Finally, my game camera has captured its first infrared photos of unauthorized nocturnal garden visitors (as opposed to the 300-odd candid pictures of ProfessorRoush puttering in his own garden). It has gone over a month without catching of a single critter since I placed it into the garden, so I was thinking about abandoning all hope or at least preparing to move it yet again, but suddenly there they were.
Thankfully, I have not documented evidence of the existence of Bigfoot in my garden, but I have captured two separate creatures on two separate nights. One of them, wandering out of the garden after a presumed late night snack at 3:05 a.m. on 5/22/12, is obviously a deer, or more accurately, a doe. This same doe was likely also the cause of a hollyhock eaten back to nubbins sometime on 5/18/12, but that is the only deer-like damage I have detected recently. With the continuation of last-year's lack of rain here, you can forget about footprints as collaborative evidence of garden raiding parties.
Okay, I've got a deer, but what is this other thing, which visited on 5/14/12 at 10:17 p.m.? Much lower to the ground (I'd estimate it at about 1 feet tall and maybe 2 feet long), and with erect ears visible in two pictures? I'd think coyote, but the hindquarters seem too plump and low-slung. That is the butt of a pig, not a coyote and the coyote would carry its head higher. Raccoon? I can't see the tail that I'd expect there and it probably wouldn't have the ears. Bobcat? That would be an incredible find, and, again, the hindquarters look wrong. Rabbit? It would be a big one and where is the fluffy tail? A previously undescribed prairie mammal or an alien creature from another world? That would indeed "be wondrous strange!" To mangle and turn Hamlet's statement into a question, are there really "more things in heaven and earth than are dreamt of in our philosophy?" In this case, I sincerely doubt it.
On the bright side, I now know three sure things that I didn't know yesterday. First, I've got a deer that returns repeatedly to the green larder of my garden. Second, there is another something prowling around at night that probably isn't there just to sample the greenery. Third, both of these creatures are lazy and bold since they are taking the mown paths from my garden down into the prairie rather than coming and going through the taller, denser grass.
Maybe I'd better rescind their invitations and quit mowing the paths?.