By Paul F. Thibodeau
Outside In
Dale Graham, who lives in Orrington, is an avid outdoorsman, a duck hunter, a fisherman, and has owned Labrador retrievers nearly all his life. Last week the manager of Penobscot Eye Care told me an entertaining story. “I’ve had my old dog, Storm, for more than 10 years, and I thought it was about time to get a young dog to train. I’ve been training the young pup, Thunder, for several months, and he seemed to be quite obedient. On Friday Thunder was in the back seat of my club-cab pickup when I stopped at a grocery store for a minute. I looked down and noticed my new Kodak digital, 8 mega pixel camera was on the seat, and thought about putting it in the storage box between the seats, but I was in a rush to shop and get home. When I returned and opened the pickup door the pup was looking up at me from the front seat with his big brown eyes, and my $500 camera was all chewed to pieces! I could have killed that dog! That darn dog had never chewed as much as an old shoe, but decided to eat my new camera. I had an extra memory card because I was going to the Red Sox and Yankee game the next day. I had to borrow a small digital camera from a buddy so that I could take pictures at the game on Saturday.”     

I wonder if Dale was able to check out the camera’s memory card and see if Thunder had managed to take any self-incriminating pictures! My guess is Thunder will have to retrieve a lot of ducks to make up for ruining that camera.       

This past winter Carol and Phil Andrews had been feeding whitetail deer behind their home on Evergreen Drive in town. The Lincoln lady told me they had as many as half-a-dozen deer coming to her feed just forty feet from the Andrews’ kitchen window.

“One large deer was the dominant buck in the herd.  I could tell because when he came in to feed, he’d drive all the other deer away. That buck would lift its back leg and kick at any of the other deer that were in the yard. I managed to get a photo of him before we stopped feeding those deer as soon as the snow melted. I could see that deer was a buck because I could see the bumps on its head where its horns would be later this spring.”     

On checking out the Internet I came across the following information. ‘Antler growth usually begins in the month of April or May. The antlers begin as a special kind of cartilige that turns into bone as the antlers grow. They grow from the base of a permanent pedicle and are covered by a special kind of skin called velvet. The antlers grow very quickly and are nourished by arteries inside the antlers and outside by the velvet. By August the antlers have reached their maximum growth for the year. Their size and form reflect the age and condition of the buck and the nutrition condition of the habitat. The cartilage has now become strong hard bone and arteries inside the antlers and the velvet slowly dies. By September the buck rubs off the remaining dead velvet on trees and shrubs, and the antlers are now polished and ready. Antlers are deciduous and grow at the tips like trees. They even look like trees. In October after the velvet is shed, bucks will use their antlers on trees and each other to polish their skills for the breeding season to come.’     

Sometimes wildlife from the outdoors take up residence indoors. When that occurs, it usually can be problematic.   When doing some yard work the other evening, my neighbor Dick Slike and I struck up a conversation in which he mentioned that he has had more than one ‘run-in’ with flying squirrels getting into his home.

“One time my wife Katie and daughter Codi were upstairs in Codi’s room using the computer. All of a sudden I heard high-pitched screaming coming from the women in the bedroom. When I got up there Katie was on the outside holding the door shut, but Codi was still inside yelling,  “Let me out of here!”  As I entered the room a large flying squirrel was perched on top of the computer’s monitor. Quickly I grabbed the nearest ‘weapon’ and charged!  I gave the rodent my best swipe with the lint brush and knocked it across the room.   However the squirrel just landed on the curtains and turned on me!  The big dark-eyed squirrel spread its arms, glided right onto my left shoulder, and started scratching and trying to bite me!” Dick stated nonchalantly as he entertained my wife and I that evening on MacKenzie Avenue.

“It finally went up into our attic where I chased it around until it disappeared. We had several other encounters with the nocturnal animals until I put a plastic owl in the attic, and they haven’t been back since.”
In an attempt to get as much yardwork done before the onset of blackflies and mosquitoes, we labored until dusk, and as we headed for our house we heard for the first time this spring the sound of ‘peepers’.