Find deer sheds in the Appalachian woods

I’m talking about deer sheds, not tool sheds.

When you hear the word “shed,” you probably think of the shack that sits in the back of your property where you store your gardening tools and whatnot. You may conjure up a little house with a smokestack and old barn wood siding where a hunter might stop for a break.

If you think Appalachian bears are big animals, you haven’t seen anything yet. The grandest of all the mountains, the majestic elk, is the master of the mountains. Though their numbers have dwindled over the years, you still have a good chance of spotting an elk in the fall, when many leaf lookers take to the hills.

Appalachian owls are a mystifying breed.

When asked about owls, most people mention the easily recognizable soft cooing heard at dawn or dusk. Others describe the wide-open pair of golden yellow eyes the birds possess or their ability to turn their heads 180 degrees. But aside from nature shows, most people who live in or visit Appalachia won’t get to know these mysterious birds nearly as well as other animals.


close up of sunflower
Sunflowers offer beauty and nutrition from a single flower. They grace the yards of neighborhood gardeners and grow wild in mountain fields. They adorn everything from shower curtains to summer dresses. They usually evoke big smiles. And in 1987, an anonymous buyer forked over more than $39 million for a Vincent van Gogh painting of them. Of course, we’re talking about sunflowers.
Go see the beauty in the little beasts Virginia is known as the birthplace of the nation, home to George Washington and Thomas Jefferson. Virginia also has the first English settlement on the continent, a little fort called Jamestown. But Virginia is perhaps best known as the place for lovers, as its advertising campaign went viral long before anyone knew what “going viral” meant.
You may think that California and the Far East are the places most at risk for earthquakes, but the mountains of the Appalachians have had their share of earth-shattering quakes throughout history. And researchers predict the Eastern mountain range is ripe for more. A magnitude 2.4 earthquake hit the mountains of North Carolina around Boone and Blowing Rock in August 2014, and an earthquake of magnitude 2.9 struck the same location in August 2013. A magnitude 5.8 quake shook the mountains of Virginia in 2011. Roanoke Rapids and Lenoir, NC, experienced earthquakes in June 2015, at magnitudes of 2.3 and 3.0 respectively.
Native and transplant Appalachians alike agree that the best way to go through life is to share. We share our bounty and our hand-me-down recipes. We share the road and share the trails. And, to stay safe and mountain-friendly, we share our space with humans and critters alike -- including bears. You may see bears roaming mountain cities and towns, but that’s usually only by accident or when the bears are hungry or thirsty. They are great hunters and foragers, so, more often than not, their appearances in your yard or in the neighborhood park are due mainly to drought or food shortages in their forest habitats.
Along the Appalachian Trail, you can encounter many types of animals and birds. While smaller animals are more commonplace, clever foxes usually remain out of sight. It’s not that they aren’t curious; it’s that they’re cautious. Appalachian foxes have grown wary of humans. You still may surprise a fox in the wild, but they’ll seem more afraid of you than you are of them.

Crayfish are among the many species under attack by extensive development and mining in the Southern Appalachians.

Because the Southern Appalachians never glaciated, the region contains some of the most bio-diverse plant, animal and insect life outside of the tropical rainforests. Many species, including humans, have thrived in the mountains’ consistently high-quality environmental conditions.Crayfish species

Tried and true folk remedies Early Appalachian settlers didn’t have access to health care. The nearest town with a real doctor might be days away, so they had to rely on themselves and whatever nature provided. As a result, they learned to make use of the natural medicines they found around them: roots, leaves, bark, flowers, fruit and seeds made into salves and tinctures. Even today, many Appalachian natives prefer to administer their own remedies rather than trust a doctor’s care.