Deer Carcass Crime Scene

While venturing out on my morning hike, with Lola, I hit a familiar trail. It’s a great hike, climbs about 450 feet over the course of a mile, and creates the opportunity to drop over the top – for a descent and subsequent climb. The trail is located near the dam of Lake Del Valle, which was created by damming the Arroyo Del Valle.

Also in the area is a children’s camp and The Golf Course at Wente Vineyards. I often spend a few minutes searching for stray golf balls of the ProV1 variety. The golf balls are found along side the golf course fence. I’ve been surprised by the number of deer carcasses I’ve found in the brush. I’ve always assumed they were the work of a local mountain lion.

Today was overcast and rainy. My car was the only vehicle parked in the lot as Lola and I began to hike. Not far into the hike, I spotted a turkey vulture standing upon a hump. Suspecting that the hump was a dead critter of some type, I walked over to the spot for a look. What I found was a deer carcass. I noticed that something was strange about the carcass, but couldn’t quite put it all together.

I continued my hike, thinking about what I had observed. I began to think of it as a crime scene.

The deer carcass was in a heap, with all four legs attached and no meat in place, but the intestines were mostly present.

 What had killed the deer? A mountain lion would have hid the carcass, not leaving it in the open for other animals to eat. Coyotes would have ripped off the legs and carried them to a more private location. Most animals would have devoured the intestines. The intestines were an important clue.

Half way up the mountain, it began to rain hard. Hiking in only a tee-shirt, I’d be pretty cold by the time I returned to the bottom. At the top of the hill, I cut the hike short and headed down. A climb to the top would be good enough for today.

Thinking about the carcass, I remembered I had my iPhone in my pocket. Upon returning to the carcass, I snapped a photo and noticed that the heart and liver were still in the pile. All four legs were skinned to the knees and not an ounce of meat was left on the otherwise in-tact carcass.

You guessed it.

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