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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