The Deer Observer

One of the most pleasant surprises at our new house was our new pets: a fine family of deer who would come to visit every day. Sometimes they would arrive early in the morning and nibble on some of our freshly watered leaves. At other times they would come during the heat of the day and rest in the plant beds under the shade of our trees. Most occasions were just the mother doe and her new fawn (or fawns) but we would sometimes get the entire family.

“I like the trees, you know? I like the way that the trees are on mountains, all the different… the way the trees are.”
Nick, The Deer Hunter

At all times, though, these visits were a special treat! I’ve generally seen deer on the wall or in the freezer in the form of meat, with a rare appearance in the flesh. It was fun watching them from the breakfast table either oblivious to our presence or, more likely, simply immune to it. There are plenty of humans around. What are a few more? I’m fairly certain that our visitors are California mule deer. (We are right at the southern border of the Columbian black-tailed deer’s range, but I don’t think the fur is quite right.)

Our yard, like many, is an oasis in the heat of the dry summer. While the hills are brown and desiccated our yard was watered nightly and relatively lush. The deer are known to hop tall fences in pursuit of tasty treats but in our case they don’t have to: our gate has a giant hole in it and we often don’t bother to even shut it. We’re practically inviting all manner of creatures in to visit!

One sad consequence of our vistors, of course, was the distinct lack of leaves on some bushes and plants. A few of our larger bushes were totally nude below the three foot mark and flowers generally were eaten on the first day they blossomed. We have a few “deer resistant” plants that withstood the onslaught of the visitors but the rest of the yard suffered.

We’ve talked about repairs to the gate to solve the problem or augmenting the landscaping with more deer resistant plants but, truth be told, I think we really enjoy the visits every morning. It’s something to look forward to and a rare look at wildlife right outside our door.

A few less green leaves seems a pretty small price to pay for breakfast with Mother Nature each day.

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