Standoff with a Young Buck

Today I had the brilliant idea to take a “superquick” hike in the woods in the twenty minutes between hours of computer work and picking up my lovely daughter at her fantastic daycare.  This would have basically been a brisk walk to get from my backyard, through the woods, the meadow, up the steep hill, through the rest of the woods, and back down the street.  This is very ambitious for me!  I’m the one you see stopping every five feet on the trail to check out a plant, a mushroom, knot in a tree, funny squirrel, take a picture, check out the birds in the binoculars, lay down to feel the moss, observe the… get the idea.

So I was taking my quick jaunt, feeling like I was unfairly ignoring my woodland friends and probably missing some cool skull or plant that had just popped up.  There I was stomping through the woods, hoping I would make it back in time.  Usually I would try to walk softly so as not to scare the wildlife.   All the sudden, I entered into Bird Spirit Holler (which I forgot I had actually previously named Deer Spirit Holler, and here’s why), and right there about 50 feet in front of me, completely oblivious (I know this is totally a run-on sentence, hopefully my English teacher mother will forgive me), was  a young buck deer.  It had it’s new antlers, velvet and all.

I crouched down and observed him for awhile, in disbelief that he hadn’t heard me stumble into the meadow.  I started taking pictures.  I guess he finally heard the camera or caught me out of the corner of his eye, because he turned and looked right at me, then stared.  I like to try to telepathically communicate with the deer, telling them I’m their friend, I won’t hurt them, and if they happened to want to come give me a little nuzzle, that’d be fine with me.  I like to try to imitate their body language, like a young, deer-loving Jane Goodall : )  However, usually their body language is that of fear and protection, a threat really.  He stamped his hoof at me and waited to see my response.  When I didn’t respond, he continued the same action.  I tried to make myself appear small and unthreatening, like I was eating an elder sapling.  He wasn’t buying it, though.  He snorted a “I’ll charge right over you if I have to” snort.  Luckily he didn’t.  After a few more pictures, he ran off.  I could hear him snorting to his friends in the woods and some others snorting to theirs on the opposite ridge.  Wow, animal communication!


Yes, he was looking right at me!

I hiked the rest of the trail, with as little distraction as I could muster, munching some foraged chickweed and ground ivy, and came out at the end of my street.  I noticed that the multiflora rose was blooming.  Multiflora rose is another one that’s referred to as ‘invasive’.  If I remember correctly, it was widely given to famers to help stop erosion and  spread like wildfire.  Now it’s being eradicated by the anti-invasive crews.  The fantastic thing about roses is that any roses have edible rosehips (assuming they haven’t been sprayed).  Rosehips have huge amounts of Vitamin C and some Vitamin E (in the seeds) and ripen after the roses have dropped off, in the fall, fortuitously right around cold and ick season.  They’re good to eat as is or make into preserves or syrup.  Yum!  So I made a mental note to remember where they were for the fall.

Multiflora Rose

Multiflora Rose

Then I ran into a similar looking plant, also with white flowers and thorns, but not roses.  Compare the petal shape and leaf patterns.

Can you guess???

Can you guess???

Alright, give up? …….

Blackberries!  Yup, made a mental note of that one for a couple months down the road!

I also noticed the chicory leaves, their likeness to dandelion leaves, and the old stalks which would be replaced with new stalks with beautiful blue flowers soon enough.

chicory leaf

chicory leaf

Then there was the red clover.  It is so nourishing, has so many minerals, and is tasty, too.  The flowers sometimes taste like honey.  The flower and leaves are edible and nice in salad or tea.  Plus, they’re pretty!

red clover

red clover

Okay, so after that standoff inthe woods (obviously I couldn’t just keep moving), I was running behind schedule.  Luckily the daycare provider is my friend and a strong advocate for forest meditation.

And I felt the funk of sitting in front of a computer just melt away, like it was never there to begin with.  Go figure.

Watch out for young bucks along the way!

Abby Artemisia

Herbalist & Healing Arts Practitioner


2 Responses so far »

  1. 1

    lisa said,

    The buck interaction is interesting. My oldest and i had our own non-threatening interaction with a buck years ago. Fauna was just under 2yo, we were on the trails and I kept getting the feeling that we were being watched. I would look around and see nothing, 10 min. later I saw a white flash dancing through the woods and finally was able to make out the young buck. We said hello to him and carried on with our little hike, he curiously watched and followed us for another 10 min, until we left the wood. I remember turning back as we left and seeing his curious face; he seemed to be enjoying us….It was so amazing!

    I love that you found me in the blog world! Great to meet ya!

    -Lisa 🙂

  2. 2

    Kate said,

    What a great story! Your writing makes me want to hike with you. I hope someday I can. Have a blessed day.

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