Saturday, August 16, 2008

Shenandoah ... where the deer and the black bears play....

Tonight as I washed dishes I was looking out the kitchen window at the deer in the far end of our backyard under the trees leading into the woods. There were 6-8 of them grazing in the gathering dusk so, not being one to ever let anything stop me from getting away from dishes, I slipped out to the deck to get a better view.

I saw something I had not seen in the backyard before ... a young doe and young buck frolicking and playfully chasing one another almost in a courtship-type fashion. It continued for a while, and they never left the yard as they trotted under the apple trees, around them ... back across to toward the dogwood trees on the other side of the yard ... and back again.

This seemed to be the wrong time of year for something like that ... so I called my wildlife friend and fellow home school parent, Al Bourgeois, of the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries.

Al laughed when I told him about it and said that, yes, it's the wrong time of year for deer to be in heat because little ones would be born in February at this point (deer have a seven-month pregnancy). However, he laughingly said it was probably a young buck and doe ... much like teenagers ... doing lots of experimenting ... much like teenagers ... getting ready for the real games later in the year.

My question was answered. Everytime I have a wildlife question, I know I can turn to Al or another former home school parent David Kocka, also of the Game and Inland Fisheries, for answers.

When black bears came into our yard a few years ago, David answered questions. When a strange, hair-raising noise came out of the dark mountain woods one summer night (it sounded eerily like a human screaming, "Help!"), when coyotes roamed the ridge behind the house, when mountain lion sightings have been reported by neighbors, when black bears are found in Staunton (once a cub went inside the back open door of the CVS Pharmacy in western Staunton about eight years ago) ... Al and David have been there with answers. They trap out nusience black bears, tag and watch cubs, and do all kinds of work in the national forests that surround the SWAC area.

It has been an educational treat throughout the years to know these men and have them as part of our home school community in Augusta County.

So ... tonight in my backyard the deer were practicing for (rein)deer games....

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