Winchester-Nabu Detective Agency Year Two: Case File No. 46-98
AMBER LOVE 01-APR-2019 Catch up on Year One and previous Year Two cases at the Winchester-Nabu Detective Agency. This work is supported by the generous backers who adore my cat stories at Patreon.com/amberunmasked and they also get first access to what’s happening with my books and podcast. For a one-time tip, you can go to the new PayPal.me.
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Where We Left Off:
There’s no exaggeration in our last case file. Gus discovered a dinosaur. We’d love if any of you experts out there can help us identify it properly.
Previously, I’ve noted that two foxes had been spotted living in the area. I only caught a glimpse of one’s tail as it ran by, but other people have said they’ve seen them. Due to the fair amount of snow we had, I was able to more easily photograph tracks these past few months. I kept hoping that some day I’d see tracks verifying the existence of the foxes or the kitsune, whichever it is.
Although I’m likely to refer a collective group of foxes as a pack like with wolves or dogs, they are called skulks, leash, or earth — those last two sound even more awkward. An earth of foxes? That sounds meaningless — unless you’re talking about a habitable planet where foxes are the dominant species and nature is harmonious like the crystal salt foxes in The Last Jedi. Then I’m on board.
Gus and I came across a clump of hair that I wanted to take into evidence and preserve for analysis. Trying to push hair into static clinging plastic baggies made a mess. The rather pristine clumps are separated. A couple days later we found a similar clump only a few feet away. Then about a month after that, we came across a single strand of hair all the way on the northern border. The northern border is where the bulk of tracks normally appear; sometimes the creatures come up through the middle close to Gnome Grove and Oliver Winchester’s wing of the residence.
The coloring is easier to see in the sunlight. There is a reddish or ruddy spot near the ends; they’re darker in the middle; then white at the other end. The white length is predominant, but it’s the colorful ends that are intriguing.
Species identification is proving difficult because we don’t have a variety of hair samples as we do feather samples. The texture of the fur at first notice felt like rough coated dog hair as opposed to soft horse hair. (Apparently there’s a difference between fur and hair, but just let’s set that aside for now.) I’m sure at some point in my life I’ve stroked a taxidermied white-tailed deer which is part of the Jersey devil-deer hybrid DNA. We visited a wildlife center at some point in my school days for a field trip, but I don’t remember touching a fox specimen. Deer though? People have them all over their walls out here.
If my eyes are misinterpreting the reddish ends and they’re actually tawny brown, then the hair could be from a white-tailed deer or a Jersey devil-deer. Since we’re not experts, I turned to someone who is. Kevin is one of those people with a every wall covered in dead things he hunted. He’s a responsible hunter and though I’m not keen on the black bear hunt, I don’t mind deer hunters when they are not plucking off any from my own backyard. Even through my research for Bear Roots (which all of you should buy and read then leave glowing reviews), I found on the DEP website that there are ways for hunters to donate any extra meat they wouldn’t use themselves.
Anyway, I showed Kevin a photo of the hair. He asked me a couple questions about the texture of it and the condition. He determined the coarseness would make it a white-tailed deer specimen rather than the smooth, silky style of a fox. Since we at the Winchester-Nabu Detective Agency haven’t let him in on our Jersey devil-deer research, I didn’t offer up that as an option. It’s fine for internet friends to think I’m weird for writing about cryptozoology, but not nearly as cool for someone I run into weekly.
I don’t want to leave all that foxy research behind. Since Vodka O’Clock and the blog cover pop culture, it only makes sense that we keep digging this ditch.
I asked the Twitter timeline to vote in a poll since pop culture is filled to the brim with foxy references: Fox Mulder of the X-Files, Foxy Brown (the original with Pam Grier), the foxy Robin Hood of the Disney animation, Michael J. Fox, Redd Foxx, Jamie Foxx, et al. Not to mention, the OG vigilante, Zorro, means “the fox” and he has influenced so many that came after, but most prominent is Batman. To take it further, the fruit bat species are sometimes referred to as the flying fox and they are so damn adorable.
The multiple hair samples discovered in late winter of 2019 are Jersey devil-deer, the first ever known specimens of their kind collected.