Friday, August 22, 2014

Defiance

It was time to turn back and head back down that rough road to our Impressive campsite. Tasha was with me, attached to a carabiner, when she suddenly jerked on the lead. To my right, I heard the underbrush rattle and the huffing of a large animal. 
BEAR!

But, this was no bear. This was a mule deer and he was not Impressed with Tasha's tempermental display. Neither was I so I calmed the hyper dog and started snapping photos. 

Living in Wisconsin, I have some experience with coming upon deer in the wild, but this was a different species. Mule deer don't live in my part of the world, and this one may have been overly accustomed to people. This deer was maybe 30 yards away, and although he turned and ran a few steps in the opposite direction, he turned and charged. He stopped about 20 yards away and stomped the ground and snorted repeatedly. I don't know how long this went on, but the deer never retreated.

Eventually, we had to walk away. 
Score one for the deer.
 I return to Cairn: A Dragon Memoir and this time Troika recounts his revulsion at being forced to hunt deer. 

Note: this passage is intense. Not all dragons are as compassionate as Troika.
Quill pulled back his leathery wings, and plunged downward at certain-death speed because a herd of deer had breached the forest at the wrong time. At the last heartbeat, Quill’s tail jutted upward, acting as a brake as he ripped into the torso of the largest buck. It was insanity to hurl face first into the earth, but the Bone Master, the three Topaz dragons, and finally, Troika followed with his tail whipping wildly. The deer had panicked, but they had not yet bolted. Four more were easily snatched up in deadly claws while Troika tried the braking maneuver and failed. He escaped a quick death by spreading his flight feathers so wide they felt like they would rip from his wings, but he had hit his target. Troika could feel the old doe in his grasp struggle, than grow still. He was sickened, but he continued to play the role of fierce dragon. As they circled back, a fawn stood trembling at the edge of the forest. Her mother was already on her way to the dragon feast. 

Fact: there a several ways to distinguish a mule deer from a white tail deer. My favorite is the tails. Mule deer have a large patch of black fur at the base of their tail, and white tail do not. Most people easily recognize that white flag of a tail tipped up as the white tail bounds away, and many more identify the mule deer's large ears.
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