Grand-deer

By Jerry D. Haight


At some age, one may think "I've been there . . .done that and  there can't be any more surprises".   Fortunately, Phyllis and I have not got to that age and life continues full of unexpected events. Let me share one of our latest.


It is not possible to be precisely sure when it began because we had no idea of the long term impact at our first encounter and only much later did we find ourselves so intrinsically interwoven in the events that they would be forever written in the gray matter of our memories. If we have to ascribe a date, Let's just say it would have to be around the second week in May, 2011.


Just before breakfast, Phyllis loudly whispered, "Jerry Look!". and as we looked out into our back yard, we saw a medium sized buckskin colored Colorado mule deer with big brown eyes, gigantic ears, and a patch of white in the middle of her forehead. Her presence was not strange since the common area surrounding our summer home in Estes Park is frequented  by all manner of wildlife including monster sized elk, deer, coyotes, badgers, birds of all sizes and colors and a plethora of smaller creatures. What startled us were the two tiny fawns about 16" tall, a little smaller than our sheltie, Misty. We would later learn the twins (a male and female) were less than a week old; born across the street from the golf course, a block away.


Most striking about our first impression was the wonderment in their huge bright brown eyes as they surveyed each aspect of their world for the first time. Their unencumbered innocence and trust in their mother was next followed by our awe of the sheer beauty of the newborns and their facial expressions at each new encounter. To us, it was love at first sight. Such was the impact on us that we both watched speechless with tears welling in our eyes. At the same time, we laughed at their colossal ears, passed down through their mother. We just could not help but make the connection of our first encounter with that of Thumper, in the classic Disney film of old. And, yes they were kind of wobbly too.


As we watched in wonderment, the doe noticed us and instead of fleeing our presence, she simply quietly walked by our window, stopped and let her twins nurse while she  checked us out and at the same time introduced her new arrivals. We had no idea what else was on her mind, and only later would we find out, this was just the start of a beautiful relationship.


We found ourselves referring to the doe and her twin fawns as "mom and the kids" and she showed up two or three times a day. Several days after our first introduction, we observed two pair of ears protruding above the tall grass growing in the rough, which   after close inspection with binoculars, they were the twins, but no mom in sight. We watched for over an hour, fearing the two might have been abandoned, but  then mom returned, nursed the kids and settled down for a nap while the twins romped and played.  

Over the next week or so, the pattern of leaving the two for an hour or so continued. Sometimes, mom would nap for a while and other times she would leave with the fawns and come back later. Before long, it became clear she was very comfortable with depositing her babies within very close proximity of us and we thoroughly enjoyed their presence and watching both their growth and their antics. These two were simply darned cute.


Sometime later, the kids were once again "parked" as we called it in our yard, apparently with strict instructions to remain in place and quiet. Well, about half hour into mom's sojourn, three rabbits began playing.  The rabbits were hidden in the taller grass but were well aware of each other and as if on signal, they charged to the center and exploded several feet in the air, then return to their original position to try again while in mid air, some even did back flips giving new credence to the term "bunny hop".

Suspiciously, with each furry mid-air collision, the group moved closer to where the kids were parked. Soon, the twins were on their feet nose-to-nose with the rabbits and began playing as well.


When Mom returned, we think she noticed a suspicious change between where she parked the twins and where she found them. "Were you good kids?, she seemed to ask. "We might have been except for the rabbits that demanded we play chase with them." they could have said. But since they weren't really caught, they probably just said "of course". But when their mother saw the look on the rabbits' face, nearby, she knew better. She was also once a fawn.


Our first summer was filled with many wonderful adventures, but certainly our growing relationship with our "grand deer" was high on the list.