Encounter with Local Fauna

After midnight, hear strange rumblings coming from the side of the house, outside Miles’ window. From my office window, I see the large acacia bush moving, as if in a strong wind, but there is no wind. A bit freaked, thinking maybe some kids are setting up shop in the bushes, grab a flashlight and head outside. Sneak around the corner, throw a beam, and out pads a young buck, looking brave but a bit frightened. His antlers (substantial) had probably become entangled in the dense bushes while foraging, and now he was looking for a way out — but a human was blocking the only route.

I crouched, snapped off the torch, tried not to project a threatening vibe. His big black eyes were illuminated by a nearby streetlight, tranquil but a little bit scared. From a distance of about eight feet, we stared at each other for the longest time, equal parts curiosity and fear flowing in either direction.

This would not be such a surprising event if we were in a more rural location, but we live on a fairly busy street in a thoroughly suburban neighborhood, the last place one would expect to encounter forest creatures. But this is not the first time I’ve seen deer stray this far down from the hill. On evening walks, sometimes see them venturing into neighborhood gardens, snacking on suburban gardens. “Deer are just rats with good P.R.,” or so they say. Have even seem them on occasion traveling in groups, bounding down the street, hooves clacking against the asphalt, oblivious to stop signs, worse than those packs of kids buzzing around on 2-stroke scooters.

Eventually he made his move. Slowly, cautiously, as he had to come even closer to get past me. I’m sure the bulk of fear in the equation was on his side, but can’t say it didn’t cross my mind that those antlers could do serious damage if he decided for some reason that it might be fun to disembowel a bi-ped. Not that that’s ever happened, just saying it crossed my mind. Briefly.

Suddenly he broke into leaps, and was gone, up the street in seconds, tail bobbing in the darkness, clacking his way toward another garden.

Related: Wonderful interview by Forum’s Michael Krasny with poet and naturist Diane Ackerman. Ackerman talks about her conflicted feelings about deer, why she gives necklaces to squirrels, why she plants weeds, and how it’s against the law in some cities to let your front yard become a meadow.

Music: Elvin Jones & Richard Davis :: Summertime

6 Replies to “Encounter with Local Fauna”

  1. Yeah, we have the same problem with Kangaroos.
    Damn things jump the fences and eat the Vege Gardens
    Seriously, we do have problems with Common Ring-Tailed Possums in Urban Australia. They are much more aggressive than deer and are much smellier than Rats.
    I’ve seen a photo of a guy holding a Feral Cat by the base of the tail. His arm was above his head and the Cat’s head was still on the ground. It had been disembowled.
    The Owner of the Photo said that they found this Cat while out hunting and asked what we thought it had been attacked by. Dingo? No. Kangaroo? No. Another Cat? No. Feral Boar? No. Common Ring-Tailed Possum? Yes!
    Dingos are smart enough to steer clear of Possums, but have been disembowled by Big Red Roo’s.

  2. …and how it’s against the law in some cities to let your front yard become a meadow.

    Which is a damn shame. When I think of all the fertilizer, pesticides, and the wasteful amt of water poured on the avg suburban lawn each year… :-P

  3. Daniel, I sure remember from living in Australia (1983) how the kangaroo were treated pretty much like pests, and how farmers would go out almost daily and kill any they found on their land (the roos would jump pretty much any fence to get to the precious oat fields). Was pretty shocking to me at first – as an American I was oblivious to the reality of the problem, and it seemed like wanton destruction. But then I learned that there were four times more kangaroos in Australia than people, and the population was very hard to control. When I went to live on a farm for a couple of weeks, ended up shooting one myself. When in Rome. We dragged it back to the farmhouse with my horse and cut it up for dog food. Harsh lesson.

    I’d sure rather face down a buck than a roo.

  4. We have a lot of deer around my house in San Rafael – they regularly show up on the street and in our gardens.

    Usually it’s only the females with young, but as summer progresses and food becomes more scarce the stag will show up sometimes.

    I recall pulling out of my drive one early morning and starting down the hill only to realise that 3 feet to my left on the other side of the 18 inch high box hedge was a large 4 point stag staring me down.

    “Woah – just stay there dude !” was certainly going through my mind !

  5. There are more Kangaroos now than when Europeans first arrived in Australia (1788). I haven’t heard the four times as many as people one though!

    I grew up on a farm, and I never ever saw a Kangaroo – but the area I grew up in isn’t known for them.

    Emus are pretty aggressive too. Foxes, who kill a fair amount of stock (chickens and sheep, mainly) are actually the best to come across – they’ll pretty much run away.

    Of course, Dingos eat babies.

    (Sorry, couldn’t resist the ObDingoReference)

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