Deer Encounter in Wyoming
The sun hangs low in the summer sky throwing long shadows though the sun will not set for several more hours. There is little sign of the storm that just blew through my camp, save for a line of cottony clouds towering high over the eastern horizon. The atmosphere still retains the scent of musk from the rain, and the smooth, wet granite boulders are ever-more hazardous as I able across. The buzzing sound of insects from earlier in the day make way for the soft chirping and chittering of birds and rodents that make this rocky landscape their home.
The deer have not yet emerged to feed, so I decide to rest on one of the more modestly sized boulders. They do not rise out of the ground like mounds, but rather appear as if they were placed by some giant rearranging the landscape to their liking. Some of them the size of elephants, others the size of houses. As I lay back against the my chosen boulder, appearing dry from the sun’s radiance, I noticed that the rock still retains some moisture. I find the coolness comforting, and I drift into a nap.
I awaken to the horn of a distant train. A reminder that there is very little on this Earth where mankind does not reach. Still, I can not help be comforted by the stillness of this place. I breathe in deeply to imbue myself with as much sensation as I can. Nature heightens all of my senses. Sight, sound, smell, touch; they all seem to have more purpose here. I discern the slightest movements behind trees, hoping for a glance of some creature taking up its evening routine. Alas, the crunch of gravel under my boots, makes lie of my attempt at hunting, even if only with my camera.
As I cross the road, I stop suddenly at the sight of a doe. It’s obvious she has been aware of my lumbering presence and awaits alert for a sign that I may consider her prey. And indeed I do, but only for my lens. Judging me no threat for the moment, she turns to graze on the grasses under the tree she uses for cover.
I attempt to stay quiet and move smoothly knowing that she won’t risk much danger until she moves far out of my sight. The shutter of my camera brings her attention back to me momentarily, and as I move laterally to find a better angle, she decides to move off to another area, though thankfully not too far. It seems that there is a minimum distance to which I can approach which won’t startle her too badly. Still, I wince each time my shutter clacks, disturbing her feeding. To find a better angle, I risk drawing more attention to myself and clamber on to another boulder, my boots grinding again against the gravel and rock.
As she moves more deeply into the woods, I realize that I have perceived not a sound from her. She knows where I am at all times. It is only with her permission does she allow me to keep pace. At her desire, she could disappear in an instant. And as the sound of a motorcycle approaches, she does just that. She bounds off effortlessly using all four legs together like a spring. It would almost be comical if it weren’t so graceful.
As the amber-colored sunlight fades into the cool of night, I return to my camper, hoping to maintain this connection to this wonderful place and continue to be open to new experiences with nature ahead.