It has been a great fall for taking outdoor photos. No frozen fingers or dropped equipment as I change from gloved to ungloved hands. For several weeks, though, my walks will be limited to the immediate yard. Even then I will be wary, for deer hunting season has begun here in West Virginia. 12 year olds with guns roam the woods. We lock our gate and let it be known that we don't want strangers hunting our woods and fields, but one property line is near the house. From my back door I can see a deer stand and another from the barn. This morning as I reloaded the feeders, three doe leaped into the woods across from the house. I tried to leave quickly so that they would stick close by where they are more safe. I understand the need for hunting and even a bit of the thrill involved. For many people, deer (or venison for you city folks) is an important part of the winter diet. Most homes in rural West Virginia include a recipe for deer jerky. I worry about the deer that are not killed quickly, only maimed. Last winter and spring we had a doe hobbling around with a healed broken leg. The leg flopped behind her as she ran on three heathy legs. Soon after she was shot, Jeff tried to find her before the dogs or disease did. We were surprised when the leg healed and she lived. She disappeared, though in late spring, probably victim to dogs or a poacher.
We have a proud beautiful buck sharing our woods with us. He has survived the past 3 winters. Last year he disappeared during hunting season. We were sure he was gone, only to be surprised when he reappeared in early spring. While he is wary and always the first to run, we did get to see him over the summer and early fall. The lone apple tree on the hill with its fruit full off calories and sweetness was too enticing for him to ignore.