May 4 2009
I don’t remember exactly when I first spied the stuffed foxes poised in Liz and John’s living room but I think it was after their house was renovated. (It’s a 19th century Victorian clapboard, perfectly appointed in hunt-country decor… which is flat-out irritating!).
Anyway, there were these two cute foxes, one sitting and the other caught in mid-stride. They looked like museum pieces.
“Oh yea, they’re road kill,” Liz explained. Her husband John witnessed one freshly struck by a car and he scooped up the carcass in a trash bag, and tied it to the roof. “The other one I just found by the road,” she said. “So I stuck him in the fridge and we took him to the taxadermy place in town.”
It sounded so easy. Recyleable road kill becomes lovely conversation piece. I immediately wanted one for our bar/carriage house.
“Just don’t try to pick one up in the summer,” Liz warned. “My friend found a good one and put it in the back of her SUV. When she got home she noticed that the carpet in the trunk was moving… because thousands of ticks had jumped ship from the fox. It took her ages and tons of vacuuming to get rid of them.”
Yikes, good advice, I thought as I reserved my carcass hunt for winter months. Most of the dead foxes on the road were pretty mangled. But one day I whizzed past one when Martin happened to be a mile behind in the truck. I grabbed my cell phone.
“Hey, there’s a good-looking dead fox on the road just at the bend. Can you grab it for me?”
martin: “What? You want me to pick up a dead animal? I’m dressed for a meeting… I don’t even have any gloves.”
me: “Come on, just do it. For the good of the bar!”
I stayed on the phone until he found the fox, then he left the phone on the bumper while he scooped it up. Even from a distance I heard the yelling. “Jesus Christ!!”
“What? What’s wrong?” I shouted, waiting for him to pick up. What if the fox was still alive and it jumped up and bit him? There’s no way. It was dead as a door nail…
Then I hear Martin, panting a bit. “I picked it up and turned it over. It’s full of maggots,” he said. “I’m going to meeting and now I’ve got maggots on me.”
“That sucks,” I said. (damn, that thing looked good on the outside…) “Oh well, just leave it then. Thanks!”
Since then I’ve seen a few other candidates. But Martin has not been keen on retrieval.
In the meantime, the Boy and I have been searching for some nice deer remains ever since we eyed up “Fred,” the little skull and antlers that sits in front the neighbor’s barn. Liz (a different Liz), found the skull years ago while trail riding. I’m not so attached to it but Cayden was instantly intrigued.
About a week ago, I rode past deer bones, picked clean, and scattered across a hayfield. I brought the Boy back later, but seeing ribs, a spine, and a furry leg with a hoof still attached was a little too real for him. Instead, we christened these dinosaur bones — likely a deerasaurus or a deerodactyl.
I retrieved the skull, which was picked beetle-clean. For now it sits amongst our weedy whiskey barrels and greets visitors to the barn.