I’ve had to accustom myself to many things since my move to Oglethorpe County, but one of the newest learning experiences has been the deer. Now deer is something that I have history with—starting early in Gainesville with my dad. He used to go on “hunting trips” to the mountains with friends. Since he never bagged anything besides a hangover, I decided as a child that deer hunting was just a way for the guys to have a weekend for fun.
My only other deer encounter had been my first movie, Bambi. Mother said I cried so much that she had to take me out of the theater. As I got older, like many city-raised young women, I decided I didn’t like the idea of hunters killing any of those Bambi’s out there.
I did spot a few deer while living in Carlton and then some while tooling around on early morning paper routes back in the 80’s; but after Tommy and I married, deer became a part of life—our inexhaustible freezer meat. I had no desire to go hunting myself, but he seemed to get such joy out of it that I couldn’t complain too much about the time involved.
Then something happened that changed my “deer views” forever. Early one morning as I came up to the beginning of the four lane right before the new Wal-Mart, I became intimately involved with a deer–so intimately that it took $4500 to put the front of the pickup truck back together.
The deer? Well, he got up and ran away. Deer – 1, truck – 0.
I became deer paranoid.
I knew that Tommy could spot a deer any time day or night while in the car, so I started listening to him. I learned that deer are more likely to travel in a group than singly, so I should never assume I’m safe when only one crosses in front of me. I learned that I should always drive with my high beams on—something I didn’t usually do on roads that I knew well. I learned to spot deer and I learned that alertness and knowledge is enough. Paranoia isn’t necessary.
And now, now that we are off the traveled roads, this has become more important than ever. I’m learning the usual deer routes out here; I drive slower than I used to on the dirt roads; I’ve met the same confused deer in the same place several times…I’m getting accustomed to my deer neighbors.
Now when I drive up to my house, I keep an eye out for “my” deer that graze in my front yard after dark. And, while I’m at it, I also enjoy the sights of the raccoons, possums and rabbits that dash out of the glare of my headlights near my front door. Once again, I am surprised and delighted to find that it’s really hard to get lonely out here in the “isolated” countryside!