As the deer hunting seasons wrap up throughout much of the country, some interesting little anecdotes are surfacing as hunters review their days in the deer woods.

V. Paul Reynolds, Outdoors Columnist

In Illinois, a hunter bagged a perfectly healthy whitetail buck that looked like it had been wallowing about in a vernal pool spiked with Nair. Seriously, the deer was actually without body hair. Biologists said it was otherwise healthy and safe to consume. (I saw photos). Luckily, the hairless critter wasn’t about to hunker down in a wind-swept Maine deer yard in Big Reed Bog.

Meantime, in Wisconsin, a hunter reportedly bagged a deer that was keeping company with an emu, which is an Australian ostrich. No kidding. The hunter, Asher Torbeck, got photos for evidence. So far, no explanation from biologists or ornithologists as to the bird’s dislocation.

In Texas, a three-eyed deer was registered at the tagging station. Yes, there are photos.

Mike Lewis, a Missouri deer hunter, bagged a buck that was carrying a skull and antlers from another buck entangled in its antlers. Yes, a story behind the story. Obviously, an encounter of the worst kind, especially for the buck that lost the battle. You have to wonder if the victorious buck waited patiently for predators to dine on the conquered buck and thus lighten the load.

In Pennsylvania, an 8-year-old hunter, Ben Pruitt, shot a so-called “cactus buck.” Very rare. This is a buck that is in velvet 24/7. This condition has a scientific name: cryptorchidism.

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The best story comes from Vermont. Deer hunter David Minton, of Warner, found himself irrevocably befriended by a seemingly domesticated wild ruffed grouse. He sent me videos, which documented astonishing non-typical behavior by this game bird, known to be the most elusive and skittish of any wild American bird.

The whole affair started when a grouse suddenly perched on a hemlock branch inches from Minton in his tree stand.

Minton’s own words:

So I did what any normal hunter would do… I talked to him. This went on for an hour and a half. Often he just sat on the same branch for 15 minutes. Finally, I climbed down from the stand and walked to a stump to sit. He followed me and proceeded to hop up onto the stump and sat 6 inches from me. He was emitting a sound, a cross between a “cooing” and what I can only describe as a quiet whining.

After some more time, as it was getting dark, I walked up the tote road to my house and he followed me the entire way. I’d walk 20 feet, turn and pat my leg and say,” Come on, Buddy,” and he’d run the 20 feet to catch up to me. We did this for 600 feet till I got to my barn.

All of this took place over six days, every day, in the morning and late afternoon and continues as I write this. If I get out of the stand and go to sit on a stump, he follows me and sits with me on the stump or at my feet. If I take a short walk to the lower field, he trots along behind me until I sit and then he comes on up next to me.

Needless to say, I am not getting any deer hunting done when I go down to my stand. But that’s okay, as I took an elk out in Colorado this past October, so the freezer is full. And I can’t explain it, but I have taken a liking to just chillin’ with this little fella, watching a few does a hundred feet away milling around and just enjoying our time together. He gives me that look as if to say, “Well, what’s on the agenda today?”

So we sit and I talk to him…and my wife thinks I’m going nuts.

— V. Paul Reynolds is editor of the Northwoods Sporting Journal, an author, a Maine guide and host of a weekly radio program, “Maine Outdoors,” heard at 7 p.m. Sundays on The Voice of Maine News-Talk Network. Contact him at [email protected]


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