Hunting Reeves’s Muntjac in England

Reeves’s muntjac is native to China and Taiwan. It is not native any place in Europe, but one of the places where it has been introduced is England. The epicenter of their population in that country is Bedfordshire, where this hunt takes place.  The Dukes of Bedford were into promoting deer on their estate, Woburn Abbey, and they were instrumental in saving the Pere David’s deer from extinction. One suggestion is that the muntjac in England derived from Reeves’s muntjac that escaped Woburn Abbey, but they also could have derived from escapees from the Whipsnade Zoo.

Whatever their origin, Reeves’s muntjac have established themselves a long way from their native territory, and they do quite a bit of damage to trees.

And what usually happens is that people are encouraged to hunt the invasives, but as you can see from the selective shooting that goes on this video, the species is now being managed as a sort of game species on many estates. This development should be of no surprise, and it should be noted that island of Great Britain has only two native deer species, the red and the roe. The very common fallow deer was introduced by the Romans and then again the Normans from the European continent.

But the fallow deer is essentially managed as a native game species. The exact same thing is done with Sika deer that have been introduced to Maryland. White-tailed deer are treated the same way in the Czech Republic, as are all the deer that have been introduced to New Zealand.

Whatever their treatment as a game or invasive species, this video does provide a nice closeup of the male Reeves’s muntjac as a specimen. Of particular note are the tusks, which they use for fighting and display.  It is mentioned in this clip that they are “musk deer, ” but this is in error.

This error comes from the tusks that both muntjac and musk deer possess, but musk deer are placed in their own family (Moschidae).  True deer are Cervidae, and all the muntjac species are true deer that fall into the Cervinae subfamily (which includes red deer, fallow deer, and North American elk).  However, they are primitive Cervinae.

Musk deer differ in some morphological characters from true deer in that they don’t have facial glands, possess only a single pair of teats, and have a gallbladder.  They also never have antlers, and all species possess a scent gland on their tail.

The common ancestor of musk and true deer, though, had prominent tusks. The modern muntjac species is unique in that it still has those fangs of the earliest Cervinae.

The other true deer that is known for its tusks is the Asian water deer, which was definitely introduced to Britain thanks to escapees from Woburn Abbey. But it is not closely related to the muntjac at all.

It is also not a musk deer, even though it has much more prominent tusks than the muntjac and never has antlers. Instead, it fits within Capreolinae, the subfamily of deer that includes roe deer, moose, reindeer/caribou, and all the New World deer but the wapiti. Its prominent tusks and lack of antlers are a also primitive trait in this lineage of deer.

That muntjac and water deer are both fanged shows that more primitive animals will resemble each other more the derived forms of their respective lineages.

These cnine teeth are celebrated in North America elk lore. Their “ivory” is taken as almost as much a trophy as the antlers, and indigenous people in Canada and the US used them as jewelry. They aren’t sharp daggers like those found on muntjac and water deer, though. They are just vestigial teeth that show that the ancestor of the great bugling bull were once little fanged creatures.

These upper canines also appear in white-tailed deer on occasion as an atavism.

Beyond these little fangs, North American deer lack these primitive traits, so I find fangs on these Asian species totally fascinating.

They are windows into the past, when deer were just little beasts of the undergrowth.


Natural History

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Winter Inspiration

Winter Inspiration
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Well guys, since we’re officially 1 week + 1 day away from the first day of winter, I decided it was time for our annual-ish winter inspiration post. We all know (thanks to my exhaustively excessive complaining about it) that I’m not a fan of wintertime. I’m trying to stay positive though, as you may have read about in yesterday’s post. Self pity never works, after all. And to combat a looming negative attitude, each year at the beginning of the season, I seek out beautiful images to remind me that, despite it making me feel like I’m living in a freezing, dark cave for several months, winter really can be beautiful.

Whether you’re a winter lover or someone, well, more like me, I hope these images get you in a good mindset for the new season.

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Make Bacon Yule Logs for Your Dog! #Recipe

Today we’re excited to take part in Rover.com’s 12 Days of DIY campaign! The holidays are a time for family, inspiration, and creativity. If you’re anything like the Dog People at…



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DogTipper

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Puerto Rico Pup Leads Officials to Her Trapped Owner

Agua the Puerto Rican Dog

Photo Credit: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

Many people and pets in Puerto Rico are still recovering from the devastation Hurricane Maria caused almost two months ago. However, heroes of both the human and animal variety are showing their true colors in the aftermath. One little dog, named Agua, was named “a four-legged hero” by the U.S. Department of the Interior on Twitter.

According to KKTV, James Casey, an employee with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service was working in Puerto Rico on a mission for the Federal Emergency Management Agency. James was assessing the security of a closed hospital in Humaco with about 30 others when they spotted a small dog wearing a sweater.

“We were curious as to why a dog would be wearing a sweater alone in this area,” James told reporters. He added that their attention was also piqued because “the dog kept going up and down the hill.”

Intrigued, James and the others decided to follow the dog. At the bottom of the hill, they found a woman trapped under a scooter. She was Agua’s owner and had been attempting to reach the hospital. Due to the terrain, there was an accident and the scooter rolled on top of the woman. The woman was trapped and had prior medical issues that meant she desperately needed the team’s help.

James described where they found the woman as “abandoned” and “littered with debris.” He continued, “if it wasn’t for this little dog, it would have been likely she would not have been found and possibly perished.”

Because Agua not only caught the team’s attention, but led them to her owner, they were able to assist before it was too late. According to the Department of the Interior, the team radioed another official who was able to coordinate with hospital doctors so the team could immediately respond to the woman’s needs. Another member of the team was able to grab an ambulance to transport the woman to an emergency department. That evening, after the owner had been treated, Agua was able to be reunited with the woman she had saved.

James told reporters that the team was impressed by the dog’s devotion and quick actions. He said, “We all voted Agua the dog the hero of our mission.” Maybe soon Agua will have a cape to go with her sweater!

Halo Pets

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My Cat & Dog Film Festivals Are Coming To NYC This Weekend!

Dog Film Festival in New York City - December 10th

I am more excited than I was as a 3-year-old when there was a clown and pony rides at my birthday party! In 48 hours my NY Cat and Dog Film Festivals are going to take over the SVA Theatre in Chelsea and light up the hearts of pet lovers in New York City and the surrounding area.

The big difference between this and my childhood party excitement is that there are a lot more people coming to the “parties” I’m throwing this weekend in New York City. And I sure hope you will have a chance to join us for a once-in-a-lifetime experience of sharing with like-minded animal lovers the bond you feel with pets. I truly hope to share this experience with many of the people who listen to my pet talk radio shows ad meet them in person.

Leanne Italie wrote an insightful paean to the festivals for the Associated Press (AP) and the Washington Post was the first to grab her story. The separate festivals are on different days – Saturday afternoon December 9th for the premiere of the NY Cat Film Festival™ and Sunday the 10th for the 3rd Annual NY Dog Film Festival™. Both festivals consist of two separate programs of completely different short films (animated, documentary and narrative) which each have an incredible medley of short films celebrating the species of choice.

The Cats Have Their Day!
For the first time ever, the NY Cat Film Festival™ will premiere with an intellectual and emotional roller-coaster ride for cat lovers, similar to what dog aficionados have experienced with the NY Dog Film Festival™ for two years. The NY Cat Film Festival™ is funded by Dr. Elsey’s Precious Cat, a wonderful family-owned, philanthropic Colorado-based business, with all their products developed by Dr. Elsey himself, a feline-only veterinarian. The festival features two 70-minute programs of short films that explore our fascination with the felines who share our world. Gina from Dr. Elsey’s is flying in from Colorado to hand out samples and coupons from Elsey’s Precious Cat, with the help of volunteers from the Mayor’s Alliance for NYC’s animals, which has a Feral Cat Initiative, which is the beneficiary of a portion of every ticket.

Today in the New York Times, Laurel Graeber wrote this INCREDIBLE piece about the NY Cat Film Festival™. I am bursting with happiness and gratitude that she captured the essence of what it’s all about – two completely different programs of short films focused on cats. The programs are 70 minutes long each, one at 3:00 PM and the second at 4:30 PM. Get information about all the films and how to buy tickets (and I do recommend buying ahead of time because we are getting close to selling out and that’s even before other people read those wonderful articles I just shared with you!).

The Dogs are Going Strong for a 3rd Year
The 3rd Annual NY Dog Film Festival™ will take on Sunday December 10th As I wrote last week, the initial funding for the NY Dog Film Festival™ came from Halo – who then passed the baton to the philanthropic Petco Foundation to that the festival could travel the country last year and going into 2018. Pura Naturals Pet is a sponsor of the festival and the first 300 ticket buyers to each of the two programs will get a sample of their organic shampoo and wipes. Weruva pet food is a sponsor of the dog festival and will be there distributing samples of their good-enough-for-people-to-eat food.

Goodie bag for Dog Film Festival

The Filmmakers Get Their Swag Bag of Goodies!
There are so many terrific filmmakers flying in from around the country, and even abroad, that I had to do something a little special to fete them. The photos show all the lovely gifts they’ll be receiving in their very nice carry bags – CAT CHAT® baseball caps for the cat folks and a branded Dog Film festival leash and t-shirt for the canine crowd. My favorite interactive cat toy, the Nekoflies, went to every cat filmmaker as well. Halo® put freeze-dried Liv-a-Little salmon in the cat bags and the chicken Liv-a-Littles for the dogs, along with canned food for each species, as well. For the feline filmmakers, Jackson Galaxy graciously put his new book TOTAL CAT MOJO in their bags, as did Rita Mae Brown with her Mrs. Murphy mystery “Tall Tail,” while dog filmmakers receive Heather Weston’s gorgeous picture book, “Canines of New York” and “Loyal: 38 Inspiring Tales of Bravery, Heroism and the Devotion of Dogs,” by Rebecca Ascher-Walsh. Pura Naturals put in big bottles of organic, cruelty-free lavender cat or dog shampoo, and GoodNewsforPets.com has a thank-you for every filmmaker, too: flashlight flashdrives with Moleskin memo pad.

Goodie bag for Cat Film Festival

There will be volunteers from our beneficiary, the Mayor’s Alliance for NYC’s Animals, and others from NYC Animal Care Center to let people know about how to foster and adopt, all “waving the flag about the great animals for adoption among the more than 150 rescue groups the Mayor’s Alliance supports. Student members of the Stuyvesant School Canine Appreciation Club will be on hand again, helping me greet and seat people and make sure everyone has an optimal time.

Won’t you join me for this very special weekend?

Tracie HotchnerTracie Hotchner is a nationally acclaimed pet wellness advocate, who wrote THE DOG BIBLE: Everything Your Dog Wants You to Know and THE CAT BIBLE: Everything Your Cat Expects You to Know. She is recognized as the premiere voice for pets and their people on pet talk radio. She continues to produce and host her own Gracie® Award winning NPR show DOG TALK®  (and Kitties, Too!) from Peconic Public Broadcasting in the Hamptons after 9 consecutive years and over 500 shows. She produced and hosted her own live, call-in show CAT CHAT® on the Martha Stewart channel of Sirius/XM for over 7 years until the channel was canceled, when Tracie created her own Radio Pet Lady Network where she produces and co-hosts CAT CHAT® along with 10 other pet talk radio podcasts with top veterinarians and pet experts.

Dog Film Festival - Tracie HotchnerTracie also is the Founder and Director of the annual NY Dog Film Festival, a philanthropic celebration of the love between dogs and their people. Short canine-themed documentary, animated and narrative films from around the world create a shared audience experience that inspires, educates and entertains. With a New York City premiere every October, the Festival then travels around the country, partnering in each location with an outstanding animal welfare organization that brings adoptable dogs to the theater and receives half the proceeds of the ticket sales. Halo was a Founding Sponsor in 2015 and donated 10,000 meals to the beneficiary shelters in every destination around the country in 2016.

Tracie lives in Bennington, Vermont – where the Radio Pet Lady Network studio is based – and where her 12 acres are well-used by her 2-girl pack of lovely, lively rescued Weimaraners, Maisie and Wanda.

Halo Pets

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Win an Isle of Dogs Holiday Prize Pack! #Giveaway

Are your dogs ready for the holidays? For all the family fun the holidays bring, we all know that with all the joy and excitement can come a fair bit of stress for us AND for our dogs. Whether…



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DogTipper

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More royal puppy love

The Poodle (and Dog) Blog

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November Golden Poodle awards

The Poodle (and Dog) Blog

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Sparkling White Winter Sangria

Sparkling Winter White Sangria

Thank you VOVETI for sponsoring this post. Elevate your entertaining this season with VOVETI Prosecco.

My fellow summer worshippers will likely agree that there is nothing quite like relaxing in the sunshine in sunglasses and flip flops, feet kicked up, with a glass of fresh, fruity sangria. When I visualize all of my favorite summertime stereotypes (which I do, and often), sangria makes an appearance much of the time.

A couple of weeks ago, I was in one of my longing-for-summer states of mind, and I decided that I needed to come up with a new version of sangria that would be more appropriate for wintertime. I ended up creating a seriously delicious sparkling winter white sangria. I don’t use brandy or a ton of fruit juice like you normally find in traditional sangrias, so it’s nice and crisp, and doesn’t mask the flavor of the prosecco. So good.

Sparkling Winter White Sangria
Sparkling Winter White Sangria

INGREDIENTS

1 bottle (750 ML) VOVETI Prosecco, chilled
1/2 cup fresh clementine or orange juice
2-4 tablespoons sugar (depending on level of sweetness desired)
4-6 clementines, peeled and separated into segments
1 apple (we like Fuji), cut into small cubes
1 cup of fresh cranberries

In a large pitcher, combine the VOVETI clementine or orange juice, and sugar. Stir until sugar is dissolved. Add clementines, apples, and cranberries. Let marinate in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes. Pour into glasses and top with a squeeze of fresh clementine juice. Enjoy!

Sparkling Winter White Sangria
Sparkling Winter White Sangria
Sparkling Winter White Sangria
Sparkling Winter White Sangria

I love using VOVETI for this cocktail, because its level of dryness and delicious hints of fruit make it perfect for sangria. I’m also a big fan of the fact that it has more bubbles than any other prosecco. If you’re not yet familiar with VOVETI, it’s brut style DOC with tempered acuity and a fresh, graceful profile, making it a great aperitif before a meal with friends, or an evening cocktail to enjoy with your partner (or by yourself!). I always have a bottle chilling in the fridge. (It makes a killer mimosa too!)

Sparkling Winter White Sangria

While this sparkling white sangria could easily be enjoyed in the summertime too, I think it’s perfect for the winter months. Robbie, who is mostly a beer drinker, loves it as much as I do. In fact, it’s become one of our go-to night caps after the kids go to bed and we want to spend a few minutes together just chilling. Sometimes we just make individual servings with VOVETI mini bottles instead of a full size. Either way, it’s so easy to whip together. I’m looking forward to making it for friends next time we host a gathering. If you try it, I’d love to hear what you think too!


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Bubby and Bean ::: Living Creatively

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The Great West Virginia Deer Cull

buck white antler

The second Thursday in November has just passed. In most of the country, thoughts will be about the big feast that comes exactly seven days later, but not in my part of the world.

This coming week does include American Thanksgiving. Big family meals will be held that day, and swarms of people will go charging out to shopping malls on Friday.

But in West Virginia, another holiday takes precedence: “buck gun season.”  This coming Monday, the woods be filled with more loud booms than the Fourth of July.  Organic protein and “horns” will be the prize, and a few more forest destroying cervids will be removed from the population before the coming winter turns them into twig chomping fiends.

When I was a child, all sort of people came into the rural districts, often people who had grown up in the area but had gone into the industrial parts of Ohio for work. Ohio’s deer season, “shotgun only,” came later in the year, but West Virginia’s came the week of Thanksgiving. If one wanted to visit the family for the holiday, why not come a few days early and drop a buck for the freezer?

It was such a big event that the school was out all week, not just Thursday and Friday. We received a truncated Christmas vacation, but school attendance during that week would have been terrible. So the district let us all out.

And the tradition continues. I don’t know of a single school district in West Virginia that stays open the week of Thanksgiving.

In fact, virtually every college or university in West Virginia has a week-long holiday this coming week. It is that big a deal.

And it’s not like the deer are massive trophies. The state has antler restrictions in only a few public hunting lands, and in most of the state, there will be many young bucks taken. Because the “antlerless” firearms season occurs at the same time, button bucks will be taken as well. When that many younger bucks are removed from the population, the number of mature deer with nice racks becomes much lower.

But this is a state that allows the hunter to take six deer a year.  If you have a family who owns land and have two hunters who have resident rights to it, you’re talking potentially twelve deer killed a year, which could feed a family of four fairly well.

I come from a family of deer hunters, but they were not venison eaters. When I was a kid, every deer that got shot was given to a relative or someone who couldn’t hunt. My grandpa, who loved to hunt everything and would have us eat cooked squirrel brains, wouldn’t even field dress a deer. That was my dad’s job, and for whatever reason, if my dad or my grandpa even smelled venison cooking, it would make their stomachs weak.

I never had this problem, and in the last few years, I’ve learned how to cook venison properly. I much prefer the meat to beef, especially when we’re talking leaving certain steak cuts rare.  These deer have been living well on acorns, and their flesh has that oaky, rich taste, which some call gamey. I call it delicious.

I’ll be in the woods early Monday morning. I don’t know if I’ll get anything.  The odds are usually against my killing anything that first week.  I don’t have access to the best deer bedding grounds, and the hunting pressure means they won’t be moving into the area where I hunt.

My favorite time to go is Thursday evening, when more than half the local hunters are at home watching football games and digesting turkey. I would rather go through waterboarding than watch a football game, so it’s not big loss for me.

I am a naturalist hunter on the quest for meat. My ancestors in Germany, the Netherlands, and Great Britain hunted the red deer and the roe thousands of years. They got their meat from the forest.

I am doing the same.

And if you really wanted to know what I think of deer, I’d have to say that I love them. They are fascinating animals.  This particular species has been roaming North America virtually unchanged for 3 million years. This animal watched the mammoths rise and fall. It was coursed by Armbruster’s wolf and the American cheetahs.  It saw the elk come down from Beringia– and the bison too. It ran the back country with primitive horses and several species of pronghorn. It quivered and blew out at jaguars and American lions that stalked in the bush, and it dodged the Clovis points of the Siberian hunters who first colonized this land.

The white-tailed deer thrives so well, but this coming week is the beginning of the great cull. Fewer deer mean less pressure on the limited winter forage, which means healthier deer in the early spring. Better winter and spring condition means that does have had a chance to carry fawns to term, and mature does usually have twins if the conditions are good.  Healthier bucks get a better chance to grow nice antlers for the coming year.

A public resource is being managed. Organic meat raised without hormones or antibiotics is easily procured, and stories and yarns are being compiled for exposition that rivals any trophy mount on the wall.

I know deer stories, including ones about the people I barely knew and are no longer with us.

For example:

My Grandpa Westfall once went on a deer drive for my great grandpa, who was getting older.  He valued his clean shot placement, as many of those old time hunters did, and he would not shoot a deer on the run.

But as he grew older, deer hunting became harder for him, so my grandpa decided to jump one out to him.

My grandpa went rustling through the brush to drive one into my great grandpa’s ran, and he happened to bump a nice little buck and a few does that went running in his direction.

Expecting to hear rifle shots, my grandpa was a bit surprised to hear nothing. So when he approached the deer stand, he saw my great grandpa sitting there.

“Did you see those deer?”

“What deer?”

“I ran three out to you. A buck and two does. Why didn’t you shoot?”

“I didn’t see or hear any deer.”

“Well, you should have at least heard them.”

“Well, if there were that many deer coming my way, they must’ve had their sneakers on.”

He didn’t want to tell my grandpa that he appreciated the effort, but that deer drives were against his ethics. He shot deer cleanly, or he didn’t shoot them at all.

These old men will be with me when I’m out on Monday.  I go in their memory, participating in the Great West Virginia Deer Cull.

 

 

 

 


Natural History

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