A haven perhaps


Since the season started, the deer have been round often. Do they know? Since the guns started blazing they have been coming here. Perhaps they do know. Often they are in pairs, a mother and a young one. Usually they stay close together. The young ones have been among the first to be born this year, almost fully grown, sensible. This morning the young one was a later birth, one of those unruly kids, leaping and gambolling like a little goat, straying further and further from its mother. They grazed along the bramble hedge then back to the corner beneath the alders where they crossed the stream. I thought they’d gone, but Bambi popped up again, by the willows, mother following.

An hour later, they were still there. I took Finbar out for a pee. He didn’t notice them; they didn’t notice us. Mother ambled beneath the alders and crossed the stream at the place where I go to pass the time of day with the frogs who sit in a patch of sun on the bank. Ten minutes later, Bambi frisked out of the ditch beneath one of the willows. Looked about for ma. Frisked up towards the house, looking around all the time for mother. Then he ran. Bounded. But not in fright, not to run from anything, with the simple joie de vivre that I recognised from watching Finbar do the same. He ran almost a hundred yards along the stream then ran all the way back again. He ran, skipping and leaping in deer-twists back and forth, with no other thought than amusement. Same long legs, same careless leaping through brambles and over obstacles, but lighter than a big racing dog, less powerful but with more grace.

Back and forth, skip, jump, brisk shake of the head. Ears prick. Ma? I imagined his mother, sighing to herself at the other side of the stream, maybe settled down to wait. No calling, quiet. Eventually he trotted over to the track that goes over the stream by the frogs’ place. I saw the white scut in the shade as he sauntered back to his mother. Perhaps to get a clip around the ear.


Carless joy beneath

a milky sky—wild children


Published by

Jane Dougherty

I used to do lots of things I didn't much enjoy. Now I am officially a writer. It's what I always wanted to be.

31 thoughts on “A haven perhaps”

  1. I love this scene you describe. I think I told you about the young deer I saw early one morning who started calling for his mother with his plaintive bleating. It was so adorable–especially as there were no hunters or predators about.

      1. I don’t know that foxes do. Not even weasels. They kill more than they can eat if they get a chance, but it’s with the intention of coming back for the rest later. They don’t mind meat that’s partly decomposed. It’s all good.

      2. It’s what I read. It’s unusual for a predator to find so many easy targets altogether, so he/she goes wild, killing everything, taking away what he can carry, but hoping that the rest will be there for another time. They do that when they get into a burrow or drey, kill them all and go back for the rest later. Survival tactics.

      1. That must be a disturbing thought…a concern we have here too…that hunters will come too close, there being no fence (which doesn’t stop bullets anyway).

      2. There’s the very grey area about who the ‘kill’ belongs to as well. If someone shoots an animal in your property does he have the right to walk in and take it? There have been a lot of cases lately where not only householders but whole villages, the mayor included have come out to prevent hunters finishing off an animal they’ve been hunting that has sheltered in somebody’s back garden. The hunters claim that is they are chasing an animal they have the right to pursue it to death. Ordinary non-hunters are beginning to say, no you don’t.

      3. Sounds like there are too many hunters and I don’t understand how they think their rights extend over property lines. Anyway this sort of conflict has some similarity with the one in the States over wolves…those protecting them vs those who want to hunt them for sport or see them as a threat to livestock ( I just read a book called ‘American Wolf’)

      4. It’s a difficult subject in rural areas. We take all the land, rip out the trees and hedges, spray it with pesticides so nothing can live on it, plant stuff that needs more pesticides to survive, and when a deer comes along and nibbles around the edges we shot it because it’s damaging crops. We fence in all the land everywhere and get angry if a wild animal dares to try and live there too.

    1. I hope so. They were round this way again this morning, but husband was out there with his scythe, his whetstone and his police whistle. A couple of dogs came through the hedge but no men, and there were no shots. Whatever was hiding in the hedge stayed put.

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