Pavey: Why do chickens cross the road? Maybe to eat deer

ROB PAVEY/Special Dead deer are common along desolate highways, but this one - photographed last week near Hiltonia, Ga., was a bit different. A huge chicken was feeding on it.

Remember all the jokes about “why did the chicken cross the road?”

 

We may have found a new answer.

 

I was hunting the other day down in Screven County with my friend Tom Lewis, and we took a midday break to get some snacks at the Hiltonia Mini-Mart.

Leaving town, we had just passed the liquor store when we noticed something very strange on the shoulder of the road.

“Did you see that?” Tom asked. “Is that what it looked like it was?”

I noticed it, too. It looked like a chicken feeding on a road-killed deer.

“Couldn’t be,” I said. “That would be, well, just wrong!”

We turned around and drove back for a closer look. Sure enough, it was a chicken – a huge, fat hen – way out there in the middle of nowhere, and she was neck deep and gorging herself on dead deer guts.

I’d never seen anything like that before and neither had Tom.

The hen appeared well fed, but was shy, like a wild animal. As we eased the truck closer, it lingered only a few seconds – long enough for me to snap a few photos – before bolting into the nearby woods.

In mulling the incident over later, it occurred to us that chickens might very well eat carrion – or perhaps were savvy enough to seek out insects on road-killed animals. But it was not something you’d see every day.

It was also a reminder that some of the oddest things you see while hunting aren’t always from the deer stand.

DRY DUCK HUNTING: Georgia’s Thanksgiving Week waterfowl season, which ran from Nov. 19-today, left many prime hunting spots high and dry due to a worsening drought, according to Georgia’s Wildlife Resources Division, and the next season - which runs from Dec. 10 to Jan. 29 - may not be much better.

“Many of the managed wetlands that provide habitat for migrating and wintering waterfowl on state-operated Wildlife Management Areas are currently dry,” said state waterfowl biologist Greg Balkcom. “The only projects with good water are Altamaha WMA, Arrowhead Phase II, Cordele Hatchery, Evans County PFA, and the Dan Denton Project at Oconee WMA.”

Many private waterfowl sites that depend on rainfall and runoff are also dry, including many in the east Georgia regions.

“Duck and goose hunters may have to shift their efforts towards larger bodies of water such as lakes and reservoirs that may still have water and provide habitat for migrating ducks and geese,” said Balkcom.

Thurmond Lake near Augusta, which is the largest impoundment along the Savannah River, is currently more than nine feet low and expected to continue falling, according to the Army Corps of Engineers, which has reduced flows through the river’s hydropower dams in efforts to slow declining pool levels.

ELK SENT HOME: A wandering bull elk that wandered from the North Carolina mountains into upstate South Carolina last month was safely captured and returned to a more secluded region.

With the help of the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission, the S.C. Department of Natural Resources tranquilized the Upstate’s infamous displaced elk Nov. 17 and successfully moved it to a remote area in the South Carolina mountains.

The young bull was pushed away from his home territory in Haywood County, N.C., by bigger bulls. Officials were concerned because it had moved into populated areas, where people were approaching and possibly feeding it, which is dangerous.

Reintroduction of elk into Great Smoky Mountains National Park began in 2001. The elk population around the Great Smoky Mountains is now estimated to be around 150.

 

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