Last night more than twelve deer gathered in our yard. I was sitting in the kitchen with my son and he glanced out the patio door, grew wide-eyed and said “Look at all the deer.” A mob of deer congregated outside our door, as more kept coming from around the corner. I told him not to move as I slowly slid over to where my camera sat. Usually, if they see movement, even behind closed doors, they make a run for it. This time they lingered. I snapped some photos through the window, but because of the darkness outside none turned out. I slowly opened the sliding door to try and capture an image of the crowd of deer. Unfortunately, that was enough to scare them and most ran out of our line of vision. If you look closely, you can see one or two in the photo.
Even though we live in town, having deer in our yard is not a novel experience. It’s actually more common to see them than not. However, we’ve seen fewer deer this winter than in the past. It must be the unseasonably warm weather. Last year they were desperate and because of that they made a buffet out of anything they could, and thus, wreaked havoc on some of our younger, smaller trees. While we haven’t seen so many deer, their tracks in our snowy yard tell a different story. Notice all the tracks around the tree in the photo below. It might be hard to tell in the photo, but none are human footprints — all these tracks are from deer in our front yard. I’m not worried about this particular tree, but I’m keeping my eyes on the ones we replaced last summer.
Right after we saw what we refer to as “our deer herd” my husband drove into our driveway. A fawn walked so close to his car that my husband could have reached out and touched it. I have to admit that at times I feel annoyed at these pests who leave piles of droppings and kill our trees and plants, but then when we experience the beauty and innocence of wildlife so close it’s hard not to appreciate their visits.
Kristin Eggerling is a board member for Conservation Minnesota Voter Center, the mother of two, and a freelance writer in northwestern Minnesota.