Death at the Dells - a story in four parts

This morning Andrea and I headed out to do a little prep work for my scout program tomorrow. As we were finishing up flagging a couple trees by the kiosk, we saw a couple Forest Preserve fellows on their “trail vehicle” in the woods. They drove past us, waved, and drove on. We thought nothing of it and headed down the icy path.

We weren’t two minutes down the trail when we saw the first pool of blood. (My foot is in the photo for scale - it was a lot of blood.) The tan stuff is probably fecal matter.

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Oh dear! We were suddenly concerned that one of the guys had been injured doing some restoration work. As the tale unfolded ahead of us, though, we discovered that no people were injured. We can’t say the same for some unfortunate critter.

The following videos were filmed later in the morning - the original footage was not of good quality.)

In Part Two, we find ourselves further down the trail, where additional evidence was deposited both on the trail and along side it. (Due to cameraman error, this version of Part 2 was filmed after parts 3 and 4.)

We continue to follow the clues in Part Three - where did it go and what did it do?

And finally we wrap up with Part four - conclusions to our whodunnit.

When we first arrived at the gut piles, Andrea thought she saw an animal dashing through the woods. “It was much bigger than a squirrel,” she said, but it was only a flash, of movement and she couldn’t say conclusively what it looked like. After I had returned from my second filming of the crime scenes, and had come to the conclusion that our predator was probably a fox, she watched a video online of a fox and thought that the movement fit what she saw. And since the evidence I saw when I went back out to “film” again suggested that the predator had returned, it is not unlikely that she did indeed see it - it had moved off to a safe distance to wait for us to move on so it could finish scavenging any edible parts left behind.

I haven’t had this much fun with such a mystery since I found a massive scat in the Adirondacks that was full of fur and claws that belonged to a fisher that I suspect was eaten by either a very large coyote or possibly a bear. That one took some hands-on dissecting to suss out!

Does every trip outside end in such an adventure? Well…you won’t know unless you go out there, eh? Let us know what amazing discoveries you make the next time you are out and about.