Outdoors Column: Crisp Autumn Afternoon

Driving up the driveway this morning, I noticed a deer standing right in my path. This is a fairly common occurrence. There frequently are two does and three fawns hanging around the field beside the drive. They are usually polite enough to get out of the way, bounding off with white tails flagging. This morning, the single doe stood her ground. I stopped, waiting for her to move. She stood in the way, looking behind her. I looked down the hill to see what she was watching and saw three bucks coming my way following the doe. The first buck was a large mature buck with quite an impressive set of antlers. The second was a couple years younger and the third and smallest was probably two or three years old. It appeared the old buck was intent on breeding the doe whether she was ready or not. He planned to chase her until she stood still. If he had a heart attack and died, the second buck was there to take his place. I imagine the third buck in line was just hanging around, hoping the first two would get into a fight and he could run off with the doe while they were distracted. That has been known to happen. The strongest does not always win the prize. Sometimes it is the smartest.

 

The doe finally moved off to the side of the driveway. When I slowly drove forward blocking the line of vision between the bucks and does, the largest deer charged up the hill. He did not want to lose sight of the prize, and I thought he was going to run into my truck. I accelerated to get out of his way knowing he probably did not even see me. It is one thing to hit a deer with your vehicle, but I think I was about to get hit by a deer while sitting still. Bucks are not very logical at this time of year.

 

Yesterday, my wife and I were checking trail cameras when a doe jumped up and took off from her bedding location next to the trail. She was trotting away when a buck sprang from the brush nearby. He ran in the same direction out into the pasture. He must have been shadowing her closely or he would have stayed hidden and let us drive by. When we got to the pasture, we saw the pair circle and head back into the timber. They ran just a few yards inside the tree line and stopped to watch as we drove by. We watched them closely to make sure they were not going to make an irrational choice to run out into the pasture in front of us.

 

During the rest of the trip checking cameras, we had no more close encounters with wildlife. We saw a few deer, who stayed where they were as we went by. At the Top Gate, coming back to the house, the blue sky reflected off the lake with seven gleaming white swans swimming along leisurely. The changing autumn leaves made a perfect backdrop that could easily be a painting. The cool breeze blew through the Ranger and the dogs ears flapped in the breeze as he hung his head out the door smelling everything as fast as he could. Though the air was a bit crisp, it was an enjoyable ride through the farm.