January 27, 2015 by almostakiss
As I alluded to in my Ringing In The New Year post, we had some unexpected excitement and fun on our vacation. On Wed. Dec. 30th (2 days before we left), Greg was walking the dogs behind Hollywood Casino in Tunica. He was crossing over the levy and found quite an attractive deer ass. Not attached to a deer! Just the tail and skin/fur surrounding the rear portion. He came back to tell me about it and it just sounded too strange (code word for interesting for me) that I had to go see it for myself. So we walked back over there with the dogs and I saw it. It was like the rump of the deer had been scalped. I was wondering where the rest of the deer was. The remaining deer body couldn’t have been eaten bones and all, could it?!
We were on the edge of the woods and I saw something a few feet away so I walked over. Sure enough, there was the head of the deer with a nice rack (antlers). It was completely intact, only a bit of the nose had been picked at. It was a substantial specimen with the bloody spine still attached. It was minus all meat and picked cleaner than baby back ribs at a cookout. Once again, I wondered where the rest of the deer was. It couldn’t have all gotten “et” (southern for eaten). A few feet beyond that were 2 of the hooves and parts of those 2 legs. Later we found the stomach (full of waste) on top of the levy a little further down. That was all that remained from such a huge, prideful and gentle creature.
We always see deer when we’re down at this RV park. They venture out of the woods at dusk and later. There’s a whole community of them since we’ve seen up to 9 of them at a time. There had been one large one that had come very close to our campsite, into a different field and had been showing up there every night around midnight. Greg had seen it when he’d take the dogs out at night. This one would show up alone and didn’t seem to be as afraid as the others. It would let them get within 50 feet and not run away. We have a great respect and love for these majestic creatures. To find one dismembered gave us pause.
So many things went through my mind. Naturally, the first thing I thought of was: this is what happens in a horror movie! 😉 People stumble upon dismembered animals and then are the next to be torn to shreds by some unknown creature in the woods. Ha ha. It was amusing to entertain the thought until it started getting dark. 😉 Hubby’s first thought was: Treasure Hunting: Mississippi Edition. Some people can hunt (with a gun) for years and never bag this kind of trophy! Also what better thing to just come across at random that people pay lots of money for–a deer head mount. We already have 2 antelopes we got at an estate sale hanging in our upstairs hallway on either side of a huge sailfish. We can totally appreciate the beauty in God’s creatures and are all about recycling and repurposing things. Also cleaning up the environment.
My hubby doesn’t believe in fate but there are times that I do. This was one of them. It just seemed meant to be. Or at least that’s how I fantasized it up in my mind. After looking at it, I took a bunch of pictures and we went back to the RV. We had to talk about it and see how to proceed. Greg is always worried about getting in trouble. Probably because in the state we live in (Illinois), you can’t do anything without a license or permit. So hubby was on his way to the police station to ask them if it would be ok if we just took the head. He ran into a sheriff in the parking lot and asked him. He said he saw nothing wrong with it but gave him the phone number for the DNR (Dept. of Natural Resources). He called and that guy said he thought it was ok but to call the game warden. So Greg called the game warden and he was fine with it. So we gathered a few tools (hammer and pocketknife) and a couple of black garbage bags and went back.
As we were returning to the scene, we saw a huge bird of prey flying away. Maybe that’s who had been eating on the nose. We knew we had to work fast since it would be dark in less than an hour. I held the dogs and tried to videotape Greg at the same time. This was my first time using my new iphone 6+ so it was shaky plus I kept getting distracted by the dogs. Greg used both the hammer and knife to try to separate the skull from the spine. It didn’t happen easily. Finally he started twisting the head and kept turning it until it snapped. This is how serial killers start. Then we took pictures of each of us holding up the head. Yes, we’re barbarians. He put the head in one of the bags. Then I was trying to convince hubby to get the legs for a table. He tried for a minute and said it was too hard. I don’t think his heart was in it. He did humor me when I said I wanted the deer ass though. That tail is so cute and if we could figure out how to taxidermy it, it would be adorable hanging on the wall. I’m not as sick as I sound, I promise.
I don’t know too many wives that would get this excited about finding a dead animal. The best things in life are free. Hubby and I were both almost giddy. We were making jokes as we walked back with our pirate’s booty. insert reference to the tv show Dexter about a serial killer who would’ve loved this.
After getting back to the RV, I set about researching how to clean the skull. Apparently there are several methods. Some include chemicals, others involve bugs that eat away the flesh (shudder) and others call for boiling the skull and scrubbing it away with a steel brush. EW! Not what I expected. On tv they always show rednecks doing taxidermy. How hard can it be?! Well, if you’ve never done it before…VERY HARD. It’s out of our skillset. But we’re not giving up. We are going to give it a try in Spring. (Spring is the mythical timeframe before Someday.) It will take us that long to gear ourselves up to do it.
In the meantime, what’s the status of our find? It is frozen and sitting under snow on the side of our house. This is a fenced in area, not accessible to the dogs. We have nothing in there now at all. It never gets any sunlight and is always wet. Almost an unholy place. I’ve been trying to talk hubby into putting down some large patio blocks since it’s too muddy for grass or a garden. We’ve tried both with no luck. Once the patio block is in, I want to use it for storage.
Worst case scenario? We screw it up and have to throw out the free deer. Best case scenario? We have some radically cool souvenir from our trip. I think it’s a risk worth taking. I will have to document the rest of the adventure in pictures. 🙂