An admitted shoe geek waxes philosophical about running, triathlon, and life in general.
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Friday, October 30, 2015

They're getting kind of stupid out there.

While that title could relate to a lot of things going on in the world right now, I'm referring to an annual event... Okay, not really an "event" so much as a season. 

It's that time of year when young cervidae's fancy turns to lust.

Yep, the deer are entering the rut season, and with it, their intellect sinks to new lows. The bucks, anyway. It's like, between their brains and their loins, they only have enough blood to operate one at a time.

It's not unusual for me to see a few deer on my lunchtime mountain bike rides around the facility where I have my day job. Hundreds of fenced-in and wooded acres provides a nice home, and it's a rare day when I don't see at least one. Sometimes I'll see them more than once as I make multiple loops -- they don't venture far, and tend to return when they think I'm gone. But they also usually high-tail it into the woods as soon as they see me...

But not today.

Twice I had to hit the brakes to avoid hitting bucks that were staring straight at me before they would yield the double-track. Vocal warnings, which usually help them determine that I am human, were of no avail.

The first was a young buck with spike antlers no more than four inches long that stood just inside the fenceline, not 50 yards from where a school bus was letting the morning kindergarteners off. I was on a slight decline, so my speed was decent, but being on gravel, I was making a fair bit of crunchy tire noises. That did nothing more than get its attention, but it still just stood there, staring at me.

"Are you going to move or something?" I asked out loud.

Apparently not. It wasn't until I was within 20 feet and on the brakes that this fine specimen decided it would trot off into the trees. I laughed it off and kept on my way.

But the other one I wasn't so sure about.

Nearing the end of my ride time, I bypassed a new trail that a friend and I had cut just a few weeks earlier (being VERY wet) and took the service road around. It takes two small descents of just a feet, but fairly steep, before rejoining the main and more traveled dirt road back to the plant. As I crested the first drop, I could see a nice buck in the road. It saw me and quickly ran left. But then I saw the other one... Just as big, sporting a good 4-points-per-side rack, and standing proudly in the smack-dab-middle of the road. Then the doe ran into the road from the right. And the musky smell hit me.

Yep, I believe I had just interrupted the "macho brawl over a woman" of the deer world, and it's something to be very careful about. I slowed WAY down as the doe exited left, but the buck remained brazenly staring me down. I watched for any hint that he would lower his head and charge me. Those antlers are pretty darn sharp, and with a couple hundred pounds of angry deer flesh behind them, can do lethal damage. As I made it to within an easy stone's lob, however, it turned and trotted away from me, right down the very path I had intended.

I didn't quite consider myself "out of the woods" yet, so I remained in alert for the deer to turn on me. I disappeared around a corner, and as I made my way around the same corner, I heard him crash through the brush to my right.

The rest of the ride went without incident, fortunately.

It's kind of cool to see the deer on the company grounds so often. Thankfully, this season is fairly short. Within a couple weeks the hormone laden deer will be back to normal, running away from any human.


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