Saturday, November 7, 2009

Rut What?

Yes, it’s that time of year again. The time when the white tailed deer around here are in rut. Yes, rut--when deer develop mad crushes on each other and get wild-eyed and aggressive, jumpy and high strung—totally focused on mating. Think college/university frat party. Think late night bar scene. Except that the bucks have been preparing for the rut for about eight months. By preparing, I mean that they have been growing antlers. Why? So they can slam and ram and kick other buck butt. When rut is over, those bucks will shed their antlers and mellow out. Think the day after the frat party. Think worn out after working the bars.

This whole rut business becomes kind of a big deal if you live, as I do, in an area where the majority of the population is made up of white-tailed deer. An area with so many deer that they are practically allowed to vote in local elections. Okay, I don’t know that for a fact, but it’s not a bad guess. To give you an idea: The overgrown area behind our house is home to twenty to thirty deer. Once in a while, when I get up early enough and the deer sleep in, I’ll spot them sleeping back there, all curled up and snuggled together like puppies. Adorable. It was the perfect inspiration when I was writing Buck Fever.

BUT, when these beautiful animals go into rut, I get as jumpy as they do. Most people who live with deer do. Because when in rut, the bambies leap or dash out in front of cars and bolt in every direction for reasons known only to them. In just the past two weeks I’ve seen countless deer bodies along the sides of highways and roads. It’s heartbreaking, but a sign of the rut.

Yesterday, when I drove down a side street, I suddenly realized that it was lined on either side with deer of various sizes. Usually I’d slow down. Yesterday, aware of their party mentality, my car and I CRAWLED past them. I mean, a box turtle could have passed me. Because one of the deer could have leaped out at any moment. I actually know someone who had a deer leap off an embankment onto the hood of his car. No joke. Who needs the horror of (a) hitting a deer or (b) damaging a car. Been there, done that. No need to revisit past nightmares.

So, from now until about December, those of us who share space with white-tails will live in jittery, nerve wracking states while the deer party down. And come springtime, there will be wobbly-legged, spotted babies trotting beside their much more mellow parents. Ahh, nature.

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