Outdoors Column: A Storm on the Horizon

Thursday evening, a thunderstorm was predicted by the people that have been telling us all summer that it was going to rain. One time this summer, they said we were under a flash flood watch. We did not get enough rain to settle the dust that day. Things were different on Thursday. I was watching wildlife as I drove home and later when I sat on the porch.


Driving home from work, I saw more deer in the last few miles before our place than I have seen during every trip combined of the last month. Every deer in the area was out eating. I knew a storm must be brewing. Animals can detect a change in barometric pressure which forewarns them of changes in the weather. Perhaps people can sense it also, we just do not pay attention, relying instead on the weather person on television that is wrong at least fifty percent of the time. Animals have a much higher degree of accuracy when it comes to predicting impending storms. With a significant drop in pressure, animals will feed in case  the approaching storms last for a day or two. They try to stock up on energy in case they have to hide from the weather, away from their food sources.


Driving down the driveway, five deer watched as I went by. Two does and three fawns were eating furiously, giving me only a casual and disinterested glance. A flock of turkeys scattered at the edge of the timber when I curved toward the house. They had been eating acorns and hickory nuts that have fallen from the trees near the driveway. This is the first large flock of turkeys I have seen since spring.


Later, as my wife and I sat on the porch watching the light fade after sunset, a pair of trumpeter swans and their three signets flew overhead and landed on the lake. They made their way to a quiet cove and also started eating. Everything was making the most of the time before the storm hit.


Later that evening, my wife and I went out on the porch again to watch the storm roll in. Lightening flashed in the distance as the clouds billowed up. Three deer approached the house and started eating acorns, watching us carefully from only a few feet away. The dogs were sound asleep and did not notice the invaders. My wife and I sat quietly, letting the deer eat as many acorns as they wanted. That many acorns makes walking in the yard hazardous, like walking on marbles. A clap of thunder woke the dogs who spotted the deer. The deer bounded off into the darkness before the dogs could get off the porch.


When we went back inside, we decided not to even bother turning on the television to check the weather. The wildlife had made the prediction and by morning, we saw they were correct.