Thursday, February 05, 2009

Oh, Deer

The weather has been quite nice during the day and even seems to have moderated at night. I know that the night before last it was 30 below but we have had a string of nights above zero. That doesn’t sound like much to those of you who live south of us but it is big here. Of course, all these temperatures have nothing to do with wind chill. Beyond saying that the wind is cold, we don’t even worry about wind chill.

It seems like the animals have been busier in these relatively warm temperatures. One of the joys of living on the Trail in the winter is hearing and seeing all the inaction that we have with animals. Some of it is a little scary or sad.

Shadow, one of the dogs at Gunflint Pines, had a scary encounter last week. She was out and about inspecting the property when a wolf appeared. We call this wolf the “mangy wolf” because his hide is so mangy and he looks sick. At any rate the wolf started chasing Shadow. After one run around the main building at the Pines, the wolf was catching up to the dog. Shadow’s last inspiration was to run into the open porch attached to the Pines lodge. Meanwhile, Bob and Sharon up on the hill had noticed the race. They were getting in their car just as Shadow went in the porch. Sharon yelled and the wolf looked up at them. Then Bob and Sharon quickly drove down to the lodge. As they stopped for the side road, the wolf ran past them to the east. Shadow was still hiding in the porch and quickly went in when Bob opened the door.

There was also a sad encounter at the Pines. One morning Bob groomed the short ski trail that goes through the campground. Later that morning he was out on this ski trail. Between the time he groomed and the time he walked out (before noon), the wolves had killed a deer right in the middle of the ski trail. Now I must admit that I don’t get overly sentimental about kills like this. After all, the wolves have to live too. Usually, we do not expect a wolf kill to happen so close to occupied buildings and in the middle of the day.

Most of our encounters lately have been of the happy kind. On Saturday Susie, one of our favorite waitresses at Trail Center, snowmobiled up for lunch with a group. She could not get over all the deer in our yard. She went into the lodge and brought out several large handfuls of corn which the deer promptly ate right out of her hands. In fact, one deer was so close to Susie’s face that when the deer raised his head, he gave her a “kiss.” Since I don't have a picture of Susie getting her kiss, this picture is of Steve being a little more careful feeding the deer.

Here is one of a deer eating right outside the door to the main lodge.

It is really unusually to go down to the lodge and not see deer everywhere you look. They give every person going in or out a mournful look until you just have to feed them.

The other morning Sheryl came down early to open the lodge. Here is the scene she captured with her camera. Well, you were going to get a short video from Sheryl but for some reason it doesn't want to upload. Being the super IT person that I am, you will not get to see the video.

The first person to the lodge each morning doesn’t just encounter deer. The other day Gimpy (our fox with one paw gone) was curled up in a ball in front of the door. Just like the rest of us, Dave went in and found a scrap of meat for Gimpy. Gimpy and his girl friend have taken up residence underneath Justine’s north wing. By May we should have another batch of kits. We will keep feeding both fox so the kits are healthy.

We have so many deer around that I could go on and on about the stories. The best idea, however, is to come up and see for yourself.