My cat Spice has also been making friends. She does not venture outside, but loves to sit at doors or windows and watch two chipmunks and a gray squirrel who gather the seeds that fall from two birdfeeders on the deck and front porch. These tiny critters and the birds at the feeders cause her to emit tiny, quiet "mews." She watched the birdfeeders in North Carolina as well. She was not, however, prepared for the other neighbors of the forest who eventually came one evening to graze in our front yard.
A doe and her two fawns still displaying their spots crossed the road and came into the yard, followed by a small deer with "buttons" in velvet, probably her fawn from the season before.
He kept his distance from the other three. Spice had never seen deer in North Carolina, since we lived within the city limits. She produced a throaty growl from somewhere deep within and jumped down from the windows.
That was my introduction to this deer "family" who made regular trips through my property
in the mornings and evenings. I especially looked for the little button buck and noticed when he developed nice points, still covered in velvet, and was travelling farther behind his mother. Doe often chase off their male offspring from the season before. It made me sad and I was worried for him all alone as the days grew shorter and cooler.
Then one evening the doe appeared with the two fawns followed by another doe with one fawn, followed by my little two-point buck, then another four-point, also in velvet. It seems that the two yearling bucks were travelling at a distance from their siblings.
We had some bad, rainy, blustery weather as archery season began during the "rut" and I didn't see any deer in my yard for about two weeks. Then, early one morning, I opened the front door to grab the birdfeeder to refill it and startled an eight-point buck in my yard...and he startled me too...and we stopped and quietly admired each other for what seemed like an eternity. Then he did this stately prancing step with his two front hooves...kind of like a reindeer...and stomped off into the thicket. He was so breath-takingly majestic! I whispered a quiet prayer to Artemis/Diana to watch over him and keep him safe from the archers and later in December, from the rifles that hunters will likely aim in his direction.
I am not against hunting. I have eaten venison and find it delicious, yet I feel a connection to this little herd and hope to see them throughout the winter and again in the spring. I have decided to lay some scrub branches beneath the hemlocks that border my property to provide shelter as the weather gets harsh. When I have the trees cut down that are threatening to fall on my new roof, I plan to replace them with smaller native trees that will provide food and shelter: Dogwoods; American Hollies; Crab Apples; Mountain Ash; Hackberry; Serviceberry; Sassafrass; Spicebush. I will likely buy some corn and set it aside to feed them when it snows and covers whatever browse is available.
I have missed this way of life for the past twenty-one years I have been in North Carolina and feel so privileged to be living in such a natural setting again