Notes from the Island
December 1990

At the beginning of November a young buck with a four point rack spent a week on tiny Box Elder Island off the lower tip of Sycamore. I first noticed him on a Sunday afternoon when I was canoeing. He was standing in full view and appeared to be hurt and bleeding from the mouth. At first I thought he had been hit by a car and had suffered internal injuries.

However, as days passed, the blood disappeared even though the deer held its mouth open at a strange angle. Occasionally it would walk to the water's edge and drink, but mostly the buck remained hidden behind a pile of driftwood caught against a tree.

Thinking the animal might have trouble eating, I tried leaving hay, corn, greens and even Wheatena near its watering place. Some of the food disappeared, but I suspect the crows got it.

On Friday it began to rain and the Potomac started to rise. Two days later the buck was gone and I haven't seen it since. There were deer prints at the lower and upper ends of the Island, but I don't know if any deer are visiting the Island regularly now.

I have heard reports that there are many deer around and that they are acting strangely in rutting season. Someone told me a deer had been wandering around the streets of Mohican Hills. Bob Black has reported seeing several bucks in his backyard.

Because winter is approaching, the beavers are very active now, chomping down trees at the lower end of Sycamore and near the swim float. These aquatic rodents have repaired their lodge on the island above Ruppert's, which was washed out in the last flood, and they are slowly denuding the maple and the elm which John Stapko and company felled during the Work Fest.

The other night while investigating a loud rustling in the leaves outside our window, I discovered an opossum rooting for food. I stood motionless in the shadow of the outside light and the opossum walked within three feet of me before it sniffed in astonishment and scampered off behind the toolshed.

I hear predictions of a cold winter, so sharpen up your ice skates and come on down.

-- Peter Jones, Sycamore Island Caretaker