Just a few steps from the house I looked up and spotted a mule deer. She was about 10 metres away grazing in the grass. She looked up, saw me and continued on with supper.
This was surprising. First, deer don’t usually let me get this close. And second, this was a mule deer. Until this evening I’d seen only white tails in the yard. This doe was a special treat.
As she moved through the grass I followed behind, fumbling with my camera bag trying to change lenses. She seemed unconcerned.
With the telephoto I got a shock. Much of the hair was missing from her face and around the base of both ears. There are cougars in the bush. Had she been attacked? A longer look suggested not. The overall effect was of something smaller. Ticks? Lice? Mites? Although she seemed to be feeding normally, in certain light I could see her ribs. Not a good sign for this time of year.
Animals face many dangers in the wild from which they will recover. Or not. Predators. Human hunters. Parasites. Disease. Broken legs. An eye lost to a tree branch. Feral dogs. Cars and trucks on the roads.
She was coping in the way wild things do. I watched her drift into the bush. There was nothing I could do but hope she would recover.
Mule deer Odocoileus hemionus