…and the Deer is Gone.. almost

   Posted by: BJ Johnson in wildlife

Should've tried again to get some night photography of the Mountain Lions last night. Went out this morning after the Sun was sufficiently high in the sky to check on the progress. Joy carried her Sig-Sauer 239, just in case a startling deterrent might be handy to have in hand. The spot to where the deer was moved two nights ago, between the rock wall and perimeter fence, was vacant! Huh? Where'd they take it? Looking around for a few minutes, I spied it; still inside the rock wall but now on the other side of the big pine between two trees. Probably better shelter from the rain under there.

What was there, however, really surprised us. Nearly nothing. A few ribs, leg, two hooves, jawbone; all pretty darn clean. Impressive. This had been a full-grown Deer. From the amount of matting of ivy surrounding the site, it looked like the parent who made the kill brought the family for some sustenance. The amount consumed, compared to the two days prior, was astonishing. I had figured that the meal would last another two days. Wrong! Not when you have this many mouths to feed.

Did get some photographs of the vultures. 32 inches in length, 6 foot wingspan. There are three in this shot. Click on the image thumbnail and it'll load a larger version.

A couple of seconds after this shutter release, something startled them and they all took wing for a short cruise out over the valley. I wondered if the family might still be guarding their meal, hidden in the surrounding bushes and brush.

I caught this pair just before they went behind some trees as they flew down through the ravine.

These guys'll take care of whatever's left in the coming days, I'm sure. Really fun to watch them maneuver through the trees on an incoming run. Wingspans that large executing sharp banks only ten or so feet off the ground in a slalom path to land near the target. The fox should be along tonight and maybe Peter will venture down there, too.

Still not letting the kittens out, even during the daylight hours and certainly not after dusk—for a long time to come—if ever. "What a buzz-kill, Dad." They're getting used to it, albeit slowly, and noisily at times. No telling how far the Mountain Lion family may have travelled by this time and there's no way to really tell—if they are even gone. Their territory in this part of the country usually covers 25 square miles. We have transmitters on our guys but attaching one to a 180 pound, 8 foot long cat

that can jump horizontally 40 feet, run at 45 MPH and has five inch diameter paws isn't in the realm of remote possibility. Standing fifty feet away and witnessing the confident power as he sat, guarding his family while they ate was sobering, inspiring, exhilarating and an experience I'll not forget.

No eyes in the Maglite beam tonight. I miss them already.

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