November 21 – Doe down

Thursday in the Invertebrate Zoology lab we took a good look at our echinoderms.  You can see a lot of a sea urchin through the aquarium glass with a magnifier.  I took a chance and moved a piece of coral to find that one of our brittle stars is still alive.  It’s even regenerating its broken arms. I pulled out a sea cucumber too.  We took long looks at them under the dissecting microscope.

This ugly bug was still alive.  I tried some different lighting techniques to increase depth of field–ring flash this time.

Friday morning I went deer hunting at the Stookey’s.  It’s so close, I didn’t even have to get up early.  On the way there, I saw three deer by the side of the road.  Should have hit one and tagged it.  It was 16 F when I left the house, but the air was so still that I didn’t get very cold.   I sat in the spot where I had cut some wood, which made a partial blind. I had my old teepee blind to cover me from the other angles.  Nothing appeared, except chickadees landing near my head.  I walked down by the pond and saw a deer running.  At first I thought it was going to cross and give me a shot, but it turned out to be running AWAY.  I went home, showered and drove to Quincy.

I had to go observe two different student teachers.  Emily had been my advisee for 4 years (and has appeared here before), while the other I had never met.  When I went to see Emily, I had a big biology book to give her.  But what she really enjoyed was the leopard gecko I delivered.  She had wanted one for about a year.  I had gotten it from another student earlier in the week who just wanted to get rid of it.


Cute and friendly.  These do make good pets.

I went to the Junior High to see the other student, and had just enough time to get lunch–at the student cafeteria!  Well, it was cheap anyway.  Afterward I had a meeting on Main Campus that ate the rest of the afternoon.  On the way home from work I took the La Grange exit, as I wanted to photograph anold barn at sunset.  I have wanted to do so for over a year, and finally hit the timing right.  I’d missed it by 10 minutes the night before.


The sun was still up when these flocks of geese were flying by.  It created one of those moments you see in a Terry Redlin painting.


This is the image I wanted to get, the sun shining through the missing boards, revealing the barn’s age and condition.


After the sunset there were some nice colors in the clouds.

Saturday morning I went out to hunt at Lowell’s.  I had the choice stand.  It was still quite dark when a deer came walking down the fenceline toward me.  I couldn’t tell what it was, and it angled off into the woods.  I had a golden-crowned kinglet in a nearby tree, but it left before I could get my camera ready.  A couple of turkeys passed by at a distance, but that was about it for wildlife.  It was a warmer day, but when the wind picked up it became pretty tough.  I read the rest of Dracula, the original by Bram Stoker.  Classic.  I was about to come down at 10, but the sun came out and warmed me up some.  I stayed another half hour before giving up.
Saturday afternoon I went to hunt at the Stookey’s again.  I hung a stand in a big pine tree on a corner of the pond, commanding a good view of a cut along the powerline and the field behind the house.  I worked up a sweat in the process.  I saw nothing but squirrels, though I heard shots all around the neighborhood.

Sunday morning I was too tired to get up and hunt.  I slept in then took my time reading the paper.  I hauled some firewood from the neighbor’s trimmed trees. 
I loaded the bird feeders and set up my camera with the bazooka lens on a tripod.  The sun was shining in the back yard, yielding more favorable results than in past attempts.  It was mostly the usual suspects.

They’re only house sparrows, but the male has great colors, and the female was so close the feather detail is impressive.


Black-capped chickadee with sunflower seeds.


Pine siskin–the only unusual species this day.

Goldfinch female, looking curious.


White-breasted nuthatch showing some tongue.

Stacey and I went grocery shopping in the early afternoon.  I went out to the Stookey’s place to hunt in the late afternoon.  There was a family of potential buyers there when I arrived.  I couldn’t help them much, and they left.  I put in two more foot pegs and a ratchet strap to stabilize the stand more.  It was fairly warm, with a high of 50.  There was nothing but gray squirrels for the first half hour.  I saw a deer run uphill through the woods not far off.  A short time later a doe came following, but she was walking.  She stopped in an opening and I fired.  She didn’t moved so I shot again.  No result.  I had been trying for a clean neck shot.  I thought maybe I was missing high because she was close, so I aimed lower and farther back before my next shot.  She wheeled, ran around a bit and fell down.  I climbed down from the stand and walked over.  She was still among the living, so I administered the neck shot.  I went back to the stand, got my pack and returned to the deer.  I put on latex gloves, but they fell apart.  Too old!  I gutted her anyway, walked back to the car, and pulled over a yard cart from the Stookey house.  I dragged the deer out of the woods, and loaded her into the cart.  Lowell sure has me spoiled.  I usually call him to come out with the ATV and pick up the deer.  I had to pull the cart out by hand.  Now I know why people have heart attacks doing this.  I left it by the side of the driveway and went back to the car.  I pulled the car up, unrolled some sheet plastic and lifted the carcass into the trunk.  Yup, I hauled a dead deer in the Lil Egg!  Once home, I pulled it out of the trunk.  Savannah and Stacey helped me hang it from the basketball goal.  I hosed it out and rinsed the blood off of the driveway.  After that I had to shovel the ashes out of the furnace and reload it.  After dinner I crashed, exhausted.


This is really redneck, but I’ve done it before.  There’s basically nowhere else to hang a deer at our house.   I still have the nifty stainless steel gambrel my brother Mark made for me. 

If you want to see some awesome photos and have a LOT of time on your hands, go here:
http://www.stlcameraclub.com/mvs/mvs web/sect_1.htm
This is an open competition, with everything from animals to landscapes to portraits.  Note: there are some tasteful nudes included.  That will be a warning to some, an incentive to others.

Monday was a short day at w
ork, as I had no afternoon lab.  I noticed, however, that my saltwater tank had lost significant volume.  It must have developed a leak, as there was dried salt and scum on the floor.  Good thing it didn’t drain completely.  I went to the grocery store to get ingredients for jerky marinade.  While I was there, a lady hit a pickle jar with her cart and it broke on the floor.  I so wanted to announce, “Wet cleanup, aisle two.”  I was really anxious to get home and skin the deer, but could not find the knife I wanted to use.  I thought it was in a little red bag of things that get used only upon success.  I went back to the woods to look for it.  I found the knife I had used to gut the deer (not the same), and the red bag.  But the skinning knife was not in the bag.  I realized it was at home in my backpack.  The skinning went quickly.  The game warden, who lives two houses away, came home.  I thought for sure he’d come over and check out the deer.  He took out the state boat instead.  I had the doe completely naked by the time Savannah got home from school.  I still had plenty of light so I started boning it out.  I set up a rickety card table in the garage and filleted out the meat.  One of my friends stopped by with her two nephews in tow.  They wanted to see the dead deer.  I was nearly done, but I showed them a leg and a kneecap.  One of the boys asked where the brain was.  I said it was in the head at the bottom of the trash can.  “Can I see it?”  I said that’s a pretty serious dissection that I was not prepared to do at the time.  As they were leaving, one of them asked if he could have the foot.  “I want to nail it to my wall.”  I said it would smell pretty bad before too long.  Filleting is  kinda hard on the back, but I finished around the time Stacey got home from work.  I found one of my bullets while skinning.  That’s a first.  I got one batch of meat marinating for jerky. 
Stacey’s Mom and brother Jarrod came to visit.  We’re going to have a family Thanksgiving.

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