|The round, toenail-absent print of a bobcat|
|A catnap in the sun?|
|A good location to scout for dinner|
Farther up near the top of the hill, overlooking a ledge I call "porcupine ridge", the presence of its namesake resident was clearly evident.
|Procupine tracks leading away from the ledge|
|Recent tracks follow a previously plowed road|
|Looking back up Porcupine Ridge shows their preferred habitat of rocky ledges|
|Tracks and debris around the current food source|
|A gnarled, nearly dead tree with one lone branch they left behind|
The highlight of my trip though was a set of coyote tracks which led me to this scene.
It was not evident to me what had happened here. The fur had the color of a gray a squirrel, but there was far too much fur for that explanation, and the hair was too long.
|Gray fur with some golden tips|
Could it be from a gray fox? The lack of any bones, skin, and almost no blood further added to the mystery.
|Just the slightest hint of blood at the scene|
After consulting with a good friend with much wilderness knowledge (thanks JK) we considered and ruled as unlikely a kill by a large raptor (including an eagle) that might have eaten everything but the fur.
So, the call went out to the New Hampshire Fish and Game Conservation Officers for some expert opinion (has anyone been watching North Woods Law: NH on Animal Planet?). The answer from Fish and Game Wildlife Biologist Patrick Tate came quickly: It is from a deer that was killed many days, probably weeks ago, and all that's left after being dined on by many animals is the fur. He noted that the very cold weather did cause some deer mortality, and that coyotes and even bobcats can kill a deer. Where the rest of the carcass is remains unknown. Experience has shown that animals will drag away portions of a deer to eat in safety, and perhaps more of the animal is buried under the snow. A deer killed on Lake Wicwas in 2012 disappeared slowly over the course of several weeks.
|Sad as it may be, this deer fed the neighborhood - from coyotes to eagles - for weeks|
|Spine with most of the skull still attached|
Who knows what we'll find this spring when the snow melts.
Elsewhere in the area, the sled dog races were postponed until March 2-4 due to poor trail conditions, but the ice racing was held on Meredith Bay for the first time in many years as part of Meredith's 250th Anniversary celebration. Perhaps you were able to catch some of the action - it was great fun!
The days are noticeably longer now, and the sun is growing stronger. It's a great time to get out and enjoy the beauty that is New Hampshire in winter.