A Deer Named Jed

Posted on March 16, 2021

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This here is a narrative from a deer named Jed, a big whitetail buck who’s trying to keep from being dead. With a size twelve hoof and gigantic rack, let’s find out what he thinks once he’s being tracked. And then one day when he was chasing a doe, from out of nowhere came his most formidable foe. Hunter, deer hunter. So the first thing you know old Jed’s a marked deer, from a carefree environment he now lives in fear. His kin folk say, stay low and only move at night, by going completely nocturnal will keep you safe and out of sight.

 

 

As I begin to share this story, remember that it ultimately comes from the minds of humans, since none of us have any idea what a whitetail is thinking at any given moment, whether they can recall experiences, make choices based on sound judgement or are employing just plain instinct. We can, however, from our observations, make educated predictions of what a buck is about to do based upon behavior and repeated responses to any number of external stimuli. I have tried to never let anthropomorphism (the attribution of human characteristics or behavior to an animal) seep into my writings; those are things that C.S. Lewis did with his acclaimed series, The Chronicles of Narnia. But, just for kicks, let’s give some of the narrative over to a deer named “Jed”.

 

“Where have all the gals gone, by now I would have run into at least a half dozen does”, Jed mused to himself as he plodded along. “Perhaps I will do a bit more advertising with a few more scrapes, topped off with my personal cologne I like to call, rub-urination #5.”

 

And then there it was, the most alluring of all scents to a whitetail buck, estrous #1 floating in the breeze at ground level. Game on for Jed, a game that only his nose can sort out.

 

 

Round and round they go, and where they stop not even the whitetail knows. With his thump, thump, thump cadence, outstretched neck and head held close to the ground in bird dog fashion, Jed, blind with love, chases any deer with a skirt. His rhythmic choppy steps and guttural grunts usually herald his forthcoming long before he makes his entrance onto the stage. This fatal flaw in his otherwise adept cunning behavior has provided countless hunters the reward of a few seconds in which to ready their arms for his arrival. Whitetails don’t get stupid during this time as they’re so often labeled. They may temporarily throw caution to the wind, as has many a fine lad when smitten with love, but by no means should that be described as dim-witted intellect.

 

Jed was no different. However, when love takes over, it’s best to toss the narrative over to those with an even keel that have their wits about them. There’s no one better to offer a romantic depiction than the wordsmith himself, Archibald Rutledge, when he vividly writes in A Woodland Courtship,

 

“Down a dim forest pathway, overhung with misty grass tops, I saw a doe coming. She had not seen me. Indeed, she was in full flight; and naturally she was chiefly concerned with what was behind her rather than with what was before her. Lithe, exquisite, a veritable palpitation out of the great forest’s heart, feminine in that mysterious sex’s indefinable delicacy, on she came. She did not run as a deer runs from dogs or men – in mad, incontinent flight, with tail high and nervously jerked from side to side with the rocking of the haunches. The flight of this doe, beautiful to behold, was merely a part of the ancient hide-and-seek game of the female and the male. Having in it no fear, it yet possessed an alluring imitation of timidity – purposeful in its shyness, fatal in its modesty. Here was suddenly divulged the passionate, exquisite, infallible lure of Beauty’s shadowy feigned avoidance.

 

 

Love’s fugitive passed me; rocked lithely through a golden breast-high sedgefield; trotted through a red copse of huckleberry; paused; dodged through a small myrtle-bordered pond; passed up an old lumber road; paused once more to look back. Was this a flight? It was full of sweet delays of feigned escape. Hers was that flight which yearns for pursuit. She wanted to be followed, perhaps followed fast; but she didn’t want to be overtaken-not yet.

 

The doe faded into the distant forest-vanishing in that silent and eerie fashion which is characteristic of deer. Of the tremulous spirit of the virgin wilderness are they; and I never see one without feeling that the ancient inscrutable forest has for a moment uttered a beautiful secret-a secret usually held inviolately within the deep wood’s wise mothering heart. And now a second secret that heart was to tell; fast on the track of the doe came the stag.

 

In this rapturous season of love and of mating, the presence of a doe renders inevitable the presence of a buck. He may be miles behind, but he will follow.”

 

(Jed’s heart raced as he focused completely on the doe he chased.)

 

The buck (Jed) that was following my doe was a handsome fellow, sheeny in his flesh dun coat, regal in his tall antlers. He was swiftly and shrewdly drinking up the alluring scent that lingered on the trail-“fair speechless messages,” relayed by the dew-hung bushes. It was odd to see him running with his head low, and with an intentness of purpose almost human. He came very close to me. He saw me. Of all living things, I was his fellest and most ancient enemy. Did he swerve from his direction? Did he quit the game? One of the Elizabethan dramatists, I believe, poignantly describes death as the mere giving over of a game that must be lost. But love is a game that must be won; it is not in the heart to give it over. Only a glance of haughty indifference the pursuing stag gave me-such a look as he might have employed to pierce his rival. His broad black nose, with red nostril-pits wide, never left the trail. He recognized me as something living, which did not represent the goal of his passionate search.

 

 

Leaving the hearth, he (Jed) has followed the fragrant glenside to the lowest bench of the mountain. Here are secret thickets, the mournful beauty of an old clearing, now fast being reclaimed “by the forest”; here, under the girlish grace of silver birches, shimmering in the dusk, under the stubborn hardihood of many a mountain ash and towering poplar, there is a delicious glade.

 

After a long and palpitating pause, she minced timidly out of the bosky thicket. (Jed) had pursued her long and arduously, and she had ever eluded him. But such play comes to an end. She has at last relented; perhaps she cannot help herself.

 

 

He would overtake her; perhaps for a week he might follow. But in this kind of game, Nature dooms one to lose. Or do both win? Or does the fugitive win? The course of the male is cave-mannish, obvious, gauche, over-weening; that of the female is subtle, smacking of sorcery, witching in perverseness. I think she wins.”

 

 

After spending the last 48 hours exclusively with his latest conquest, Jed needed both food and rest. “I will climb the ridge, browse my way to the top and take refuge for the day in familiar grounds. And to be certain I’m not followed by intruders; I will circle my bedding site to the top and lay upon the bench just below the summit.”

 

Not long after Jed made his bed someone interrupted his nap. “What is that cadence I hear,” Jed inquired. “It is faint, but close. It would be easy for me to just lay here, but I must see what my ears have detected. Man is here! And on the same route I had taken. What to do? What to do? Run hard, fast and silently down the opposite side!” And with that, another chase was on, this time it is between predator and prey.

 

“I can usually outdistance most if not all of these followers. Somewhere between half-to-three quarters of a mile they lose their zest for the quest and give up the chase. I like to put a good mile between us before feeling secure enough to go back to normal activities.”

 

Jed crossed the logging road just ahead of the plow, a crafty yet not quite purposeful maneuver. It wiped out any tracks left in the road.

 

“With a night of romance behind me, and very little to eat, I really need to lay down for a good nap,” Jed thought. “And this particular location provides me all the security needed while I rest.”

 

However, within the hour that all too familiar sound of snow squeak once again reached Jed’s ears. Laying on the ground in six inches of wet, sticky snow has its advantages if you are a buck. “There he is again,” Jed said, “apparently he doesn’t know he was supposed to quit the trail a half mile ago. I’m up and off again!” Jed ran, uncertain if his enemy has seen him or not.

 

 

“Ok, you want to play hard ball, I’ll show you a few tricks,” Jed exclaimed. “And my first is the loop, which will either reveal he is still following me or buy me some additional time.” Not seeing any evidence of a pursuer once Jed looped back onto his original track, he meandered in and around a group of deer prints made just a couple of hours ago.

 

“Now, to the top of that hill to observe what is or hopefully is not coming down the trail,” exclaimed Jed to himself. And with that he watched and waited and waited some more. And just about the time Jed began to relax, there, something in the distance caught his attention. Jed paced in place, a nervous reaction I would guess. And there he was, yet again the enemy has caught up. Time to run again, and run he did, but only to get just far enough ahead of the pursuer.

 

When Jed came to the next road, he halted prior to crossing and backed up placing his hooves into the very same ones previously made. “Once I get back to thick growth, I will then make a tremendous leap off to the side and cross the road further down.”

 

“I can hear the familiar brook dead ahead of me,” thought Jed. “Once I get to it, rather than simply crossing, I will walk up the brook without leaving the water for a while.” Upon reaching a bend in the stream, Jed jumped out to the other side and continued his forced march.

 

 

With but a short time left before daylight turned to dusk and black sky, Jed felt confident that he was now safe. “No enemy, two or four legged, has ever caught up to me following the implementation of those two maneuvers,” Jed consoled himself and began to slowly feed along and up another ridge.

 

And then, fifteen minutes prior to dark, Jed heard what has now become a torturous sound, squeaking snow under foot. “Can’t be him!” Jed exclaimed. “Has to be some other woodland occupant making that sound!”

 

Partially hidden within fir boughs and whips, Jed turned only his head to look back and quickly realized, it was indeed him. “He, my ancient enemy, has once again caught up and this time the stick that he carries is pointing directly at me. Can he actually see me? How should I react? This is so improbable as no pursuer has ever stayed with me to this point in the chase.”

 

Bewildered, Jed stands statuesquely still staring at this predator while the hunter stands staring at his intended target. The silence is broken, and the scene illuminated by the orange flash of muzzle blast.

 

 

The forest goes dark leaving you the reader to come to your own conclusion as to how this age -old saga between predator and prey ultimately played out. “Nature dooms one to lose. Or do both win? Or does the fugitive win?” Rutledge inquired.

 

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Posted in: Whitetail Deer