The regular hunting season for deer will end here February 15. Buck goes to the woods to contemplate shooting a deer several times a week, taking along his binoculars and a good book. There is no venison stockpiled in our freezer. We feed the deer year round. The herd grows.
Nonetheless, I stay out of the woods during hunting season, mostly out of respect for the deer, who are reproducing, and also a native caution in the event of a careless bow hunting poacher hidden away somewhere in a secret tree stand. I don’t necessarily begrudge the poacher meat if it’s needed to feed his family, and that’s more common than we comfortable folk might think, but I don’t want Maggie or me to accidentally run afoul of danger. Hurricane Ivan made the poacher’s task more difficult. There are places at the swamp’s edge where a human can only travel on hands and knees, so many trees are down, the debris formidable.
But I miss the deep woods, and look forward to daily explorations beginning again in a few days. I will look for lichens, fruiting spores, budding pitcher plants and the young longleaf pines reaching, reaching.
Standing at the kitchen sink this morning, I watched a healthy young doe walk right up to the edge of the house foundation, sniffing at the block and the red clay. For a moment, I thought she might leap up the three feet or so to walk around on the surface. Instead, she found a patch of green shoots to munch on nearby, then moved gradually back into the woods, where I could see the big ears of another, taller deer.
This is a very poor photo, I know. Here is where knowing something (anything) about camera settings and how to take a picture at a distance would have made a difference. I promise to learn. But perhaps — I hope — you can sense the sweetness of the moment in this dim outline.