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Leave Wildlife WILD

March 16, 2012

I was reading a Post from our friend Sue Tabor from “Outdoor Beginnings” & the BOW program with the DNR. She relayed an article from the DNR that talked about leaving baby critters alone. That what may look like an abandoned Deer, let’s say, is most likely not what it appears. That brought to mind a story I still remember as if it happened yesterday………

About 14 years ago, I was drawing up my first Mapbook draft. So almost ever evening or late afternoon, I headed for a large Pine tree stand that bordered some beautiful rolling meadows near my home. I went to the same spot under the Pine trees and sat on the soft needles, while I edited the Mapbook.

Seems this was a great place for Mom deer to bring her two fawns to graze and play in the Meadow, with deep Pine tree cover near by. At first Mom was leery of me and kept her youngsters either away from me or under close surveillance. But as each day went on, she realized I was not there to cause harm to her youngsters or herself.

So after a month or so, the youngsters would run to within 30 feet of where I was sitting and back to Mom’s side. All in fun and with no concern from Mom any longer. This went on for the entire Spring and most of the Summer months, as I returned very consistently, almost every late afternoon, to sit in the same spot and work.

The next year, in the Spring, I was editing another work in progress. This time I picked a little knoll that overlooked a stream in the area, not to far from the Meadow I had spent so much time in, the year before.

One late afternoon, while I sat on a log and edited away, I was suddenly startled by a sound very close to where I was sitting. There, approaching me directly, and wagging it’s tail, was one of the fawns I had watched all spring & summer the year before. I cannot tell you exactly how I knew this, other then I recognized him. He recognized me too.

I believe he was coming over to say Hi or greet me or something along the lines of…..Hey…..I remember You…..Mom said you where OK. I watched as he came directly towards me, tail wagging, and I swear he was smiling. There was calm in the air and no danger was present at all. I knew this deer was going to come all the up to me if I let him. I wanted to let him. But at the same time I realized I would be training him to be OK with humans. This would not be a good thing for his long term survival.

So at the last minute, when he was about 20 yards from me, I shooed him. He stopped, almost startled by my behaviour. I had to shoo him again before he turned around and walked to the top of the adjoining hilltop. He stopped there, looked at me for a minute or so, and then walked slowly away, over the small ridge. He appeared to  be puzzled by my actions and the whole experience.

For a moment I was sad. I had made a friend the year before and this deer trusted me enough to approach me the following year. And what did I do….scare him away. But then I realized that I scared him into a longer life. A life in which he remained a wild critter, and not one that felt comfortable enough to possibly approach another human.

Wild is meant to be wild. That’s part of what we enjoy in the Wilderness and why it exists as Wilderness. A picture of Mom and the two fawns is on the rear cover of that Mapbook I worked on that year.

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