Weird, wild and wacky

We've searched our files and came up with a selection of the weirdest, wildest and wackiest stories we ran in 2009.

Undercover omnivores

There is very little about deer behavior that isn't already common knowledge, Don Mulligan writes. Whether they like it or not, deer are probably the most watched, photographed and filmed animals on earth.

Every once in a while, however, someone catches deer doing something completely out of character. If the people who catch the bizarre behavior happen to be a deer biologist and a physician with a long history of deer management, a scientific study is sure to follow.

Two such researchers recently stumbled across some crazy deer behavior, and what they uncovered has to be seen to be believed.

According to their research, deer aren't the strict vegetarians we thought they were. Sometimes deer prefer corn, apples, acorns or clover, and sometimes they just want a nice steak.

That's right: Deer eat meat.

Can a raptor carry off a dog?

Ok, you've most likely heard about the report of an eagle snatching a small pooch from unsuspecting RVers on a pit stop.

Even made us a wee bit verklemp when the report detailed how the husband really loved his wife, hysterical from losing her baby (fill in any small dog breed) in such traumatic fashion.

The man consoles her for the loss and, once corralling her back inside, busts out in celebration, the little mutt that he's seen take inordinate amounts of his wife's attention is finally gone.

An >article on snopes.com debunks birds of prey carrying off small canines as simple urban legend.
Even small dogs are too much for their lift capabilities, which is about 4 pounds max for the largest of birds. But raptors most assuredly do attack pets.

For more on what raptors can and can't do, see Mike Suchan's report in his blog, But I Digress

The new Crockett

Two years ago, a five-year-old boy named Tre Merritt from Dewitt, Ark, made national headlines by shooting and killing a black bear that weighed more than 400 pounds.

It didn't hurt the story that Merritt is the 10th grandson of famous bear killer (among other things) Davy Crockett.

Merritt, nicknamed "Deadeye" by his family for his aim, took his second black bear in early December at the experienced age of 7. Click here to see they youth's impressive hunting record.

On the same tack, a 5-year-old in Livingston, Texas, shot the second-largest alligator taken in the state.

A giant occasion


Launch Gallery

When Mark Zona, host of the World's Greatest Fishing Show on ESPN2, locked down his co-host on the Bassmaster Tour and outdoor television legend Tommy Sanders for his show, he wasn't sure what they would do.

With bass fishing too cliché, Zona wanted to take the hard-to-shop for Sanders on an unusual trip. Bam. Sturgeon fishing on the Hood River in Oregon with guide John Garrett. Hey, a couple 100-pounders would make a good show.

"As we're getting closer to shoot, I'm talking to Garrett, and he's talking about 8 to 12 footers that are weighing 500 to 1,200 pounds," Zona said. "Now you do those eye rolls, like 'Oh, I know where this is heading. It's going to be a train wreck.'"

They might not have realized what they were in for, but made the best of catching the prehistoric giants.

Dynamic dental

Speaking of wild, wacky fish, National Geographic Channel's "Hooked" show hit on anglers chasing far more toothy fare.

The hour-long show, "Vampire Fish," took viewers on a jaunt around the world looking at hard-core anglers' attempts to reel in fish with serious chompers.

The fish from the show's title are Payara, which have two daggers protruding from their bottom jaw. Freaky.

Solo catch of 900-pound tuna

How about this feat for wild?

Ralph Wilkins, 50, headed out solo on a late November morning from Chatham, Mass., for one last trip before the bluefin season ended.

His long day ended in darkness, after he battled and brought in a 900-pound bluefin tuna by himself.

"I was 40 miles out off the coast of the Cape there by myself," he said, "and I got a 900-pounder tied to the side of the boat, now what do you do?"

Bowhunting for pythons


Monster python pics

You're sitting in your tree stand, arrow knocked and bow ready for action when suddenly you spot your quarry.

It's a Burmese python, and it's a big one. As the 14-foot serpent comes slithering along the ground beneath you, you slowly turn toward it and pull back the bowstring in one smooth motion.

Then, when you reach full draw, you settle your 20-yard pin on the snake's ... Where the heck do you settle your pin on a python?

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) expanded its most recent python eradication efforts on state lands to include all hunters, beginning with archers participating in bowhunts in the southernmost end of the state, ground zero for the humongous serpents. See Colin Moore's report here.

Odds on albino deer

Reader Tim Roeschlein of Wahkon, Minn., sent in the above photo wondering what are the odds of seeing four albino deer.

Wildlife biologist George Mayfield couldn't hazard a guess, but explained how it this could happen.

"It's a freak of nature." Mayfield said. "It's a matter of probability and genetics. It's really part of the evolutionary process. And double recessive genes express themselves in different ways."

Read about the genetic anomaly and what Mayfield had to say here.