Strange Kills: Why You Find What You Find in the Woods

December 8, 2020

It was on a very cold November day that I was out rabbit hunting in the snow when I saw a strange sight. It was a skunk dangling from a strand of barbed wire and it was flapping in the breeze. Now, it was right at dawn on a cold and windy day; however, I didn't believe that it was windy enough to blow a skunk. As I got closer, the mystery intensified. The thing hanging from the barbed wire was not a skunk per se... it had once been a skunk, but now it was mostly a skunk skin. I say mostly because it was a skin with feet, head, and tail still firmly attached.

"Odd" I thought reflectively, some sort of witchery no doubt.

Fast forward a few years, (I was fourteen at the time of the skunk skin). On this day I'm in the same woods, but this time I'm squirrel hunting, when I see a young squacker lying low on the the length of a branch about 20 feet up in the boughs of a tree. I take very careful aim and shoot for his head with my .22. He flinches slightly, but that's it. He just sits there. I shoot again and the same thing happens. A very slight movement but that's it. The third shot brings him down out of the tree. I rush over and what do I find? I find a mostly squirrel skin. Head, tail, and feet are attached just like the skunk.

Unlike the skunk skin, (which I passed off as some sort of anomaly, like those cattle mutilations you read about on occasion), this one chilled my blood a little. This skin wasn't out in the open as if placed there to draw attention. I began imagining all sorts of vile creatures lurking about seeking poor creatures to rip from their skins. However, a little research revealed what the true culprit was... a Great Horned Owl.

I knew of course that we had a couple of them in the woods, I could hear them hoot to each other in the creek bottoms at night, but it never occurred to me that they were the types of litterbugs that they are, eating sack lunches and leaving the bags and bones everywhere. I was just relieved that it was a normal type of creature and not some sort of sasquatch or golem prowling about. The real kicker to learning the truth of the matter was when I thought to research what predator skunks have. The Great Horned Owl is the only one they've got... which should tell you a lot about Great Horned Owls.

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