By Bambi, I do not mean the character in the Disney movie, but a generalized Bambi, as in a little deer, as in the book from 1923, Bambi, A Life in the Woods. Any young buck that you might by chance encounter in the woods, a provincial park, your back yard, or your driveway.
I had my Close Encounter of the Bambi Kind in my driveway just the other day! And I have the bruise and scratch on my thigh to prove it. No, I won’t post a picture. I won’t even take a picture. You’ll just have to believe me.
A couple of summers ago, My Liege and I had a Close Encounter of the Bambi Kind while walking Allie McBeagle in a provincial park that has deer, rattlesnakes, cougars, bears, and other varmints. Back then, Allie was not on a leash on this particular trail we had walked on dozens of times. We came upon a doe on the left side of the path. Now, Allie was 9 or 10 at the time, and now she is 11 going on 12. Had she been 2 or 3, considering she’s a beagle, we might have been in real trouble. Because this doe was not little, and a two-year-old beagle would have been very interested in her. The doe was a mom, and somewhere in the vicinity, nowhere that we could see but we knew it was there because of her behavior, she had a fawn. We were pretty darn certain about this because when she saw us, as we passed by her, she began pawing the ground, lowering her head, and her nostrils were flaring. In other words, she wasn’t too happy.
My Liege immediately got the dog on a very short leash and I was to advance very slowly away from the deer. Because he’s a professional forester by training, he knows very well that deer are wild animals and, despite that they can be tamed or found in petting zoos, in the wild you are not, under any circumstances, to treat them like a friendly little Bambi. A deer can really hurt you or your dog, or your goldfish.
This first Encounter, once there was a respectable distance, the doe leapt over the path and into the brush. We thought we were okay at that point, but she wasn’t certain we didn’t know about her fawn, and she wound up stalking us the rest of the way along the path, until we reached the point where we could exit the park. By stalking, I mean that she followed us on the path and/or in the woods, NOT happily twitching her tail, but with the same pawing of ground and nostril-flaring. Warning signs. My Liege found a large branch to keep her away from us. We finished the trail (because we could not leave the trail at that point without going into the brush, which would have really irritated her) and left the park.
Now, just the other day, the dog escaped out the front door, and I thought she was after the mailman, who gives her a dog cookie every day. So I run down the road after her, and there he is, but also there are also several neighborhood members and this fairly tame young buck trying to get the neighbours to scratch its head. According to one of my neighbors, this is the same young buck that has been seen in the area and in the park all this summer. When he lowers his head, he just wants you to pet him. And he likes dogs. He wants to play with them.
I gathered my dog together el pronto, and I must say the deer was not interested in my dog. He was interested in lowering his head and having my neighbor pet him between the antlers. But the antlers, they are sharp!
Fast-forward to day before last, and My Liege and I are getting ready to go out for a family dinner. We are both in the driveway when we see a couple walking a young Basset Hound. They’d popped into our driveway because Young Buck had been following them. Basset hid behind our fence, and Young Buck’s tail twitched. Yes, actually twitched, like he wanted to play. You could say his tail wagged, and I wouldn’t stop you. He wasn’t being territorial in the least, but, according to my forester husband, he was still a wild animal and therefore best to give him a wide berth.
So don’t ask me how this happened.
I wound up on one side of the truck, by the passenger door, because that’s where I was to sit. M.L. went back into the house to get something, and the couple with the dog were on a bordering road by now. But Young Buck decided it was time to approach me. Maybe he recognized me from the day before! He lowered his antlers, his rack or whatever you call it, and slowly walked toward me. But I was maybe ten inches from the truck. So I backed up, and next thing I know I’m against the truck door and Young Buck’s antlers are pressing into my thigh. My Liege shouts from the door of the house, “Cindy, get in the truck!”
“The truck’s locked!” I yell back.
Yeah, good plan, M.L. Lure the buck to your wife and then lock the truck doors on her.
So what could I do? The point of one of Young Buck’s antlers was digging into my thigh—and it hurt! If I didn’t do something quickly, soon another might bruise my abdomen (I have quite a bruise on my thigh, and he barely poked me). So I calmly grabbed his antlers in both hands, looked him in the eyes (he was looking up at me) and, as gently as I could given that he was hurting me but I didn’t want to make him mad, pulled his antlers and head up and away from my body, earning myself a scratch as well as a bruise. That caused him to back up a bit, but he hadn’t gotten what he was after, we think (or the neighbors think), the scratch between his antlers. So he went back to following the couple with their dog down the road, My Liege once more gave me heck for not getting out of danger’s path quickly enough, and I once more reminded him that the truck door was locked.
Meanwhile, Allie McBeagle watched all of this from the house doorway. Good pup!
It sounds like a funny story, and even a cute one, but the reality is that the future does not look rosy for Young Buck. He appears to be surviving in the park and in the neighborhood by eating whatever he can. However, reports say he has also been nudging kids at the local elementary school. No matter how friendly he appears, he is still a wild animal, and if he gets perturbed, who’s to say he couldn’t hurt a child or a person or a small dog? Deer have been known to get very territorial about the back yards they inhabit in certain areas of British Columbia, and small dogs have been charged and killed. In the case of our first Encounter, that with the doe, we were in her territory. But this poor Young Buck is now very accustomed to humans and encroaching on their territory. How this happened, I don’t know, but the best thing to do with such a wild animal is not interact with it so it will hopefully head back into the park. But how can it truly become wild again now that it seems to be tame? What will happen to YB?
I would love it if he went to a petting zoo, but there are none in my area.
A hunter might decide to take him down by the light of the moon, when no one is looking. Yes, a rifle makes too much noise, but people in this area also hunt with bows.
Young Buck might dart into traffic and get hit by a big truck.
Or Young Buck might get too friendly with the kids at the school, and then Young Buck will probably be put down by the wildlife service. So sad.
Or Young Buck might continue to wander the area, but eventually winter will come and his food source will deplete. And then he’ll get really, really hungry…
There are also coyotes in the park. No, Young Buck’s future does not look bright.
Have you had a Close Encounter of the Bambi Kind?