A Side Note – Don’t Go Shooting Your Quills At Me

While out for my walk earlier today I had a hard time ridding my brain of the weekly tweets of @brontecreekpp regarding finding shed White Tailed Deer antlers.  My eyes were peeled and while I was reminiscing at the location of my brothers’ old fort I noticed an area of bare bark…(GASP…Oh excuse me for looking!) on one of the large trees nearby.

Bare Naked Bark

My initial reaction was deer rubs left behind prior to and/or during the annual rut (or fall mating season of our local White Tails).

Deer Rubbing


Deer Rub Scar

I was feeling pretty impressed by my nature knowledge and interesting find even though it wasn’t the highly sought after deer antler.  Well that was until I looked up…

More 'Scrapings'

Well I’ll be damned, there are some tall deer around here!

Not quite.  So the gears started turning.

There is a hollow in the tree and just so happens that most of the other bare bark occurs right around this natural nesting spot.  Who likes to sleep in trees and possibly chew or scrape at them?  Perhaps these scrapings are more likely to be feast scars of our dear prickly friend the North American porcupine who happens to LOVE the delectable flavour of tree bark.  Well it sure isn’t my cup of tea but maybe that’s because I don’t have a coat of soft fur and barb-ended quills!

I took a quick look around to see if I could find any other signs of a porcupine being in the area (I looked for a large brown lump in the branches) but nothing really presented itself so a quick Google image search when I got home confirmed the markings were porcupine gnaw marks.

No deer antler but still a find I am proud to share.

If you are interested in learning more about our dear friend the porcupine please check out the link for National Geographic below and be sure to listen to the sound clip!


Feel free to leave a comment and let me know if you’ve ever come across a nature mystery while on a walk.

(@adrianp_james maybe a deer leg in a tree?!)


One thought on “A Side Note – Don’t Go Shooting Your Quills At Me

  1. Great find Kelly! That is just super cool.

    I believe my third summer at Murphys Point had two little traveling porcupines chewing on the staff house back deck – the main supports no less! Lots of crunching and chewing sounds.

    I have been on the ‘hunt’ (watching the highways while I’m driving) for hawks. In the last year, every time I’ve been on a highway, I’ve seen a hawk – red tailed, usually. They are usually sitting on a fence post or being chased by a grackle or sparrow.

    And since you mentioned the deer leg, I’ll tell the story.

    It all began with a camper canoe trip and a horrible smell. We got the report that a dead deer was on the shore line of Loon Lake at Murphys Point just below the hill where the maintenance building is. She was doe but we weren’t sure of age, older than one year for certain. A warden and I were dispatched (excitedly) to move said deer from the shore to prevent the next camper canoe brigade of a horrible shock and smell. So we dragged her body up the hill and into the forest away from the lake and said our good byes. About a week later the maintenance foreman was complaining about a horrible smell and so another naturalist and I went back to see what was going on with our smell friend. She was in full decomposition-mode with maggots and the works. Some vultures lurked near by as well so we were careful about keeping our distance. She sure was smelly but there wasn’t much of a way to move the body now – it would have been a real mess.

    A few days later, walking into work on the main park road, we discovered a wonderful present. A full dear leg hanging from a (probably spruce or pine) tree. At first, I suspected the Fisher, a famously fast and ‘ferocious’ carnivore who was scavenging. But then I thought, even though they’re great climbers, it doesn’t make sense. We finally all agreed that it was probably a turkey vulture that had made off with one of the dear’s legs and eventually dropped it, leaving for us to find. How thoughtful!

    Great post Kelly!


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