January 12, 2005


I parked my car next to a road sign. I was at an overlook. The Page Valley stretched below me with the Shenandoah River winding through the close part of the valley. The sign said something like "Scenic Page County: Keep it that way. Don't litter."

As I readied for my hike on the last day of 2004, I picked up a slight whiff of some foul smell. I looked down the hill and saw why.

Directly below me was a rotting deer carcass. Off to the right was an older carcass.

Evidently some hunters had some success, and didn't want their kills, so they dumped them here.



Once I hit the trail, I noticed tire tracks. An old jeep road, the trail is plenty wide for a vehicle. I don't think that the National Forest allows motorized vehicles on this trail.

From the tracks, I deduced that the vehicle was a four-wheel-drive truck with large off-road tires. I pictured an 80s-era Ford F150. Apparently, the truck had been here recently. I think the recent frost and relatively recent rains would have mostly erased the tracks.

In some spots, the soft soil has been deeply rutted by the tires, and probably others before. In other areas, I could see the tracks where fallen leaves have been crushed by the tires.

I was on this trail in August on my mountain bike, and I don't remember any signs of automobiles then.

After about 1 1/2 miles, the jeep trail ended and the path became narrow and rocky. Still, I could see tire tracks. Must have been a tight squeeze, I thought.

Finally the tire tracks ended. In their place, I could see where a good-sized animal had been dragged. In the dirt were marks from the fur. On the rocks that studded the trail, were dark red stains.

Surely a responsible, ethical hunter would not have driven on a closed trail just because he was too lazy to muscle his kill out of the woods.

So why would someone do this?


Suffice it to say that I don't have answers for these questions. I'm not a hunter, but I don't have a problem with someone who is as long as they are reasonable about their hunting practices. In reality, the questions I pose could be asked by someone who does hunt responsibly.

Posted by JRC at January 12, 2005 08:44 PM | TrackBack