Our Accidential Animal Sanctuary
by John Delach
Little House, the rural vacation home in Marlow, NH has been in our family since 1984. It sits off a dirt road three quarters of a mile from NH State Highway 10 (once known as the Dartmouth Highway.) Approximately one acre of the property is cleared but the deed shows the size of the parcel as being: “Ten acres more or less.” This vagueness is understandable as the overwhelmingly wooded part of the plot borders on a NH State Forest.
Over the years we have hiked through the woods many times especially in the fall when the weather is cool, dry and free of bugs. We have never encountered other critters except for the occasional deer or wild turkey and figured that the scents and noise of our Golden Retrievers kept other critters at bay. We never gave much thought as to what might be living in these woods.
Nope, we never gave it a thought until this past Labor Day when, John R, a college roommate of our son, Michael together with his friend, Dave, paid us a visit. John and Dave are hunters who hail from Billerica, Mass. John had researched this area and our land in particular as a possible hunting spot free from other hunters.
They asked our permission to hunt here once the season opened on November 7. We readily agreed; so John explained what they wanted to do was to fix a heat and motion – sensitive camera to a tree about 100 yards from the clearing. John explained, “That way we will learn what animals are back there and how often they come around.”
They returned several times in the following weeks to download the camera and John duly texted the photos to me. Surprisingly, over time the camera caught considerable activity including a black bear and her two cubs, a buck deer with an impressive rack, a female moose, a feral pig and a bobcat.
No doubt about it, we had been inadvertently operating an animal sanctuary practically in our back yard. Remarkably, over all those years and all the dogs (10) that had lived with us and our children’s families, only once did a dog encounter a critter. That was Maggie who suffered a serious stomach wound from what I took for granted was a raccoon. (The wound became infected and only the kind care by Dr. Ann at the Port Washington Animal Hospital saved Maggie.) But now, who knows for sure what she encountered?
John and Dave decided to try their luck on the opening weekend November 10 to 13. We offered them the use of our house as their hunting camp that they readily and gratefully accepted.
As the old saying goes though, once hunting season begins the animals disappear. They did manage to spot a large buck, but he must have spotted them too because he vamoosed not to be seen again…and so it goes. Oh well, there’s always next year.