Trail cam captures a bit of nature, and it’s gross

Nature isn’t always as beautiful as it’s cracked up to be, and for proof we give you the picture Jim Brown, of Walhalla, N.D., submitted to a trail camera photo contest.

Well, actually we’re not going to give it to you because it’s gross, as nature often is. Don’t believe us? Here.

It’s a deer with the severed head of another deer. Apparently they got tangled up and somehow it got resolved. One would drag around the head of the other.

“I believe I had both of those bucks alive in one (earlier) picture,” Brown tells the Fargo Forum. “Then all of a sudden that one, that’s how he showed up. I didn’t see him as he was dragging the body around. I only ever saw him with what was left of the other one.”

Brown hasn’t seen the survivor since the cold wave earlier this month. He figures it’s probably dead now, too.

“My guess is that if you’re dragging around like that, you fight with it, fight with it and it twists and turns,” Brown said. “My guess he ripped it off. I can’t imagine the coyotes got him and not the one that was alive because they’ll take down a full deer no problem. Especially if he was stressed out like that.

“I personally think he just broke (the head) off himself, but who knows?”

The discussion about what might have happened is no picnic, either.

Randy Dufault of East Grand Forks, a longtime hunter and certified measurer for Minnesota Official Measurers, says he’s seen bucks become entangled, but normally one of the bucks dies in battle. The other buck paws and drags the head until it eventually separates from the carcass.

Normally, though, there’s not a clean cut separating the head from the rest of the body as there is in this case, Dufault says.

That makes him wonder, he said.

“I’m not sure because normally, it’s all torn, and the spine is dangling,” Dufault said.

Jay Boulanger, an assistant professor of wildlife ecology and human dimensions at UND and an experienced deer hunter, also questioned the clean cut that severed the buck’s head from its body.

“This was not likely done by predators,” Boulanger said in an email. “Coyotes, for example, may have torn at the flesh more, and would have likely gone for the other buck too.”

Instead, Boulanger theorizes “human sources” as a more likely possibility, given the uniformity of the cut.

Perhaps, he said, a single strand fence or some other type of sharp wire severed the buck’s head. The surviving buck may have worked the head loose if the other buck’s head was wrapped or caught in some kind of wire.