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The Carletonian

The Carletonian

The Carletonian

Thanksgiving marks the start of the deer hunt

<nksgiving is around the corner and, for Carleton students, this means impending finals, more days studying indoors and an ever-shrinking window of opportunity to explore the autumnal arboretum before we are scattered to the winds of winter break. For wildlife in the Arb, the imminence of Thanksgiving holds an entirely different sort of significance; the holiday marks the onset of the deer hunt.

Every year, from Thanksgiving through New Years’, the Arboretum issues limited permits to local archers who participate in a bow-hunt of white-tailed deer. The objective is not to eradicate the deer entirely, but rather keep the population low by discouraging deer from seeking refuge in the Arb as a safe haven from other hunted areas nearby.

In addition, the deer hunt also reminds us of the presence of wildlife in the Arb, as hunters are especially attuned to subtle “signs” in nature that give clues to the whereabouts of deer and are often overlooked by the casual passerby. These include rubs, areas of worn bark on tree trunks where bucks have rubbed their antlers, scrapes, bare patches of ground where bucks have scraped aside leaf litter and urinated on the soil, bedding areas of flattened prairie and the ubiquitous tracks, trails and droppings left behind.

Archers’ perceptiveness to these signs reminds us that the imprint of wildlife on habitat is everywhere, even if manifested unexpectedly or unobviously. Have you ever seen (or smelled) evidence of deer in the Arb, without actually seeing one? Or seen the whittled-down, pencil-top tree stumps along the Cannon River that indicate busily homemaking beavers nearby? Or maybe you’ve followed, on a lark, what appeared to be a deer trail until it revealed itself to be the well-plodded path of a slow snapping turtle. There are countless clues to follow of wildlife in the Arb, so whether you are out scouting with (permitted) bow-and-arrow or simply staving off finals stress on the trails, take a moment to look deeply into your surroundings and wonder at what creatures might have walked there before you.

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