Rutting has been tough on the bucks. Cold winter temperatures are pretty tough too.
The antlers are coming off. This fellow has already shed one.
He’s survived the long deer season well. He’s got a nice big body, and next year, he will be quite nice.
Holy crap, I thought this day would never come.
Remember when I started the Moving Inspiration series, when we were officially starting our house hunting journey, TWO YEARS AGO? Those of you who are regular readers know that every time we seriously began looking, road blocks in our personal lives (heavy stuff like pregnancies, births, illnesses, and sadly, deaths) created pauses. We also admittedly had a very difficult time finding something in the area where we’ve been living (and love) that was in our budget and didn’t need excessive amounts of work we realistically couldn’t commit to doing. Finally, back in October, we put an offer in on short sale home that we loved. And then, a couple of weeks later, the sellers backed out. We were so disappointed. It ended up being a major blessing in disguise though, because at the end of the November, the cutest little house (in our neighborhood!) popped up, and in two days, we were under contract. There were other offers too (it was on the market for less than 48 hours), so we are very, very grateful.
And today, we close on this house. I could cry typing this out. I can’t wait to share the space and our projects with you. It’s a much different style in terms of decor than our style, and we don’t have much of a budget to redo it, but I know that over time, it’s going to be so great.
Most of this series has consisted of posts where I focus on one room at a time (living room, dining room, bedroom, etc.). In the last few posts, I’ve been less specific and just shared general interior images that I love. I’m doing that again today too, in celebration of closing on our new home. Right now everything is about paperwork and packing and giving away money, so it helps to look at these and remember the fun parts of home buying. I can’t wait to share our new space with you all.
I also wanted to let you all know that while the blog will remain active, it will be little quieter than normal over the next week while we get everything moved and attempt to get semi-settled before Robbie takes back off on tour for the band’s busiest period of the year in a few days. I’m sure I’ll be oversharing the process in my Instagram Stories, so come hang out with me over there on days the blog is quiet. By mid month everything will be back to normal. I have so much great content I can’t wait to share with you all. Once again, happy new year!
Reeves’s muntjac is native to China and Taiwan. It is not native any place in Europe, but one of the places where it has been introduced is England. The epicenter of their population in that country is Bedfordshire, where this hunt takes place. The Dukes of Bedford were into promoting deer on their estate, Woburn Abbey, and they were instrumental in saving the Pere David’s deer from extinction. One suggestion is that the muntjac in England derived from Reeves’s muntjac that escaped Woburn Abbey, but they also could have derived from escapees from the Whipsnade Zoo.
Whatever their origin, Reeves’s muntjac have established themselves a long way from their native territory, and they do quite a bit of damage to trees.
And what usually happens is that people are encouraged to hunt the invasives, but as you can see from the selective shooting that goes on this video, the species is now being managed as a sort of game species on many estates. This development should be of no surprise, and it should be noted that island of Great Britain has only two native deer species, the red and the roe. The very common fallow deer was introduced by the Romans and then again the Normans from the European continent.
But the fallow deer is essentially managed as a native game species. The exact same thing is done with Sika deer that have been introduced to Maryland. White-tailed deer are treated the same way in the Czech Republic, as are all the deer that have been introduced to New Zealand.
Whatever their treatment as a game or invasive species, this video does provide a nice closeup of the male Reeves’s muntjac as a specimen. Of particular note are the tusks, which they use for fighting and display. It is mentioned in this clip that they are “musk deer, ” but this is in error.
This error comes from the tusks that both muntjac and musk deer possess, but musk deer are placed in their own family (Moschidae). True deer are Cervidae, and all the muntjac species are true deer that fall into the Cervinae subfamily (which includes red deer, fallow deer, and North American elk). However, they are primitive Cervinae.
Musk deer differ in some morphological characters from true deer in that they don’t have facial glands, possess only a single pair of teats, and have a gallbladder. They also never have antlers, and all species possess a scent gland on their tail.
The common ancestor of musk and true deer, though, had prominent tusks. The modern muntjac species is unique in that it still has those fangs of the earliest Cervinae.
The other true deer that is known for its tusks is the Asian water deer, which was definitely introduced to Britain thanks to escapees from Woburn Abbey. But it is not closely related to the muntjac at all.
It is also not a musk deer, even though it has much more prominent tusks than the muntjac and never has antlers. Instead, it fits within Capreolinae, the subfamily of deer that includes roe deer, moose, reindeer/caribou, and all the New World deer but the wapiti. Its prominent tusks and lack of antlers are a also primitive trait in this lineage of deer.
That muntjac and water deer are both fanged shows that more primitive animals will resemble each other more the derived forms of their respective lineages.
These cnine teeth are celebrated in North America elk lore. Their “ivory” is taken as almost as much a trophy as the antlers, and indigenous people in Canada and the US used them as jewelry. They aren’t sharp daggers like those found on muntjac and water deer, though. They are just vestigial teeth that show that the ancestor of the great bugling bull were once little fanged creatures.
Beyond these little fangs, North American deer lack these primitive traits, so I find fangs on these Asian species totally fascinating.
They are windows into the past, when deer were just little beasts of the undergrowth.
Helpful infographic from Native America Humane Society. A simple rule: if you’re cold, they’re cold. Bring them inside! Until next time, Good day, and good dog!
The stream runs in a soft trickle over the sandstone. It doesn’t babble like any old New England brook. This is an Appalachian creek, best pronounced “crick” for the little crickety sound that it makes as it journeys down the hollow.
The minnows and crayfish dart among the stones. No bass or crappie or walleye or sauger can make its way this far up in the hills. The shallow water is a refuge from the predatory fish, and thus the little fish and “crawlcrabs” are safe from those predatory lips.
But when night falls in the hollow, the shallow water’s security features become a pretty bad liability.
In the veil of darkness, the old boar ‘coon that dens in the old white oak that has grown thick and strong on a little rise on the creek bank is leaves his day rest and saunters down to the water.
He has done this maneuver many times, and he knows which holes hold the most minnows and crayfish. So he doesn’t go splashing the water like a maniac. He goes deliberately, wetting his feet only when he knows he is likely to put his hand-like paws into the water and catch a little midnight snack.
He finds his first hole and wades into the trickle of water. He reaches his forepaws into the creek, feeling and feeling with his fingers for the quarry.
Five minutes of feeling around and a big crayfish falls into his hands. The raccoon savors his nice little meal and then thrusts his paws back into the water. He catches a minnow. He devours it.
The old boar comes to hand fish in the creek every night, except for those days of frigid winter, when the ice clogs up the creek and all wise raccoons stay up in their tree dens.
In late winter, the scent of estrus from the sow raccoons draws him to wander and occasionally wage war on the other boars that come calling, and in the autumn, he mixes up his seafood dinners with a few corn patch raids and sorties through the oak lots for acorns.
And in summer, when the wild raspberries grow black on the thorn bushes, he goes slinking along the berry patches, filling his jaws with a little sweet fruit of the land.
But he is a crick coon by trade. He knows the crayfish and the minnows, and when the rains fill the creek bed and allow the odd sucker or redhorse to come swimming up his way, he tries his hand at catching a few of those, too.
Maybe he’ll get caught raiding a corn patch someday. Or maybe the baying hounds will tree him. Or maybe an upstart young boar will fill the creek bank with enough upper cuts and growling churrs to topple the old man.
But for now, the old boar will hold his own along the trickling crick. The snow will fall, and the summer heat will swelter.
But his night will be spent on the quest for minnows and crayfish. His kind is named Procyon, perhaps for the star that shines brightly above him on those clear nights when the barred owl’s calls are clear and piercing and the moon casts silver beams upon the skeleton trees.
He never looks up though. The stars and their courses mean little to a beast that goes nose down sniffing the creek banks. Feeling hands and quivering nose are how he makes his way in the world.
And he does it well.