One day in early June 1956, I head for Marys Peak—the highest mountain in the Coast Range of western Oregon—to think about my decision to enter the military. It was a clear, cool night with a full Moon. I lay against a large log under a small, bark lean-to at the edge of a little, grassy clearing in a virgin forest of huge, ancient noble fir trees. Since I had not built a fire and I was downwind, the mother black-tailed deer did not detect my presence as she quietly crossed the meadowy area and stopped within twenty to thirty feet of my head. Between her and me, a bright shaft of moonlight filtered through the tall firs and lighted a small place in the meadow.
As the doe started feeding, her fawn discovered the moonbeam. With head outstretched and nostrils flaring, it approached the light—its legs stiff and tucked well beneath its body for instant flight. The youngster “snorted” suddenly and fled to its mother, whose head snapped erect at the sound. The fawn nursed, and its mother returned to eating.
Fawns greeting each other.
During the next half hour or so the fawn alternately struck the light with its forefeet, kicked it with its hind feet while twisting sideways in the air, and raced through it. These feats of daring were often interrupted by sudden returns to its mother. At such times, the fawn usually went to the far side of the doe and, with its head under her belly, and observed the moonbeam from safety. After a few seconds, however, it again engaged the light. As the doe gradually drifted away from the light, the fawn ceased its play.
Text and Photo © by Chris Maser 2012. All rights reserved.
Excerpted from my book, “Mammals of the Pacific Northwest: From the Coast to the Cascades.” Oregon State University Press, Corvallis, OR. (1998) 406 pp.
If you want more information about this book or want to purchase it, visit “BOOKS” on my website.