Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Hello, Deer!

Not a typo.  I'm talking about deer today.  Our deer.  Yes, I know technically we don't own them.  We can't even keep them contained on our property in all likelihood, but I feel proprietary about our little deer family.  This past summer we watched a very pregnant doe standing near a patch of willows, just north of our training field, near the pond. The next day, there she was with tiny twins.  Since that day, they seem to have made this area their home base.  We often see them moving between the fields and our driveway, very comfortable with the daily noises of dogs and machines.  In fact, they are apparently amused and will stand and watch the dog training!   Yesterday, as we were doing open field searches, the trio stood on the lane.  Dogs were barking, people yelling and yet there was no panicked flight, no white flags of fear.  Last night when I returned from training off the property, around 9 pm, they were standing in the driveway and moved off to the side so that I could pass.  We don't feed them, so there is no unnatural attraction to the area but I like to think they feel safe. We have a pond, creek, nice cover and alfalfa/clover, and are surrounded by corn fields so I think it is pretty much a deer heaven.  I dislike baiting, whether for entertainment or hunting. It changes the natural patterns and turns the deer into feedlot animals, moving nocturnally from bait pile to bait pile.   Natural selection would indicate that losing fear is not good for survival.  They aren't tame, just habituated.  I support deer hunting; I just don't want MY deer killed!  I heard a shot this morning and my first thought was, I hope that wasn't one of the family. Frankly, they probably are in greater danger of being hit and killed on the highway but I hope they avoid cars and bullets at least until they leave their Momma.  After that, I have the ability to appreciate venison and will give thanks to the land that supported them to provide food for our table.  Just don't kill the babies or leave them without a mother for the winter!