Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Dangerous Deer

You see the title of this post up there? It should give you a clue as to what this post is all about. I have been waiting for almost a week to tell this story. I hope the posts of the previous days have set it up well. These last several days have all been parts of the same story about this one encounter with this herd of deer.

For those of you who haven't read the others, here they are in order:
  1. No More Snow?
  2. My Search For Life
  3. Further Along The Trail
  4. Closer To The Deer
Now, on to the exciting conclusion of the series!

I told you yesterday that I already had over fifty photos of this herd of at least ten deer. Even though I already had some excellent shots, I became greedy for more. The deer trotted across a small creek to get away from me, but I still followed them.

I actually got several more great photos after I crossed the creek, but I'll show them another time. What happened after I walked even closer to the deer is what I need to tell you now. It was something I've seen twice before, but I still didn't expect.

As I walked closer, the herd was a little off the trail now. They seemed more and more reluctant to move away from the area. I saw that as an opportunity for more deer photos, so I moved in closer to the herd.

As soon as I did this, the deer that was closest to me suddenly took several steps in my direction! It stopped just on the other side of a fallen tree. It was staring at me with a more intense look on it's face than I had ever seen on a deer.

I don't know if that look the deer had shows up well in the first photo, but I understand aggression when I see it. These deer had had enough of me. and the leader came to let me know. So now it was not happy with me, and was definitely challenging me to a fight!

A millisecond later it confirmed the challenge. This second picture is kind of blurry, especially where you see the leaders head. What was happening there was the leader was lowering it's head in a gesture that meant I was in serious danger.

That gesture of a deer moving it's head up and down means that it is thinking of attacking. It's communicating that it wants it's opponent, which was me in this case, to back off. Bulls do the same thing right before they charge. I already knew from past experience that deer also did this.

Well, the first thing I thought was that I was definitely in serious danger. This was a foolish thing I had done. I never stopped to think that when I maneuvered my way so close to these deer that they might get upset. Not too smart.

I then gathered my thoughts and realized that the deer had not crossed that branch. That was a good sign for me. I still had to be very careful here. If I made any sudden moves, this deer was gonna get me.

I had to stand my ground. I definitely couldn't move forward. That would be the worst thing to do! But if I even began to move away, or especially run, it would be a sign of fear. That would give the deer the confidence to charge. Besides, I wasn't about to back down from a stupid deer. My pride demanded that I stayed right there.

We both stood looking at each other for what seemed like a very long time. I knew the only thing I could do was to stand there and wait until the deer gave up. I had to win this staring match. I had my camera up to my eye the whole time, so it's all documented. Taking the pictures was okay since it wouldn't have been smart to move my arms just then anyway.

After what was probably only a matter of seconds, the leader deer seemed satisfied that I wasn't coming any longer; so it turned around to go join the rest of the herd. This tense situation was finally over.

Let me be clear that this deer didn't turn away out of fear. It knew that I was no longer a threat, and it had better things to do than stand there. That deer seemed to be showing the others that it was in charge, and it had dealt with the threat.

Just to emphasize that, as the leader got closer to the other members of the herd, it arrogantly flicked it's tail up to signal to the others that it was time to move on. This lifting of the tail is usually done in fear as a signal to run, but not this time. This time it was a conscious command to the others.

There it is. That's my story. I have many more good photos of these deer, but I just don't have enough room in this story to show them. I had enough photos of this stare down that I should have made an animated picture of it, but I can't find the proper software to create it right now.

Maybe I'll put all of this together some time in the future, but for now I just wanted to get the story out. I said before that I've been holding this last part in for several days now. I kept giving hints in the comments section because it was too much to keep secret. Now it's finally done.

The last thing I want to say is that I was never very frightened. It happened too fast. Maybe I should have been scared, but I wasn't. I was actually very excited by the whole encounter. What better everyday adventure can I show than almost getting into a fight with a wild animal?

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  1. No snow indicates the coming of the spring.

    The animal looks pleasant and comfortable.

    Beautiful day for a beautiful start of the year.

    Great images

  2. What a kind of close encounter!! Luckily both sides have not lost their pride that end up with any attack.

  3. Yes, that deer was definitely not spooked by you. She wasn't going to let you come closer. Interesting and valuable tale.

  4. Great shots!

    Urban deer certainly act different than those I'm used to in the country. Who knew ya had to be careful when encountering deer in the hood.

  5. Excellent! I still am enjoying these adventures. I sometimes wish you had some video, but that might spoil the read and my imagination. That's it! You need to start another blog, keep this one just the way it is and start a new one with video! (Just kidding). Anyway I do love your posts. I am taking the family to Yosemite this spring/summer. Maybe see some deer, bear, wolves, whatever. I'll post our adventures, but I know they will not be near the read I enjoy here!

  6. Wow, great shots but I kinda felt the danger. You are a brave one. I remember a couple of years ago I was walking in a park in Marin when I came across a deer about 25 feet away. We both looked at each other and I for some reason became very nervous and walked away quickly. He was a beautiful animal but I didn't know how to react so I got out of there :)

  7. wow, that was a close encounter. my very close encounters with the deers are in National Parks or State Parks where deers are used to visitors, they do not mind people in the trail. However, in more remote trails, I actually do not really follow them because from my experience, I always am not successful :( they always run too fast, also, I am a bit scared of them, glad you were able to come out of the situation safe, and thanks for sharing your experience. like mountain lions, you have to stand tall.

  8. I am glad your stare down didn't end in disaster for either of you.
    Be careful out there!!

  9. Roentarre - Warm weather is becoming more frequent as the days go by.

    Rainfield - Yeah, I think it ended well for both of us. It was actually interesting to watch that deer command the herd.

    Sharkbytes - I know now not to chase them so relentlessly.

    WiseAcre - I think these deer don't really have any predators, so they are very confident. Deer have done this to me three times now, but this was the most dangerous time.

    Scott - I've been wishing I had video too. I almost do with the pictures I have of this encounter. I have more that I didn't show. I'm thinking of making an animation to show the whole thing.

    I think your Yosemite adventures will turn out great. I read your stuff, so I know you'll do a good job with the posts.

    Jodapoet - I'm not sure of my bravery. I might have been more stupid than brave, but it was exciting. You were probably right to leave, but I'll bet it was thrilling for you.

    Betchai - Your deer sound much more friendly. Mine are used to people, but not used to them coming close. Standing tall is exactly what I was thinking when I was there, and it was the right thought. I kept thinking that there was no way I was going to back down from a little deer. Pure arrogance.

    The Retired One - I'm glad too. Yesterday you kind of figured out what was going to happen.

  10. Next time maybe you can wear those Deer Horns Camouflage... so less intimidating to them.. :)

  11. Vanilla - It sounds like a good idea, but I think they might have hunted me for that.:)

  12. *Errkkk*
    Is that deer bigger then you?
    Never heard about deer so brave like this.

  13. Lunaticg - Actually the deer was only about normal sized for a deer, but it thought it was big. These deer see just enough people to know they're not a big threat, but not enough for it to be friendlier.