Wednesday, February 8, 2012

A "Ripley's Believe It Or Not" Tale

With the very minimal cover of snow we have in our area this year, it would be my guess that the deer are not being bothered greatly by their natural predator, the timber wolf. When the snow is deep it hinders the deer in running away and escaping a pack of hungry wolves.

It may not be something we enjoy thinking about but it's one of those laws of nature that one specie feeds another. Deer and wolves have both been surviving in our area for many more years than man has been present. Their own method of checks and balances is one with which we perhaps should not interfere.

Neither Papa Pea nor I have seen a timber wolf this winter but we have seen tracks in fresh snow in various spots around the property.

We have many deer and we frequently encounter them as we go in or out of our driveway through the woods. They also have well-trodden paths through the woods and we see them crossing our small hay field often going from one wooded area to another.

There is a particularly big deer that seems to get great pleasure from standing at the curve of the driveway at the bottom of the hay field and taunting the granddogs. The deer stands like a statue glaring as the dogs bound out to the perimeter of their fenced in area barking up a storm. Smart deer knows the dogs can't get close enough to give him a run for his money.

Watching this scenario being played out again a few minutes ago reminded me of a very unusual wolf/deer encounter Papa Pea and I saw and heard years ago.

It was early summer time and we were living on our first piece of property in this area. Papa Pea was out in the west field cutting hay when out of the corner of his eye, he saw a deer burst out of the woods to the south followed in hot pursuit by a wolf. The pair streaked across the open field and disappeared into the woods partially separating our house area from the west field. Papa Pea shut off the tractor and because the windows of the house were all open, I looked out to see if he had a problem. I had not seen the deer and wolf chase as he had so all I saw was him sitting on the tractor staring into the thick woods.

We knew that a doe had birthed twin fawns that spring and was raising them in the big patch of woods. It was into this very area that the deer closely followed by the wolf disappeared. As Papa Pea watched this drama play out, we heard the screaming of what I assumed was most likely the little fawns. Not having seen the deer or the wolf going into the woods, I had no idea what was going on but knew immediately something had happened to the fawns and they were in trouble.

It seemed no more than seconds had passed before both Papa Pea and I heard the sounds of animals crashing about wildly in the woods. Before either of us had a chance to do anything, out of the woods going back in the direction they had come were the deer and wolf. But this time, and we could hardly believe what we were seeing, the wolf was running flat out as fast as he possibly could with the deer chasing him! It was apparently the mama deer and she. was. mad. Both wolf and deer went down the steep hill to the creek and up the opposite bank and disappeared into the woods.

Papa Pea was about to venture into the woods to see if he could locate the fawns, not knowing what carnage he would find.

Before he even got across the field to enter the woods, mama deer came running back again and straight into where her fawns were.

We decided going into the woods with this already extremely upset deer was not the best idea and made the decision to let nature take its course.

The ending to this bizarre happening was a happy one. The fawns survived the incident unscathed. We never knew what actually happened when the fawns, the doe and the wolf were in the woods for those couple of minutes.

All we knew for sure was that the fawns had had a very scary encounter and now knew what The Big Bad Wolf looked like.

24 comments:

Jane @ Hard Work Homestead said...

OMG what a great story! I am so glad that had a happy ending, I was getting nervous there for a while. Just goes to show you that you dont **bleep** with a Mama!

Sue said...

What a good and courageous Mama Deer. And proof that Hell Hath No Fury.........like a ticked off mother deer-LOL!
Great story!

Sparkless said...

Not such a happy ending for the wolf though. LOL! My parents live on the edge of a bank and they have deer who winter in the trees just down from their house. It's strange to see them laying in the snow under the trees. The only thing they have to worry about are dogs and people and maybe a wild turkey or two.

Erin said...

another great story! Interesting that now the wolf has been de-listed and they were talking about hunting to control numbers, they may be going hungry without being able to catch the weaker deer. Darwinism, eh?

dr momi said...

That had to be somthing to see!! (and hear). Good thing Papa Pea didn't go into the woods after all that, I do believe Mama Deer would have run him off too!

judy said...

Lip biting,I listen,fascinated,glad for the positive outcome.We came home late last friday night after attending birthday party for 2 of the boys. it was about 9:00 p.m. and 2 blocks from the house there were 3 deer [ young ones ] in a front yard. 1/2 blocks from the house there is a buck standing right on the door step of another house,here I thought they had a bow hunt for so many [ too many deer in the area.afraid to let the little ones out to much pasty dusk,you could get trampled.

The Weekend Homesteader said...

Great story! We don't have wolves around here, but we do have coyotes.

Dirt Lover said...

What a cool story! Something that most people will never be able to see. Glad the little fawns were ok. A mad mama is nobody to mess with!
~~Lori

Poppy said...

Mama Pea,

This story is a testament to the fury of a protective mama! Poor wolf not only didn't get his dinner, got the bejezzuz scared out of him!

Mama Pea said...

Jane - I had planned on including almost exactly your last line as part of my post but then forgot and left it out!

Sue - I like your line, too!

Sparkless - It sure is great to be able to see wildlife right outside your window as your parents do.

Erin - Yup, I can't say I agree with the de-listing though. I think it will just lead to mass slaughter of the wolves.

dr momi - The next chase we would have seen would have been Papa Pea running from Mama Deer, no doubt. She was not in a mood to "talk things out" with anyone or any thing at that point!

judy - Wow, you must have a huge herd congregated by/in your town.

The Weekend Homesteader - We have coyotes here, too. And some say they're more dangerous than the wolves because they are often in bigger packs than the wolves.

Lori - That protective instinct sure comes through loud and strong. In animals and humans!

Poppy - I've heard a deer can kill a single wolf with his/her hooves. When wolves bring down a deer it's usually 3 to 4 of them that surround the deer which doesn't give the deer much of a chance.

Wendy said...

So glad your story had a happy ending...I love wolves but baby deer are just so precious and I would have hated to know that the wolf had gotten one....amazing how even an animal mother will protect her young when threatened...thank you for sharing this story.

Stephanie said...

Isn't life amazing! We have spent many years watching the deer and other animals behind my parent's home, on the 17 acres they have. Great story!

Jenyfer Matthews said...

I'll bet that wolf has never heard the end of it from the other wolves either!

Mama Pea said...

Wendy - That's it, you can't really blame the wolf and make him the bad guy in the story. He, obviously, was just hungry.

Stephanie - There are probably incidences like this being played out in nature every day. We just aren't privy to seeing them.

Jen - Shhhh! I don't think he shared this information with the others. ;o}

Leigh said...

Very good story Mama Pea, and well told! Something to think about because most of us with urban backgrounds tend to think of nature as gentle and fragile. It's hard sometimes to not interfere, even with good intentions. Can't say deer are on the top of our beloved creatures list though, because of the damage they do in the garden. Still, a happy ending always makes us smile.

Mama Pea said...

Leigh - Same here regarding fondness for the deer. We have so many of them (and always stop and marvel when seeing them . . . they are so marvelously "made" and adapted to their environment!) that they are a real danger on the roads and will absolutely destroy gardens and plantings . . . like completely! We've had to put up a 7' high fence around our veggie gardens and berry plantings. Some people say they just plant more to share with the deer, but these aren't folks who are trying to grow most of their own food. We once lost 21 fruit trees going into their second year of growth in one night to the darling deer.

Katidids said...

Wow, that would have been a sight to see! That mama was not allowing her babies to be part of the food chain. Good thing you held off venturing in those woods, there has been many hurt by those dull edge knife like hooves.

Anonymous said...

Wonderful spellbinding story, Mama Pea!! Predators are everywhere; however, I'd rather deal with the 4 legged kinds in the country than those urban two leggeds;/ Well, on second thought...we had a bonafide cougar sighting on our frontage last summer. Yikes! I so love reading your homestead stories!!!-"M"

Chicken Mama said...

Excellent story, Mama! How old was I? Can't remember hearing this one, but I must have. LOVE these stories! xoxox

Susan said...

I was sitting on the edge of my seat! There is such drama in the country!!! Wouldn't you have loved to have that on tape? You are a naturally born story-teller, you are.

Mama Pea said...

Katidids - Especially since she was very, very upset at that point! I've often wondered what happened that she stopped chasing the wolf and came back to her fawns. Did he put on the after-burners and disappear from her sight or did she run him down and give him a good trouncing with her hooves?

"M" - I'd still lean towards having a confrontation with the four-legged creatures! Those cougars in your area have got to be thriving because of so many sightings in the last few years!

Chicken Mama - You were probably about 5 or 6. (The stories may not be in book form, but at least I'm getting them down. You may paste a Gold Star on my forehead next time we see each other!)

Susan - After all these years, I still have that image in my mind of the wolf being chased across the field by that doe. I know we humans tend to give animals human characteristics, but you could just see the fire shooting out of the mama deer's eyes, mouth and nose as she ran with her head and neck stretched out like she was going to bit the wolf in the butt!

Linda said...

That was a GREAT story!

Karen L. said...

What an unusual story! Hope you are putting that one in the book you are/are going to write. There is no doubt in my mind that the balance of nature is a teeter-totter and needs to be handled very carefully .... or perhaps I should say not handled at all as in left alone mostly. About six months or so ago, I saw a program on TV about Aldo Leopold. It went into great detail about how the killing of wolves had upset the balance of nature in a certain area .... not sure if it was MN or not as I cannot remember where the location was. Anyway, there were three time frames of photos/video shown. First was when wolves were prevalent. Second was after the years of extreme wolf killing by humans. Third was after wolves had be introduced back into the area for several years. The big difference in the photos was that the middle set showed huge loss of vegetation compared to the first photos due to over eating of deer and such. The last set of photos showed how the vegetation (trees, grasses, bushes, weeds, etc.) were all coming back and the areas along a stream now had trees growing and grasses filling in along the stream. You could see new growth everywhere. I understand the problems farmers have with their stock in relationship to the wolves but there have been a number of methods used to combat the loss of sheep, etc. to wolves that have worked out quite well. Like everything else, it takes education and trial and error to make this work. Without predators, we would surely be overrun by other animals to the point of disaster. We are seeing a build up of coyotes in NC and there is talk of making it legal to shoot them. We will see how that plays out. I know I sometimes interfere with a "nature outcome" when I shouldn't but sometimes it's just impossible to not help a young bird, rabbit, etc. when you see what is going to happen otherwise. Not a big deal but still ..... We do need to be careful about where we mess around.

Mama Pea said...

Linda - Thanks so much! I'm glad you enjoyed it.

Karen L. - I'm not sure where man ever got the idea that he knows how to handle and manage other species better than nature does. We've screwed up so much in our world, you would think we'd learn our lesson in this respect also. 'Course, we don't seem to be learning and/or changing for the better in a lot of things so . . .