Relative Something

*this* John W. Hays’ take on things and experiences

Decidedly Different

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From balmy Sunday to blustery Monday we experienced an almost 40° (F) temperature swing, factoring in the “windchill” reading that resulted from the strong northwest gusting wind. Nothing says October like a cold, cloudy, windy day.

IMG_iP0924eI took Delilah out for a short trek around the property when I got home from work, during which we fed the horses and then wandered a few trails in the woods to check for downed branches.

At one point, even though I didn’t feel as though I was seeing anything, I sensed there was motion occurring through the trees, and I kept my eyes glued in that direction in hopes of picking up some confirmation.

Was it a bird? Likely possibilities included grouse, pheasant, or even wild turkey. Something led me to believe it was big. Something else gave me the impression it was right in front of my eyes, but I was not seeing it. Honestly, what came to mind was the movie effect of “Predator” in camouflage mode.

All these mental gymnastics happened in a fraction of a second. Putting it all together, I discerned the white I thought I had seen was, in fact, the tail of a deer.

We had just come down that hill a short time before, and ended up circling back on our path in a way that may have surprised the keen senses of the shy animal. I was energized to find it had stopped its movement at a place that gave me a clear view of the head and face, as the deer looked directly back at me from an incredibly short distance away.

It was probably the closest I have been to a live, wild deer in years. I glanced down at Delilah, who was nose-to-the-ground busy, following the myriad smells that surely exist on our well-used trails, but she showed no evidence of detecting how close we were to something that would no-doubt thrill her to the extreme to pursue.

When I looked back for the deer, I realized how difficult it was to detect it through the trees while it stood motionless. I started to walk again, coming around the corner to climb the hill where Cyndie and I had just been working on the fence, hoping to get a better perspective on where the deer was standing. I was also scanning in hopes of finding others, under the assumption deer are usually in a herd.

What I discovered was that my movement was enough to drive the deer off and I had been unable to detect its departure. Delilah didn’t show any sign of sensing the scent of immediately fresh traffic across our trail. I wondered if the deer had been surprised by the recent appearance of the fence we just put up over the weekend.

There were no other deer in sight as we climbed the hill toward the house, and toward the respite from the wind it would provide. Had I not picked up the fleeting images of that whiteness and the almost imperceptible motion of the body through the trees, I would have missed it altogether.

Allows me to imagine how often I have probably done just that on these trails in the last few years, and been within similarly close proximity to wildlife, while being entirely unaware.

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Written by johnwhays

October 13, 2015 at 6:00 am

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