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Winchester-Nabu Detective Agency Year Three: Case File No. 28-132

AMBER LOVE 25-NOV-2019 This work is supported by the generous backers who adore my cat stories at and they also get first access to what’s happening with my books and podcast.

Where We Left Off:

In the junkyard, Gus and I discovered that unidentified critters built their own Stonehenge for Samhain.


Last year, Gus and I found some unusual circular patterns in the ground after snow had already fallen. I’ve gone through a year’s worth of photos and can’t find those pictures. I remember where on the trail we saw those. At the time, The Cook said it was probably skunks or squirrels digging around for food. A hunter said it was marks made by white-tailed deer. Little do they know about our discovery of the Jersey devil hybrids with white-tails we call devil-deer. Needless to say, it wasn’t a total surprise when we discovered these strange circular patterns this fall. To me, these patterns looked like mini crop circles. We were possibly visited by very tiny aliens with small drone-sized spacecrafts.

The thing that caught our attention this time was the location. The largest patch Gus, Oliver, and I have investigated so far was about three feet in diameter. This October there was a circular patch with pock marks disturbing the grass and the pattern was at least twice that size if not more.

There’s some video footage in the last slide of the Instagram post from that day:


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Gus and his SuperSmeller™ gathered some information for us to begin investigating. The animals leave scents through their scent glands from their legs using the tarsal glands, inter-digital glands, and others. I found a paper explaining how the male black-tailed deer secretion was analyzed and thought those results might help us in our devil-deer investigation.

There’s a USA Network blog post all about Gus’ best sniffing action!

Using gas chromatography, scientists know that black-tailed deer tarsal gland oil contains a whole lot of stuff. Then molecular mass spectrometry was able to produce the fine details of what the heck all that stuff is. That resulted in a list of possibilities but the results had to be narrowed down. So, hey, a great big thanks to James Ashenhurst and his informative science research on all that. Now we know that male black-tailed deer excrete cis-4-hydroxy dodec-6-enoic acid lactone — and didn’t you always want to know that? Of course you did. It’ll be on Jeopardy and you’ll be the one yelling at the screen, “What is cis-4-hydroxy dodec-6-enoic acid lactone, you dumbass?

meme of deer sniffing other deer and chemical compound
By James Ashenhurst


If a slight melanin variation is all that differs a white-tailed deer from a black-tailed deer along with geography, I don’t think their scent gland chemistry would be all the different. Is Axe Body Spray any different than Dennis Feinstein’s Blackout?

Taking another leap — would the gland scent of Jersey devil hybrids vary significantly from white-tailed deer? My guess is they would. Jersey devils are also woodland creatures but in our geographic region, they also have been driven to underground lairs. Lair is a bit of a misnomer — they’re complete cities built of burrows and caves.

We don’t exact metrics for the size and weight of the devil-deer because honestly, that involves math. If someone wants to volunteer their skills I have photographs of measuring tapes next to hoof tracks in the dirt, mud, and snow. We also don’t have accurate information about the lifespan and mortality rates. Are the hybrids infertile as so many hybrids are? Does a Jersey devil need to mate with a white-tailed deer in order to reproduce the hybrids or are there enough devil-deer out there with an ability to reproduce? How cute would those fawns be?

silver-backed chevrotain, a tiny "mouse-deer" native to Vietnam
Silver-backed chevrotain, a tiny “mouse-deer” native to Vietnam which hadn’t been sighted in 100 years!


Let’s look at another discovery to support our hypothesis about the hybrids. The mouse-deer species called the silver-backed chevrotain was thought to be hunted to extinction. It’s a mammal from southest Asia. In 2018, there was finally photographic evidence that some still existed. However, that doesn’t eliminate the fact that some forests are called Silent Forests because all their inhabitants were hunted leaving a nonexistent animal ecosystem with only the plant life left. It’s a sign of what could happen to humans. Perhaps the insects thrive, but don’t expect much else. Thanks to the journalism of Cathleen O’Grady, we know more about the work of field biologist An Nguyen in southeast Asia and the possible population numbers of the mouse-deer. Hopefully, conservationists will overrule hunters.

Case Findings:

Gus filled Oliver and I in with the details of his sniffing data. It’s not alien. Gus says it is definitely from a mammal with even number toes in their hooves which means artiodactyla order. He said the musky order does not smell exactly the same as the white-tailed tracks we’ve investigated previously. One or more local devil-deer have been making these strange circles in the ground. We don’t know if we should be concerned that the largest patch was so close to the house.

Case Status: Closed


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