Monday-Looking for Sheds
Because I already visited the available antique stores, my mom and I needed a different activity on Monday. Her BF lives out in the country and has access to several acres of wooded land so she proposed going out to tromp through the woods to look for sheds.
I felt like a dog when the owner says, “Let’s go for a walk.” So excited! Spring and fall make want to be in the woods, but no one in my immediate circle of geographically convenient friends share those urges. Spring and fall means that they will spend most available daylight hours parked in front of a t.v. watching either basketball or football.
We met up with the BF at his house, donned layers of fluorescent orange gear, and headed out. The BF must have thought that we were on a major mission because he immediately proposed that “you girls” take the ridge by the pond while he went down by the creek as if we were working some type of flanking maneuver. I personally think that after the selfie, he was second guessing whether or not he wanted to be in the woods with us. Logically though, we would cover more ground in the search for sheds.
Starting in January, deer shed their antlers. Their testosterone drops since mating season is over; no need to have antlers to fight other males. They start rubbing their antlers against trees until the antlers fall/break off. Other forest creatures view the sheds as tasty bone flavored treats. New antlers start growing in the spring. The velvet on new antlers is actually tissue and blood vessels covering the growing bones. Rinse, repeat every year. So fucking weird.
I guess about as weird as us wandering around in the woods looking for them.
Mom and I took our assigned route and quickly started following a worn deer trail with deep hoof prints in the red mud. It makes sense to follow the web of deer trails because an antler could drop anywhere along the way. We came across several rubs where deer had worn the bark off of trees. We also dead ended in a deer bed. Grasses had been matted down in several spots inside a thicket and the ground was covered in deer hair.
We occasionally reconvened with the BF, got our new marching orders, and parted ways again. We were on the neighbor’s land. The BF said that in addition to three deer stands and a deer crop circle, the neighbor probably has game cameras all over the place so he’ll be able to review our activities. He might get a little something special on one of his cameras because I peed in the woods. My trail now.
At one point, Mom and I were down in the hollow while the BF was up on the ridge. We were making our way up to him like graceful mountain goats, when he waved and held up a skull. Jackpot!
When we finally made it there to inspect his find, the shapes, sizes, and right-between-the-eyes bullet holes made it clear that these were not deer skulls. The BF said that the neighbors must have butchered pigs. These were pig remains.
Meanwhile, Mom and I were poking around, turning things over, and taking pictures. Mom had uncovered two long bones with sockets and was oohing and ahhhing over their weight and “artistic curves.” The BF was silently aghast.
Mom to BF: “Hey, do you have a bag in your jacket so we can carry these back?!”
BF: “WHY would you want those?”
Me: “Why do we want random deer antlers?”
He mumbled something about possibly coming back later to get things then wandered away.
We continued to rummage through the leaves, and inspect the skulls. The smaller skull clearly had a snout shape and tusk-like teeth on the sides that the BF had pointed out when qualifying both skulls as pigs. However the other skull was over twice the size of the smaller skull, and did not have any tusk protrusions. Instead, it had a row of huge square teeth up front.
Me to Mom who was still waving around her “artistic” bones: “I don’t think these are both pigs. Look at the shapes of the teeth.”
Mom: “It’s too big for a deer and shaped wrong for a cow.”
Me (whispered): “I think it’s a horse.”
Mom: “Oh, the neighbors have pigs AND horses. Why didn’t he tell us that was a horse?”
Me: “That’s why he walked away.”
Mom, looking at “artistic” bones: “I don’t think I want to carry horse bones.”
The BF claimed ignorance of being able to identify horse skulls, but acknowledged that the neighbors had only pigs and horses on their property. We never found any sheds. I found a tiny set of jawbones that could belong to any number of rodenty type things with fangs. The BF gave me a turtle shell he found which I will interpret as an apology for his identification “mistake.” We saw bluebirds and walked back across the field to the house accompanied by the neighbor’s hound dog.
Would I decorate my house or garden with either the pig or horse skull? Absolutely!
The question becomes why they would have been perfectly acceptable without question if they were deer skulls, why they were sort of okay when we thought they were both pig skulls, and why they became less acceptable when one turned out to be a horse skull.
p.s. I was blissfully tromping through winter-free woods, then traveled two hours north when this happened: