The fur post might have been the coolest thing I saw, but it was not the strangest. That honor belongs to a plucky little ruffed grouse who made his home along a 1000-year-old portage between the Brule and St. Croix Rivers. My dad and I were walking the trail when this runt jumps out and starts strutting and fanning in front of me like he's some old, proud tom turkey. Now for those of you who don't know, a ruffed grouse is a game bird that weighs about a pound, maybe a pound and a half. I used to hunt them when I lived in Minnesota - they never strutted but they would loudly burst out of the snow behind you and fly away, and by the time you caught your breath from the scare they were safely buried somewhere else.
So here's this little turkey about the size of my fist spreading and strutting and squawking until I stop for a look, then he flops off into the brush and continues to make a racket. My best guess is that he was probably trying to distract me from a nearby nest. I'm not sure if male grouse do that sort of thing, but I was certain he was trying to get my attention, and just as certain he expected me to follow him. At least for a little while.
Sorry, bird, I've got more important things to do. Like thank God I don't have to lug a birch bark canoe across 17 miles of northern wilderness to get to work like the Voyageurs did**.
* I suppose it's not unlike Taco Bell following McDonald's around and building one of their own restaurants as close as possible.
** One the way back, Dad and I passed a mother black bear standing on the side of the road with her three cubs in tow. I am also thankful that she was not on the trail, nor trying to attract my attention.