On Monday, thousands of readers visited our website to look at the odd trail camera photo that seemed to show a large predator chasing a deer in the Maine town of Wayne.
Tongue-in-cheek, I called it the “Wayne werewolf,” and asked you to tell me what you saw.
Man, did you tell me.
At the end of that blog post, I also hinted that we knew a bit more about the photo than we were sharing.
But I left out a bit of the tale. Fact is, we had two other photos taken by the same camera within a minute of the first, and those subsequent photos help make the situation much clearer. And as I pointed out on Monday, we’d share those two pictures with readers later this week.
Here’s the full story: When BDN staffers stared at the photo that Gordon Karlgren sent to me, many had the same reaction that some readers did. It had to be a predator. After all, the shadowy “werewolf” (or whatever it was) was clearly chasing a deer.
Some of us focused on the back leg of the trailing animal and thought its rear leg looked remarkably similar to that of the spike horn buck that it was chasing. Deer? We wondered.
Then my colleague, assistant sports editor Pete Warner, threw another wrinkle into the mystery.
“Zoom in on that,” he told me, pointing at the supposed predator. He stared hard for a second, then gave his conclusion. “It’s another deer with its head down,” he said. “Look close. You can see it.”
Squinting, I could. Almost. Kind of.
Then Warner looked closely at the rest of the photo and told me to focus on a spot to the left of the lead deer.
“And another thing, he said, tapping the computer monitor. “There’s another deer lying down right behind that tree. A buck.”
Warner was right … and many of our readers also noticed that second (or third) deer sitting on the grassy knoll.
That reclining deer seemed pretty relaxed. And if the first deer was actually being chased by a large canine predator, that didn’t seem to make much sense to any of us. If, on the other hand, the first deer was being chased by another deer?
Well, that would change everything, wouldn’t it?
I sent another email to Karlgren, the Massachusetts hunter who sent us the original photo. I asked him if he and his friends had noticed the deer that was lying behind the tree.
“Wow!” he responded, just minutes later. “I didn’t notice the change from picture to picture. I’m going to send you the next two pictures from the game cam. You’ll notice that there’s deer still moving around during the same stamp. The second picture shows the deer looking to the right of the picture, [as] if the other deer is still being chased.”
We looked at those photos and saw something different than Karlgren did (although, I suppose, Karlgren could be correct in thinking the deer on the far right is looking off into the distance, watching a still unfolding chase).
My read on the final two photos: In the second, you can clearly see that a deer, likely the one that was lying behind the tree, has stood up and is facing away from the camera. You can also see a deer on the right, not far from where the deer that was being chased had stood.
That deer on the right, I think, was the mystery beast we jokingly called the “Wayne werewolf.” The small buck he was chasing is no longer visible on the photo.
And in the third photo, the deer on the right, our original chaser, is cocking his head off-camera, looking to see if the first deer is going to return, as the third deer — the one that had been lying down — moves into the action.
In all, 32 readers voiced their opinion that the “werewolf” was actually a deer. We agree.
But if the 12 who said it was some kind of canine (including the two “Game of Thrones” fans who called it a direwolf) or the five who saw a bear, or the three who saw a wild pig want to stick to their conclusions, that’s fine with me.
Thanks for taking the time to look. And thanks to Gordon Karlgren for sharing his photos with BDN readers.
The final unanswered question: Did Karlgren take a deer this year? It certainly looked like he was hunting in the right spot.
Follow John Holyoke on Twitter: @JohnHolyoke