Where are my binoculars? Across the river a healthy doe feeds along the bank. She is in the illuminating brightness of the sun as it makes its daily journey toward the western horizon. Her coat is the color of honey, and she pokes her nose into the lush green vegetation to get a bite to eat. Then it's "up periscope," craning her neck, she maintains a constant vigilance that raises her odds against becoming the victim of carnivorous predators on the prowl.
I am using the scope on the semi-automatic 22 caliber, Marlin rifle in place of binoculars. Memory reminds me that I bought it for Josh in May of 1988--he was five. At the same time, I bought Justin a single shot, 410 shotgun. Of course I did not let them use the weapons unsupervised, but we have had some good times leaving a trail of spent rounds through the years. Josh continues to shoot. He is a marksman. At 100 yards, he can plink the end of a soda can.
Looking pure white in the glare of daylight, her tail flickers and twitches randomly. That would all change if her finely tuned survival instincts sensed impending danger. Her tail would raise like a white flag--not of surrender--but retreat, and she would put space between herself, and a perceived threat. A couple of powerful leaps, and in seconds, the once peaceful doe would deftly thread through dense undergrowth, over dead falls, and around countless natural obstacles--a sight to behold.
Now there are 4 deer feeding on the ledges. Another single doe, and a doe and her spotted lamb just arrived. The little one hasn't a care in the world, because of the good care of momma. Why, all of a sudden is there so much activity? Starting Thursday night the weather deteriorated quickly, and a windy, cold, driving, drenching, apocalyptic worthy rain assailed the area. Friday was also miserable--the temperatures were in the low 40's (I had to fire up the Jotul (wood stove) to dry things out inside the cabin) and this spate of miserable weather probably explains why the deer are so active. They have been hunkered down--waiting out the storm--and now it's time to eat!
Bellies are full now, and as if a voice--heard only by them--beckons. The two eligible does go off in opposite directions. Mom and her little one also respond, and lazily move toward the cover of the woods. One by one, like wraiths, the quartet disappear into the deep shadows of their forest home.