My corner of the world is paradise. My cabin sits in a clearing among huge ponderosa pines and Douglas fir trees. A creek babbles along through a small gully and the birds sing as they build their nests. Squirrels chatter as they scramble from tree top to tree top and bears stop to sniff the air. The sweet scent of wood smoke drifts lazily along the breeze and hawks call from the sky as they circle the clearing on outstretched wings. Visitors to my little cabin in the Southern Colorado Rocky Mountains “OOOHHH and AHHH” as a herd of mule deer daintily tip toe across the yard. “Beautiful!” they exclaim. “You are so lucky.”
I throw rocks.
I have to admit they are beautiful. Few things can make you catch your breath in excitement like a majestic buck with a rack of regal antlers. Weighing in at over two-hundred pounds of muscle and bone, mule deer bucks are large, powerful animals and they know it. Moving with a measured dignity they hold their heads high as if they are the sovereigns of all they survey.
And of course, those fawns that show up every spring…unbelievably cute. They have long delicate legs that seem to go every which way as they try to navigate the brush. Their shadowy coats covered with spots, and those eyes that seem to melt your heart make the babies seem innocent and sweet. Sometimes I just want to snuggle them up in my lap and kiss the fawns’ velvet noses.
The gentle does that nudge their offspring along are a picture of harmony. It is hard not to sigh with pleasure as they walk past.
I watch Bambi and his mother stroll by in the flesh. And I throw rocks.
Because the lovely deer are really large, voracious rats with hooves that eat everything in sight!
My lilacs can’t bloom because the deer eat the tips off every branch.
The rats with hooves decimate the apple trees before I can taste the fruit.
The daisies, geraniums and tulips don’t stand a chance.
They have pruned the raspberries to the ground and I can’t find the grape vine.
The chard ready to pick?
The peas? Tomatoes? (The leaves of tomatoes are toxic, does that stop them? Oh, no.)
The walking stomachs nosh on the oak trees, devour the new spruce tree needles, rip out the lettuce and munch on the honeysuckle.
The deer feast upon everything I plant except the daffodils and the iris. They ignore them because daffodils and irises are quite poisonous, even to rats with hooves.
The four-footed, furry feeding machines also ignore the tall, succulent grass. This forces me to cut the grass; working myself into a hot, sweaty stupor. Why don’t they eat the grass? They are herbivores, are they not?
Deer! HAH! Rats, big rats with hooves and pretty eyes, that’s what deer are.
I have been given many bits of advice and I have tried them all. I build fences, drape netting everywhere, spray smelly deer repellents and hang bars of soap around. I send my dog out to bark madly. I yell, throw rocks and stomp around while waving my arms like I am demented. I leave the radio on at top volume. I run a chain saw and throw firewood.
The deer gaze at me solemnly and chew on my violets.
The large four-legged bottomless stomachs love it if I try to feed the birds. The does have learned to tip the bird feeder just enough to spill the seeds on the ground where they eagerly lap them up. Did you know that a doe can stand on her hind legs to reach a bird feeder? Deer are over seven feet tall on their hind legs.
I am not tall enough to get the feeder out of their reach without balancing on a tall stepladder. I don’t do heights…nope…no stepladders for me.
If the deer don’t consume all the bird seed, the squirrels come in and finish it off. I sit quietly and apologize to the small flock of birds gazing forlornly at me from the Douglas fir tree. Then I put the bird feeder away. Maybe next year.
Deer also like to jump in front of my car. I can be innocently driving down the road and suddenly there is a deer standing in front of me. Just standing there with a mouthful of my daisies wondering what I am doing on her road. She stares at me as I slam on the brakes and swerve, barely missing her and skidding to a stop on the brink of the ditch. She watches calmly, then meanders down to the creek for a drink of water without even a second look to see if I survived.
I am trying not to have a heart attack as I maneuver my car back onto the road.
Yes, most people “OOOH and AHH” at the sight of the deer in my yard. They count the points on the buck’s antlers. They watch rapturously as the fawns navigate on their long legs and coo at the does. The visitors praise the long lashes surrounding the does’ eyes and the delicacy of their movements. They giggle at the antics of the spotted babies.
Deer really are beautiful creatures and I know that I am living in their space.
But I wish they would share.
I wish they would only eat half the garden and only half the bird seed.
I wish they would share the road.
I wish they would walk majestically through the yard without stopping.
But since they don’t…
I throw rocks.