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Bob Bowman's East Texas

Mystery Solved

by Bob Bowman
Bob Bowman

They solved a big mystery near Grapeland, in Houston County, a few weeks ago.

Yep, the lingering mystery of the purple deer droppings has been unraveled, according to Grapeland Messenger writer Wayne Fears.

It all began when a hunter well call Jim went to his favorite oak tree during the first day of bow-hunting deer season.

As Jim scanned the woods with his binoculars, he saw on the forest floor something he had never seen before.

Climbing out of his deer stand, Jim started studying the ground. As the sun rose, he saw purple deer droppings glistening in the daylight.

Naturally, he was puzzled. All of the deer droppings he had seen in a lifetime of hunting were, for a lack of a better description, a different hue.

So Jim kept walking and exploring the purple deer droppings, hoping to find the deers food source, which might explain the purple droppings.

As he approached a forest clearing, where all of the trees had been cut, Jim found the answer.

The clearing was covered in staghorn sumac and poke weed. Or, as its known in the South, poke sallet.

Both plants produce reddish and purple berries.

When Jim saw the plants, he realized that, because the acorn crop had failed, the deer had switched to a diet of sumac and poke weed, two highly nutritious and palatable deer foods that are among the first plants to regenerate on the ground after a clear cut or forest burn.

After solving the mystery of the purple deer droppings, Jim walked back down the deer trail and found a spot about 20 yards away from the edge of the clear cut area.

He hung up his deer stand and, later in the day, he took a fat, white-tailed buck with eight points, probably filled with the plants that resulted in the mystery of the purple deer droppings.

Bob Bowman's East Texas September 5, 2010Column.
A weekly column syndicated in 109 East Texas newspapers

See Texas Animals | Texas People | Texas | Texas Travel
(Bob Bowman of Lufkin is the author of 44 books about East Texas history and folklore. He can be reached at bob-bowman.com)
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By Bob and Doris Bowman
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