Jen Jeffrey: Running With Deer

Wednesday, August 27, 2014 - by Jen Jeffrey
Jen Jeffrey
Jen Jeffrey

Another Saturday morning walk with my two pals Spec and Sweetie brought a little more adventure for the week’s end.

As we headed out on the long, winding country road where we live, the early morning’s misty haze blanketed the corn fields. Occasionally, I have seen deer follow along the haze crossing from the cornfields on our side of the road to the bean fields and wooded area on the other side.

My cohorts and I kept an eye out for them, but didn’t see any deer right away. We walked toward the gravel road on the right which would lead us to our friends - the cows. The cattle were lowing and as we walked up the gravel road we could already hear their heavy breathing and their mouths pulling on the grass as they grazed. Maybe they would be close enough for us to see them better. I didn’t bring my camera (which is when I will always see something breathtakingly beautiful) so I expected that my favorite paint colored cow would be up by the fence and I would miss a great picture.

Sweetie and Spec made sure to dutifully mark the path with their scent as we trod up the hill toward the pasture. I wondered about Sweetie being a girl and why she seemed to mark more frequently than Spec. I don’t know enough about dog’s behavior to know if it is usually a ‘guy thing’, a breed thing or if it is just a canine thing, but I also wondered if Sweetie felt she had to, since Spec wasn’t doing it much.

Spec seemed more at ease with our now familiar walk than he did in the beginning when he was a fraidy-cat. I wanted to get to our destination, but I had to repeatedly stop along the way and let the Greys sniff.

What I saw with my eyes was the usual path of long, gravel road with the bean fields on each side, but what they saw was not only with their eyes, but from their hound-snout and with their minds. They knew who or what had been at the sprig of grassy weed during the night and I am sure the adventure was even better for them with their great gift of smell. I could only imagine what they were finding out about the path we were walking.

This time, the cows were not as close to the fence once we got to the top of the hill and it seemed me and my pals wanted a little more adventure from our walk. I saw to the right of the cow pasture, a red-clay, dirt and gravel road that had a barrier stating “road closed”. I remember Samantha (the voice in my GPS) trying to bring me home on that road once. I forgot what was down it, but it looked to be just a very long dirty road winding through the fields and wooded areas on both sides.

I could tell the Greys were ready to explore with me, so we headed down the closed road just to see what we could see (and smell).

After Sweetie marked a few places, we saw a trail off the road on the right that went through the wooded area. It was a clearing leading to the bean fields and I knew all those right turns had to lead us close to where we started even though I knew we’d be facing the back of the bean field that is across from our house.

I have walked the Greys in the front of that bean field and seen a small clear path of grass much like the one we were seeing from the back of the woods (these were the same woods where I had heard the deer scream in my snake story a few stories ago).

We had been gone almost an hour, so I knew the deer had probably already crossed from the woods behind our house and through the corn and bean fields to the woods we had come to. I hoped that me and my hiking buddies would get to see them.

At first, I wasn’t so sure if we would find a trail through the bean fields to lead us home without having to traipse through thick tall grasses that could harbor snakes. I had thrown on cropped yoga pants and running shoes when I woke up and did not have the proper attire to go through unbeaten paths, but so far it seemed that there were enough clearings that could lead us home and if not – we could always turn back.

The Greys were up for it and so was I. As we came to an area with high grass and trees, I saw a cemetery stone that seemed forgotten about - one single stone with trees and brush grown up around it. I was respectful not to disturb the one at rest, but at the same time was curious to know if it were someone’s lost love, or a soldier was buried or someone’s horse and I wondered how long ago it was buried there.

It was an old stone that was not fancy or surrounded by other stones. When I got up close enough to see the inscription, it read “Watson”. It was a head stone with a man and woman’s name I could not make out. The woods were thick again and it seemed that we had lost a clear path. I thought we would have to turn back, but I asked my canine pals “which way now?”

Ol’ Spec took the lead and after I braved the high grassy area, it led us through the trees and to another clearing in the back of the vast bean field. We stopped and took in the view. Far across the meadow, we could see our house with the misty fog still lingering.

It reminded me of the scene in the Wizard of Oz where Dorothy and her friends saw Emerald City far in the distance and all they had to do was run through the poppies to get there. Our home looked tiny from so far away. I saw our white fences surrounding our home and, after an hours walk it was pleasant to see, but also really beautiful from that view.

When Dorothy and her chums ran through the poppies they only made it half-way before the wicked witch’s spell on the poppies made them fall asleep. I knew we didn’t have a witch after us, but who knows what chemicals a big-ag farm uses. The effect just might be the same. I also knew it was bad manners to go running through someone’s bean field with two dogs so we followed the trail alongside the woods.

Once we got to the left of the woods where the deer live, we walked slowly and silently. No matter how silent we tried to be, the deer knew we were there. I heard a deer scream out her warning with that same breathy shrill I had heard before. I saw her! I heard her running! I saw several!

I was a little nervous thinking Spec and Sweetie might run into the woods to chase them, but they knew they had their Mama on the other end of the leash and they stayed right with me on our path.

The Greys were thinking the same thing I was – we just had to be a part of it and we ran alongside with the deer! Luckily, the flattened path between the woods and the beans was open enough for us to run together as we watched the deer run inside the woods through the trees. Spec was on my right and Sweetie was on my left and I held the leashes upward so they could freely run without entanglement.

We ran swiftly as we watched the deer run for cover and into the deeper part of the woods. Wow! In our minds the woods were not separating us and we were one with the deer. What beauty! Then, all of a sudden a shot rang out.

It was in the distance far away in another wooded area behind the cow pasture, but in the moment my thoughts went rampant. What if there were hunters in the woods where OUR deer were? What if hunters thought WE were deer? Spec is fawn colored and he could easily be mistaken for a deer. I walked heavily and talked out loud to my pals just in case there were any hunters in the woods after our deer. I didn’t hear anything. I think the deer were safe and so were we.

We were now minutes from home (though, I had to trudge through another possible snake-y high patch of grass).  When we hiked passed the bean field and back onto the country road in front of our house, Spec and Sweetie had to be coaxed up the ditch and onto the road to head home. They had enjoyed the adventure as much as I did and I think they wanted to keep hiking. I love that they have as much energy as I do and will keep up with me, but I had a husband to spoil with a good breakfast.

Summing up our Saturday adventure in my head - we had been on an unfamiliar path where we weren’t quite sure what we would see, we ran with the deer as they leapt for a hiding place and …we could have possibly been shot by hunters – wow! What a great time!

If I really thought hunters would be in the woods where we were or there was a possibility that we would be the hunted, I would not have been so eager to explore with the pooches, but that is what a great imagination is for - to get the adrenalin pumping. I can’t help but to think that after snake season ends and the tall grasses die, we might actually hike in the woods when it is closer to winter. For now… running with the deer was pretty great.

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