Is it just me, or are male deer out and about more this year?
Even during that stretch of 98-degree days (that was reminiscent, in a not-so-good way, of what Bill Murray went through in that movie Ground Hog Day) and especially since that recurring weather nightmare finally ended, I have seen more bucks through my car windows than you can shake a Remington bolt-action Model 700 at (I’ve been doing some rifle homework…).
Maybe it has to do with timing, but maybe it also has to do with the places I frequent on and around the Ozark Plateau. But whatever the reason, I’m getting lots of looks at deer with hardware up top.
And it’s such a blessing.
Every time I cross paths with a deer, I can’t help but get a jolt of excitement. They have such a majestic presence. And the way they hop fences like they’re stepping over a rock and that stare they have as they stand still and flick their tails around – great stuff.
Whether it’s Jane Doe or Buck Rogers doesn’t so much matter, they’re all cool. But the boys with the headgear are something really special, and my wife and I have recently seen more than a few.
We took a day trip to Van Buren to check out Big Spring and with the sun down as we left we drove through a group of deer that included a pair of antlered models.
As we were out for a sight-seeing drive on some dirt roads in east Texas County that we hadn’t been on before, a big (we’re talking very large here) buck with a huge rack comes out of nowhere and misses by an inch smashing into the side of our car and ruining all of our days. But no sooner had he jumped the barbed wire fence on his way to, well, I have no idea where in the Sam Hill he thought he was going, he jumped right back over it and disappeared into the field from whence he came.
It happened so fast, all I could do was say “whoa!” (never moved the steering wheel, didn’t hit the brake).
It was eerie; my wife said it was like this deer changed course in mid-air.
Maybe he did. At least that would explain how he miraculously avoided having his wonderful coat marred by a bunch of crunched metal and broken glass.
He probably didn’t, but he at very least performed a touch-and-go landing that any F-18 pilot would have to admire.
But the highlight of the way the men have been bucking the trend of late by decreasing their camo and increasing their cameos is the actions of this one six-pointer in our ultra-rural, one house neighborhood.
He apparently loves to be seen and on almost a daily basis makes himself noticeable alongside the long dirt road leading to our remote hideaway.
Perhaps he hasn’t yet had a run-in with the business end of a rifle and therefore hasn’t developed a fear of humans. But maybe he just likes to flaunt his coolness.
In any case, I’ve seen this guy more than a dozen times now, both in the morning and evening. He often hangs out with one or both of a skittish doe and a younger dude that still has peach fuzz on his little rack.
But he also seems to deerly enjoy his alone time and it was on one occasion when he was going solo that we had a particularly memorable encounter.
Driving home from work one evening, I come around the last bend to where there’s a straightaway of a couple of hundred yards. There’s Charles Buckley, about half way between me and our driveway.
He doesn’t move. I start moving my car slowly forward. He stands his ground for a while and then starts walking (upright, with loads of confidence) right toward me.
Car going one way, deer going the other, distance between them getting shorter by the moment. I’ll never forget it.
When we were about 30 feet apart, he tired of my persistence and popped over the adjacent five-strand fence. Then he just stood and looked at me. I stop, roll down my window and say “good to see you again neighbor.”
Annoyed by my yacking, he loped along the fence line for a while, with me pacing him in the car. Then he turned 90 degrees and disappeared into the bush.
“See you later,” I said, knowing it was true.
Maybe seeing gray foxes, red foxes, bald eagles, bobcats or great blue herons gets your juices flowing (I’ve been fortunate enough to see them all at some point in 2010). Maybe it makes your day to hear a pack of yipping coyotes on a moonlit night that you can tell is in the pasture just over the road.
Or maybe there’s a familiar buck in your neck of the woods, too.
I’d say our proximity to wildlife is just one of the many bonuses that goes with living around here. Having the chance to view any or all of these critters right in our own backyard, so to speak, is realizing an opportunity that many people will unfortunately never share.
The closest gallon of milk is 10 miles from our house, but the nearest deer might be only a few yards away.
I’ll take that.
Doug Davison is a writer, photographer and newsroom assistant for the Houston Herald. Email: email@example.com.