the set of observable characteristics of an individual resulting from the interaction of its genotype with the environment.

Back in 2017 I was privileged to find a bunch of mule deer friends. There was a buck and four or five does and one young deer. The buck was very fierce and stately and carried a large bush on his head. The does were very curious about Bear and me, and the buck was more wary. Over time — since I hiked at the same time every day — they got used to us and I would often see them hiding under the train cars at the golf course, and watched as they followed us to the end of our hike, about a mile to our turn around point and the gate. Sometimes we would just stand and watch each other. Then came a day when a doe wanted to get closer. I had to tell her that was a very bad plan.

Deer do NOT belong with people.

It was hunting season and they’d found good cover in a bramble of willows and beneath oil tanker cars on the rail road track.

Meanwhile, all over the San Luis Valley, hunters had adorned themselves in phenotypical clothing and were dressed as bushes. They were crawling through the willow brambles, stalking the deer, elk, whatever they had a license for. While I don’t have a problem with hunting (ungulate over-population is a legitimate problem out here) I knew that getting “my” deer too used to me would be the worst thing that could happen to them. I stopped visiting them. I still miss them and cherish the time we spent “together.”

My own phenotypical adjustment to living here has been slow and steady. The most recent manifestation is advertising on the Livestock Guardian Dog Facebook Page that I’m an artist and have a couple of Christmas card designs featuring livestock guardian dogs. This morning I got a commission. That NEVER would have happened if I hadn’t moved here, adopted and been inspired by Bear and the rest is history.

17 thoughts on “Ch-ch-ch-changes

  1. Here, deer and elk, especially elk, are part of the community. We do coexist, but cautiously. There is a healthy respect on both sides. Fear? Not often, but sometimes, depending. It’s deer season now. Elk season is in a few weeks. There is no hunting allowed on the west side of 101. Guess where they are this time of year? Yep.

  2. Have you ever tried going back when it wasn’t hunting season? Every so often I will come upon a little family of deer (well, I call them a family because there’s a male & a female and a little one) when I am taking a walk – either on the path in the woods or on the street. We’ll stare at each other for up to a minute and when they decide I am “okay” they’ll cross by one by one. It is very cool.

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