The Deer Hunter

We had quite an eventful weekend here at la casa de Puddin. I already mentioned taking the day off from work on Friday so The Daughter could attend a party while I finished revising a short story; incidentally, the Cyclones won the Kelly Cup. It was good day.

Saturday was, surprisingly, even more action packed. Well, ok, maybe not exactly action packed, but certainly chock full of infrequent excitements! Not only did the Puddinette and I have an opportunity to meet some old friends for dinner and a few drinks (thank you, kind in-laws, for the volunteered babysitting!), but the Puddinpop finally got another a chance to observe a family of deer up close and personal.

My eldest son has been obsessed with deer for just over a year now. Last year, on a pleasant Spring Break afternoon, the kids went out to play on the swing set in the backyard but came roaring back in the house moments later clamoring about a baby deer. A fawn was nestled up against in the back of house, trying to stay out of the way. The little thing stayed there all afternoon, and my kids stood on our postage stamp deck the entire time watching the baby deer nap. It took the call of dinner to force them to leave their observation post, and in the 10 minutes that they inhaled some mac and cheese, the doe returned to claim her offspring. There was no sign of either when the kids went back outside.

The Puddinpop is the eldest son of a pair of dorks (well, I’m a nerd, she’s a dork). When he takes a shine to a subject, then, he has to know everything there is to know about it. Thus, that afternoon visit kicked off a compulsion to learn every fact scientific research has ever produced regarding deer, and he’s spent the last year doing exactly that. While we were initially surprised to find a fawn alone in suburbs, we now know that it’s a very common occurrence. Fawns have no scent for a week or two after birth, meaning they have nothing to trigger the interest of predators. Momma deer does, though, so she’ll leave a young ‘un someplace seemingly safe while she hunts for food.

Personally, I’m honored that our backyard seems safe to the local cervidae. Ever since, I’ve been looking out the back window expecting to see Uncle Remus whistling Zip-a-Dee-Doo-Dah before a collected menagerie of woodland creatures.

At any rate, since the dawn of spring this year, the Puddinpop has been on Deer Patrol. I suggested that he’s not likely to just go out into the neighborhood and find them, especially since he’s got a pretty limited range of approved area in which to search. He is only 7; we’re not letting him wander the suburbs freely just yet. Saturday morning, though, he and his brother were invited to play in someone else’s backyard. While there, they came across a doe with two fawns, tiny little things huddled separately under a pair of bushes at the edge of a small wooded patch. He came tearing into the house moments later, bristling with barely controlled enthusiasm and calling for his Fisher-Price camera. For weeks, he’d been waiting in the front yard for a deer to wander by and occasionally leaving small piles of deer-type foods on our front porch, hoping to tempt a passing critter. All his work came to fruition Saturday, when, with steely nerves, he snapped these:

The DoeThe Fawn

My dedicated Puddinpop spent almost all of his Saturday afternoon sitting completely still, watching a fawn from a few yards away. It is truly miraculous, the way the world works; your average seven year-old won’t stop moving long enough to eat breakfast in the morning, but a family of wild deer has the power to keep them mesmerized for hours on end. And it was very, very good.


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