Saturday, July 3, 2010

Stalking Deer

The other night while walking along the east side of the Virgin River here in Zion I startled a deer feeding. It jumped, took a few steps, then continued. I usually speak to them and assure them of my peaceful intentions.

As I meandered along, a gray fox startled a deer, which ran, and so did the fox. I guess it was a mutual startle. The fox began trotting down my path, so I stood perfectly still. I wear a black fleece, and dark pants, so by dusk, there's no telling what I appeared to be to this creature.

It was so cute how he'd walk a ways towards me, raise his head to see better, then continue towards me. I made no sounds, no movement. Perhaps I looked like a tree, maybe an unfamiliar stump.

I've heard the best way to stalk a deer is by only moving when it feeds, when it's head is down. Deer are very cautious, so one would take a step, stop as the deer looked around. Wait til it resumes feeding, take another step. Tom Brown's books, very interesting and well written, talks about this.

Here in Zion deer abound, and they're not skittish. Walking home from work last night around 11:00 p.m I passed through a herd of 4. They were browsing on either side of my only sidewalk passage, making it necessary to pass between them.

This is one of my favorite perks working in a National Park : the ability to interact with semi-wild creatures on a regular basis.

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