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WOODS ‘N’ WATER: An all-too-real and deadly game to play

WOODS ‘N’ WATER: An all-too-real and deadly game to play


“There’s a dead skunk in the middle of the road and it stinks to high heaven!”

Believe it or not these were the words of a song many moons ago, but it does have a ring of truth to it.

But in is not only skunks taking the brunt of motor vehicles. So are a whole host of smaller wild critters.

In my travels around the area, I have never seen as many dead small wildlife on our roads as I have this year. Squirrels lead the list with skunks, woodchucks and rabbits also being slaughtered on our road and highways.

Most off the time their deaths are the result of drivers going too fast. The critter darts out, gets hit and is left crippled or dying a painful death.

And I can’t believe the number of opossums I have seen dead on our roads this year. To me, this is rather rare.

There was a time that opossums were almost non-existent here in the more northern part of the state. In fact, the first possum I ever saw was taken by my kid brother Pete, who ran a trap line on the Quinnipiac River back in the late ‘40s.

Then a kid down the street from us captured one alive and it even made the local newspaper.

So what about opossums? Have you ever seen one? They are basically a nocturnal animal. It has a white face and pink nose with black eyes, black ears that are often white-rimmed.

A possum’s tail is long and nearly hairless and looks almost rat-like. It is also the only mammal in North America that has a tail that can be used for grasping.

According to the research material I have, the opossum was once only found in southern states, but has been expanding its range every year.

The life span of an opossum is about three years, though some in captivity have lived as long as seven years.

It is thought that the opossum is primarily a scavenger. While that’s not totally true, they will eat whatever is available. They do eat insects, but when winter time arrives, mice, ground-nesting birds, rabbits, shrews and moles become part of a opossum’s diet.

Have you ever heard the term “playing possum?” I have seen it on a couple of occasions and it is really weird.

Believe it or not, they feign being dead and lie motionless and stiff. If left alone, they will “come back to life” and go on their way.

We are told that the opossum has only two speeds: slow and very slow. This includes trying to cross a roadway.

Man is the principle enemy to the opossum, especially when it is crossing a dark highway. Being slow and, at times, even dimwitted, an opossum gets blinded by the lights of an oncoming vehicle and meets its end.

Today, it seems like some drivers will not even bother to stop for a human being in the road, never mind an animal like a possum.

At first glance, an opossum hardly looks like good table fare, but as that old saying goes, “You can’t tell a book by its cover,” the same goes for wild game.

I have learned that during the Depression, in many of the poor sections of the south, the opossum was hunted for its meat as well as its fur.

Here in our area, my main gripe is that motorists who hit a wild critter while driving too fast never even stop to see if the critter they hit is truly dead or is crippled and will die a slow lingering death. Slow down and brake for wildlife!

Fishing update

In a recent talk with Paul “Chief” Nowakowski he told me that he has had some good fishing at Lake Saltonstall. On a recent trip, he came away with a nice walleye and some really huge calico bass (crappie).

Saltonstall is managed by the Regional Water Authority. Access is by permit only and there is a boat launch area, BUT only rowboats with an electric motor are available to be rented on site.

Nowakowski also said that Patagansett Lake in East Lyme has been yielding some nice catches of calico bass.

While on one of our evening cruises, Edna and I had the pleasure of running into Skip Sauer.

You might remember the name because I have written about Skip fishing with his granddaughters Emmy and Sydney many times at Mirror Lake in Hubbard Park.

Over the years, it was nothing for Skip and the girls to hook up with some monster carp, but it was the other fish species like trout and perch that really go the girls excited.

Oh, did I mention largemouth bass? Skip sent me a photo of Sydney with a largemouth bass caught in Mirror Lake that tipped the scales at 6½ pounds.

While her catch does not surprise me, the fact that so many folks are passing up the chance to fish this awesome spot does surprise me.

The girls have moved away, but Skip still seems to be doing pretty good fishing local waters for largemouth bass and trout. He took a brown trout out of Black Pond that tipped the scales at over 4 pounds.

See ya’ and God Bless America and watch over our troops, police, firefighters and first responders wherever they may be serving this great country of ours.