...which definitely made our morning walk a lot more comfortable. I finally told Scrappy it was time to get up around 8:40 (isn't vacation great?) and were immediately greeted by Mr. Bunny Rabbit out the bedroom window. This served to make Scrappy unwilling to eat breakfast before we left. However, my sitting down and looking at the morning e-mails and making my Fox NFL "Frank's Picks" (which I hope to do better than the 1-3 last week) seemed to convince him.
We've been taking the path along the top of the meadow to the woods lately, in hopes of seeing the foxes again. Which we did, yesterday, tearing out of the corner house's yard, stopping just long enough to check us out. Not today, though, so I told Scrappy to look for the small path into the woods (about halfway to the main entrance) that we've been using. Now, some days, he can almost read my mind when it comes to trails; others, he couldn't find his butt with a spotlight. Today was one of the latter. I, however, knew the trail in, and we went on across the main trail and into the west side of the woods.
This woods is easy to travel. There are a ton of deer tracks and dry stream beds to follow. We were following such a trail, and I was just thinking that, by the way Scrappy was acting, that no deer had been by lately. That's when I learned how truly one-dimensional the great hunter's schnozz is, because a young buck was standing about 15 feet to my right. His rack only cleared his ears by about 2 inches. He stood there, and I talked to him for a bit, and then he turned to my right and took off for the edge of the woods (which was about 50 feet straight in front of us. Mr. Boy was oblivious to the entire event, and soon we continued on.
Just a bit in front of us, a stream bed ran north and south. I turned us south on it, grateful to avoid the nearby track that the buck had been on. (Had Scrappy smelled where he was, I'd have been careening the other way, and it wasn't my intention to chase him around.) We managed about 20 feet down this path when the young doe appeared in front of us. Once again, Scrappy hadn't noticed, and wouldn't have except that just then the buck came charging back down the track that ran parallel to us along the woods' edge, and when he got there, the doe went with him. This time, Scrappy couldn't help but see a running deer just 10 feet in front of his nose. Standing with his front paws up on a log, he watched dumbfounded as the buck ran right past him, met up with his mate, and disappeared to the south. It took him about a three-count before his pea brain said, "Hey, that was a deer!" and he decided to try and go after them.
As I said, though, I wasn't interested in turning their morning into a panic, so I forced him to stay the course. There are a lot of these little bed and trails on the west side, and we quickly separated from their track and moved on. Soon as you head south, you hit this big ridge that runs almost the width of the west side as the woods begins to drop towards the creek. A little ways before that the bed we were in has an enormous downed trunk across it. High enough up for Mr. Boy to get under, and me if I wanted to go on my belly, but thick enough that when I tried a while back to scootch over it, I about didn't make it. So this time we went around, and on the way, the two deer were watching about 30 feet towards the main trail. I kept to our path, so they knew we weren't heading their way, but looked right at them so they knew I saw them. As we moved on, they wandered back off to where they were when our dance started.
At the top of the ridge is a long log, flat to the ground, which has a row of branches stacked together like a blind. Since there's no hunting allowed on IPFW property, I've always assumed it was a leftover from the paintball battle we blundered into our first autumn here. You go down then into a depression shielded from the trail by a north-south extension of the ridge, and one past that you drop into the largest of the dry beds. It runs east-west from trail to wood's edge and forks down to the creek, right where we took Laurie across a few weeks back.
So of course, we went to the creek, and crossed to the south bank. The creek makes a slow left-hand turn here, and so there's a sizable "beach" on the south bank. Here I got a drink from my canteen while Scrappy went swimming. He decided then to follow a trail he found up from the creek. It ran between a large tree and accompanying treelets and an enormous mound of overgrown dirt, which I assume was left over from artificial trail sculpting. It also circles back to the creek, and after convincing him that he really didn't want to go 'round in circles, we made our way back to the main trail and spent the rest of the walk without incident.
Since I mentioned our recent animal sightings, I may as well get that up to date. A walk around Waterloo with Tina and clan netted three black squirrels (or "Mexican" squirrels, as Tina calls them). Our trips to Fallen Timbers and Wildwood had enough chipmunks that I am lumping them in with regular squirrels in the "too numerous to bother with" category. One day last week, we woke up to 2 deer in the back yard; and a pair of coon sightings, one in the back yard making his nightly trip to the dumpster, and one on Hillegas on our way to dinner with Laurie's family. So all this brings us to 38 deer, 19 rabbit, 7 bat, 4 skunk, 5 raccoon, 5 groundhog, 2 opossum, 5 fox, 4 black squirrel, the 2 weasel-like unknowns, and the longhorn steer.