple of weeks. I posted it to Twitter, and was slightly shocked by a couple of people who were grossed out.
It’s one of the things about living out here where people hunt (and illegally dump hides and bones) and where there are non-human predators who hunt as well. The woods are littered with bones.
Bones of deer and elk and sometimes cattle who just died out there, or who were killed by something — a bear, a mountain lion, a coyote, a wolf. A couple of years ago, Himself and I were hiking in Yellowstone, up on the Blacktail plateau where the wolves roam and we found a rocky cove, a kind of a gully that the wolves had been using as an abbatoir. Looked like they’d been driving ungulates up in there for years, then killing them when they couldn’t get out. The bone pile was impressive.
Our morning walk isn’t particularly wild. There’s a road with a steep hillside to the west and a swamp to the east. On the far side of the swamp is the highway. It’s a spur of the old road, mostly quiet although with enough traffic that we’ve had to do a remedial course in “do not herd the vehicles”. Upstream from the swampiest part are a couple of fields with a very small herd of cattle.
A few weeks ago, one of the cattle died. It was a weird sight, the cow lying on it’s side, dead. Dead does not look like sleeping, although one sort of hoped, but when we came back twenty minutes later and the cow was still there, still with the raven perched atop, it was pretty clear. Dead cow.
Things die. That was an old cow, or perhaps a bull, it was fairly far away and my eyesight is not so terrific. It was there for a day or two, then the rancher hauled it away, I think just deeper into the woods where the bears and the coyotes and the birds will eat it.
And there’s Hank every morning, my bright and shining new boy, so pleased with his deer leg, bounding up the road eager to see what other treats might be waiting. I like it, that it’s all here mixed up together. Deer leg and new dog. Dead cow and new baby calves. Sandhill cranes singing their weird clacking breeding songs and Canadian geese squawking at us, and redwing blackbirds calling from the cattails below. It’s all the same.