Monday, December 05, 2011

December ain't what it used to be

Early December sunset from the cabin
Though December is barely started, already I can say that my warmer than normal November is turning into a warmer than normal December. The forecast for the next week or so continues that trend, though several upcoming days appear to be headed more towards normal than above normal. The result of the temperature and the rain forest-like precipitation experienced at Roundtop this year is that the forest around my cabin doesn’t look much like December. If I was being especially curmudgeonly today, I’d say it barely looks like late October.

Of course, that would be the late October of 20-30 years ago, not the late October of the past 5-10 years. Taking more recent history into consideration, I’d say the forest looks like almost mid-November. Still, I finally have back my full view out the western windows to gaze on all winter. Sometime in May, the woods will grow so thick that I won’t see a sunset again until roughly this point of the year. I actually have more sunlight in winter than in summer, despite the fewer hours of daylight now.

With one week of deer season gone and the second just starting, so far the semi-tame doe and her two fawns have survived. I saw all three of them this morning, safe at the bottom of my lane for the night. The problem is that they don’t stay where they are safe. They wander out on the abandoned ski slope to graze, but so far the hunters have ventured deeper into the woods and the trio has been safe.

Hunters seeking venison for the winter tend to get less picky about the deer they will take as the season progresses. At first, they want that good-sized buck, by which they normally mean a big deer with a big rack of antlers. If, after several days of hunting, such a creature does not materialize, they downsize their expectations to any sized buck with a legal rack. If that one doesn’t play out, by the end of the season they have doe season for several days, where just about anything goes. So this white-tailed family has a ways to go before the toughest thing they will have to deal with is the upcoming winter.

What worries me is that their tameness could be their undoing. Deer are curious, and these are no exception. It’s their curiosity that has caused them to become half-tame. I wouldn’t be surprised if they would walk right up to a hunter or a tree stand, just to check it out and see what it was. Normally, I don’t pay much attention to deer, mostly because it’s hard to tell one from another. I have watched this doe and her fawns all summer, from when the fawns were tiny, spotted things, just testing their feet for the first time on a dirt road and watching me walk by with the dogs. I think of them as neighbors now and hope they remain so.


Cathy said...

Yea, enough of the warm temps. It was great last week when I went Christmas shopping but need the colder air for some holiday snowflakes.

Scott said...

Carolyn, I can certainly sympathize and empathize with you about the deer family, I really can. But here, we've got about 10x more deer than would allow the forest to regenerate naturally. So, while I hate to see any of them killed, I also want the forest to have chance to regenerate without my having to put a cage or a tree shelter around every sapling in the woods. A real dilemma...