Scat Collection

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Scat Collection- Photo Credit: © Steven Rinella
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In the Texas auodad episode, I mention that I have an animal scat collection. This aroused a few comments from viewers, so I thought I’d provide a little extra information on that subject. My collection got its start some years back when I was hunting spring bears in Montana and found where a coyote had passed out a fawn’s hoof. I took that piece of scat home, dried it out, sprayed it with lacquer, and placed it on a shelf in my house. Not long after that, I found a black bear dropping that contained the claw of a small black bear cub. That piece of scat went on the shelf as well. Soon, I was keeping a constant eye out for interesting pieces of animal dung. I eventually had a grizzly bear scat reflecting a spring diet of grass, a grizzly bear scat reflecting a fall diet of pine nuts, and grizzly bear scat reflecting a summer diet of elk fawn. I had loose whitetail droppings from grass-fed summer animals, as well as clustered droppings from animals that had been feeding on browse. Soon I started adding in some more eccentric specimens: mink, owl, muskrat, beaver, wolf, bobcat, caribou, muskox, Dall sheep, bighorn sheep — even a mountain goat dropping removed from the colon of an animal that was killed by my girlfriend, and a J-shaped turkey dropping taken from beneath the roost tree of a gobbler that I’d just killed.

Eventually, scat storage became an issue; I wanted a display mechanism that gave the scat the treatment it deserved. So, I went to a thrift store and purchased an old coffee table, then built a rim around the edge of the table and topped it with a heavy piece of custom-cut glass. At first I painted the whole thing the yellowish color of the binding on a National Geographic magazine. The accompanying photo was taken back then, when I was living in Missoula, Montana. (At the time, the collection was in disarray.) Today, the scat collection is being curated and housed by my brother in Miles City, Montana. The collection is somewhat fluid, as certain pieces get old and tattered and then get replaced by new pieces. But one thing never changes: many friends have offered to make a contribution of their own personal droppings, but these requests have always been denied.  –Steven Rinella

5 Responses to “Scat Collection”

  1. dave wheelhouse

    love it, I as well take pride in pickin thruogh dung every now end then, its information. But Steven you take it to a new level. Would you concider a Meat Eater Fan dropping to show our true aprieceation for the show,I eat so much venisoin the last time I looked in the toilet I swore I had seen an antler.

  2. woodswoman

    That is one of the more awesome things I have seen from an individual personally. Most people don’t waste their time on scat other than poking it with a toe because it seems valueless when its not. Its like a memory collection because you can remember when, where and the _________ of the places you’ve been and the animals you’ve investigated. If someone finds grief with your chosen pursuit just thank them and tell them to move along. As a teaching tool for others it really does make excrement invaluable. I use to keep a collection of oddities. I could remember the story behind each one. I probably could tell you a good way of rendering the bacteria in the scat to nothing but that would involve a 24 hour vapor treatment with Chemical X. But that is a ‘minimally’ involved procedure. The bacteria is what is slowly eating it.
    Like with me, its a sorts of reconnaissance. Scat can tell you a lot where as most people dismiss it because of the category it is slotted to ~excrement (because this is a cool sounding word). The more random samples you have the better information available to make decisions when hunting or alert you to something quite frankly you need to know. Its great stuff. You can start fires with it, grow mushrooms in it, threaten people with it (don’t quote me on that but who would turn down a cow pie fight especially if you‘re winning?) Dog excrement can be used to tan leather by mixing it with water to form ‘bate’ to relax the hide. It can indicate dietary indiscretions or disease. Its like a handbook for the animal you’re trolling for or the ones its come in contact with. If its there, you know an animal has been there unless you’ve been visited by the Excrement fairies. Tracking them by this method is just as good if not better than high tech equipment. Walking, observing and collecting will win you the day because it helps you with the P’s of life. Prior planning prevents piss poor performance. If you’re not willing to take it all in while scouting your potential hunting domicile~ your hunting time could end in a wasted day. Its extremely valuable if you’re not on your home turf because then you have to figure your strategy on what direction you’re going to take. It’s a part of the bigger scheme of things in your hunting day. Always carry some Ziploc bags and a sharpie. You never know what you might find.
    You could have had a string collection but that wouldn’t be near as interesting.

  3. harv6

    I just don’t know Steven. You seem like a guy that kinda keeps up with the latest gadjets. I know you mentioned you started it years ago, but wouldn’t snapping a pic with a cell phone be a little more reasonable? I get the feeling with that post you might be asked by the National Geographic Channel to make a guest appearance on their show “Taboo”.

  4. heyi

    This is not a weird collection…I’d think that surgeons probably have what one would refer to as “weird”, because what they’d include would be items that ran through a persons’ thought process before entering the digestive tract; but when I read “The collection is somewhat fluid,…” :-0

    I also use scat as part of my recon equation! Happy trails? ;-)
    I use scat-info is part of my recon equation.

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