|A white-tailed doe deer skull preserved by yours truly. (8/26/14)|
Each cross-country preseason, the student-athletes and coaches, travel to the courses we will be competing on during the regular season. Last Tuesday, while running with members of the girls team, we went slightly of course at Mendon Ponds Park, and came across the remains of a decomposed deer carcass. Half-joking, I told the girls I would be coming back later to retrieve the bones. Though it took me a few days, this past weekend, while on an early morning bottle return run, I drove back to Mendon and, searched back through the trails we had run earlier in the week.
|The doe remains as we came across them. (8/23/14)|
|The skull--sans jawbone--as it lay just off the trail. (8/23/14)|
My second thought was the activity: to determine the most practical way to preserve the skull, my thinking being that it would be an interesting display piece in my classroom. In the practices that followed, our engagement with the remains had now become part of one of an interesting cross-country anecdote. I am by no means a scientist and this post should not be read as set of how-to directions (though I frame it just that way!), but I do often pick up odd activities just to see where they go, and this is just the most recent flight of fancy. In a way, it relates back to a previous one. A number of years ago I took the hunting gun safety certification course because it seemed (and was interesting). One reason I've never pursued the hobby is the fear that I might actually (through luck rather than skill) kill something and would then be obligated to field dress it. One benefit of finding this gift-wrapped (and meat free) skull on the cross-country trail was the opportunity to look into the preservation of animal skulls and to give it a go...
|In its original condition at the bottom of a bucket. (8/23/14)|
|A quick, cleansing boil. (8/23/14)|
|All the goodies necessary for a 24 hour hydrogen peroxide bath. (8/23/14)|
|Boiled, gently scrubbed and ready for "bleaching." (8/23/14)|
|The first of two coats of polyurethane semi-gloss lacquer is applied. (8/24/14)|
Tomorrow, as I continue setting up my classroom for the start of school next week, I will bring the skull to work. Among the books, team photos and artificial crows it is sure to give students, as well as student-athletes, (and myself) something to talk and think about.