Written By Kris Brown.

Posted on December 29th, 2021.

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I was lucky enough to get a deer during the 2021 early bow season in the Catskills. After processing it in the garage, I had about 40 lbs. of venison, 25 of which would become deer burger.I debated about what to do with the remaining deer carcass. Then I remembered some amazing bald eagle photos that MyWoodlot team member Tom Pavlesich captured by placing roadkill deer in front of his backyard trail camera.  

I was lucky enough to get a deer during the 2021 early bow season in the Catskills. It was also the first time I cut up a deer by myself. After two long nights of deer processing in the garage, I had about 40 lbs. of venison, 25 of which would become deer burger. Did I do a perfect job? Of course not, but I was proud to complete the task and gain a little more experience for next time. 

I debated about what to do with the remaining deer carcass. Then I remembered some amazing bald eagle photos that MyWoodlot team member Tom Pavlesich captured by placing roadkill deer in front of his backyard trail camera. A red-tailed hawk, barred owl, and red fox also took part in the scavenging. 

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Bald eagle

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Barred owl

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Red fox

Okay, I know it’s a little morbid, but the trail camara-carcass method can be a useful way to collect data on animal scavenging. For example, researchers in Minnesota want to better understand what and when scavenger species use deer gut piles provided by hunters. The project is called Offal Wildlife Watching.

I was ready to begin my own backyard research project, so I started by putting the deer hide out on Nov. 7 at 1:30 PM.

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Putting out the hide

Some crows appeared around 2:00 PM. Up to five at a time fed steadily until nightfall. In total, I counted 64 photos of crows.

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Crows feeding

A fox found the deer hide around 7:30 PM, but it left promptly and didn’t return until 4:00 AM on Nov. 8. Then the fox gnawed and dragged the deer hide around until daybreak. I counted 57 photos of the fox during this period.

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Fox gnawing

The rest of Nov. 8 was uneventful, with just a few crows feeding throughout the day. The fox didn’t return again until midnight on Nov. 9. Soon afterwards, the fox was alerted to another scavenger.

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Fox alerted

At 1:49 AM a coyote entered the frame, presumably running off the fox. 

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Coyote makes an appearance

The coyote had control of the hide until about 2:22 AM, when it started looking up in the canopy. It must have seen something it didn’t like, because the coyote snatched the deer hide and disappeared. 

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Something’s in the air

Not long afterwards, the fox returned and sniffed around where the deer hide once was. 

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Fox searches for the hide

What a fascinating interaction between the fox and coyote! It was neat to see the wildlife that literally came out of the woodwork to scavenge the deer hide.

Please note that if you try this at home, only use deer that were harvested with a bow and arrow, as was done in this case, or with lead-free ammunition, to prevent lead poisoning of scavengers.  

The first trial run having been a success, I was excited to put out the remainder of the deer carcass the next day. Stay tuned because I will cover that story next week. Thanks for reading! 


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