A buck standing at attention in the morning fog.
A buck standing at attention in the morning fog.

My family’s land is located in the mountains of Northern California.   Because of this, we are surrounded by woods teeming with wildlife.  Most people see a deer and think, “So cute!!”  Although we admire the buck’s beauty, we also see the animal that decimated our olive orchard last spring.

Whenever I walk I almost always catch a glimpse of a deer or two out in a meadow.   Maybe a rabbit might dart across my path or a coyote will howl in the distance.  Dusk is one of my favorite times to walk.   The sky turns so many colors, and the way the light shimmers thru the trees can be breathtaking.   I often find myself daydreaming as I slowly wander down the road.   Seeing a mushroom here or a pile of poop there.

However, walking at dusk has its disadvantages.   As I mentioned before, we are in the wilderness, and with the grazers comes the carnivores.   Mountain lions are aplenty here.   My father and brother have both been stalked multiple times at night.   Now they don’t go out in the dark without a gun.   Dusk is the time for hunting.  Deer (and unfortunately humans’) eyesight is poorest during these late hours of the day.   And mountain lions know this and take advantage.  Luckily I have never been on foot when I’ve spotted a lion (although I’ve definitely gotten the chills like someone is watching me attentively) but I have seen two while driving.   One I only caught a glimpse of a backside with tail.   But the other I was able to see the entire animal, or at least I hope it was all of him.   His head was going off one bank of the road while his tail was still in the bushes on the other side!  He was gone before I had a chance to absorb how huge he really was!  Without tail he had to have been at least 10 feet long.

We’ve never had an animal attack on our land (although they have happened recently in the surrounding area).  We do find deer carcasses quiet often, which is a delight to the dogs.  And although it can be kind of scary to have natural born hunters creeping thru the woods outside your bedroom window, we love it.   Having a healthy ecosystem means we can be secure in the knowledge our land remains abundant and safe, just the way we want it.

Stephanie ~ 1/27/09