I’ve seen deer many times before, as I’m sure most people have. But I’d wager that few people – aside from hunters – who stumble upon them in their natural habitat are able to spend an hour observing their behavior. Most often, encounters are brief and result in the best view being that of the deer’s rear as it hops away.
Yesterday, I came across two baby white-tailed deer who were foraging carelessly, and though they initially ran a few yards away, they gradually became comfortable with my presence – most likely because I was downwind. The creatures were beautiful, taking time to chew until they were spooked and moved past me to a bed of pine straw below some larger trees. It was here that they alternately moved about eating and taking breaks to lie down and ruminate. At one point a squirrel even joined in, and the two species relied on each other as an alarm system.
Bugs were clearly bothering the animals, as their ears and tails were flicking constantly. On a couple of occasions, the deer used their hind limbs to scratch. It did occur to me that no adult deer would allow me to be as close as I was for so long a time, and I was soon proved correct. The young deer ran past me again to their approaching mother, and she stared right at me from a distance. She eventually made a noise, and the three ran to a safer distance where she could still survey me. She made another call and left; while one baby followed her, the other ran back toward me, to the pine area where the pair had rested before. It stood momentarily, then made a call of its own and ran off into the forest.
I hope the group reunited, and I hope I didn’t make them afraid to go back to that area. If they knew of my distaste for venison, perhaps they would be a bit more trusting. I even saw a turtle on my way out of the woods…It was a good day.