Where Only the Deer Go

by Danielle Hanna

Deer trail in the river bottom

Last week gave us a preview of spring weather, so Molly and I got ready for a long hike. Didn’t exactly end up where we thought we would …

We walked down to the river–our intended destination. At that point, the plan was to turn around and go home. But as I stood on the bank overlooking the water, I got a little tinge of home sickness. One of the things I miss about my old town–like, on a daily basis–is our favorite park.

That park had a nice paved trail, but more often than not, Molly and I could be found on the dirt trails, climbing the hills and weaving through the trees and exploring around the creek. (And falling in once. Another story for another time.)

I missed having a little bit of wilderness so close to my front door. So far, I hadn’t found anything quite like it in my new town.

Molly and I started poking along the river bank. Trying to satisfy our wilderness cravings.

And that’s when we found it. A faint track in the grass. It ran through the river bottom, between the water and the steep river banks.

So of course, we followed it.

I studied the snow on the trail. Deer prints. One set of dog prints. But mine were the first human prints.

This was looking pretty sweet. A deer track. Molly and I could have the whole place to ourselves.

It led us through a forest of cottonwood trees, tall and straight and smelling like a hundred years of earth. A wood pecker rapped on a trunk and somewhere over the river, a flock of geese honked.

I had a feeling Molly and I would be coming here a lot. (Exact location shall forever remain undisclosed.)

We stepped out into a meadow–and suddenly learned we weren’t alone.

A sound like a bird screaming. A flash of white. A crash in the woods on the edge of the meadow.

Deer!

I froze. Molly strained at the end of her leash with one paw in the air, thinking for a second she was a pointer.

Then just as quickly as the deer had turned to flee … they stopped. Looked back. One of them still held her tail upright, fluffed like a startled cat. She stared at me. Then dropped her tail and wagged it sheepishly.

“Oh,” she seemed to say, “I thought you were somebody else.”

She started sneaking toward me. Trying to get a closer look. Creeping from tree to tree, as if I didn’t know she was there. We stared at each other in equal fascination.

Deer in the Cottonwoods

Molly glanced at me and whined, then sat down without being asked, and stomped her paw. That was a proud moment for me, knowing Molly’s penchant for chasing deer. (Also another story for another time.) But being good was definitely killing her.

Despite Molly’s tense energy and keen eye (she was clearly saying, “I wanna eatcha”), the little group of deer stayed put. I saw another one peek out from the trees. Then another one. Five all together.

I couldn’t believe they weren’t running away from us.

In fact … they went back to grazing. They even started coming out into the meadow.

Deer in the meadow

Just as if Molly and I weren’t there at all.

We watched the deer for about half an hour. Molly was amazing. She never barked. Only whined once or twice. And she sat and stayed like a good girl. But she was obviously waiting for the part where we spring out at them and chase them down.

Instead, when we had lingered long enough, we turned around and quietly walked away. This was their home, and I was honored they’d let us visit. I looked back over my shoulder to see if our exit raised a fuss. Nope. They didn’t even lift their heads.

Molly and I have since gone back and visited our new friends again. I think we’ll be seeing a lot of each other.

Pawnotes from Molly

Molly in the river bottomThis is some new form of torture! My girl doesn’t get it! Deer are for chasing! Just like sticks and bunny rabbits! Someone, please set her straight!

But it makes my girl ultra-happy when I sit quietly while we visit the deer. Sigh. So torn …

 

 

 

4 thoughts on “Where Only the Deer Go

  1. Nice! That reminds me of the park out my back yard. I think I mentioned the girl scout Camp Neche to you before? Did you get a chance to look up Cross Creek and Marjorie K Rawlings? She was a famous writer from that area. Let me know what you think. Take care. Larry

    • Yes, I looked up Marjorie K Rawlings. I am, of course, familiar with the title The Yearling, though I sadly haven’t read it yet. Now maybe I’ll have to. I was also very interested to hear about Rawlings’ farm, Cross Creek, and the small community she wrote about. Sounds like my kind of place!

  2. Oh Yeah! I would love read your thoughts on the special needs animals at rescue shelters. Chippy! How do they get a chance for a forever home? I’m sure there is a way for them besides me taking them all home. Ha! Will look forward to your thoughts. Thanks, Larry

    • You know I always welcome new blog post ideas! Thanks for bringing this topic up. My first response is that, of course, you should go adopt all the special needs pets. Who could possibly offer them a better home? LOL. But for a practical answer, I’m going to have to think over my response …

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