The Buck Stots Here..........
Mule deer (Odocoileus hemionus), Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge, New Mexico, America.
Bosque del Apache translates from French to English "Woods of the Apache". The Apaches wintered here along the Rio Grande river because it was incredibly rich with wildlife, especially beginning with Fall waterbird migrations. It still is!
During my first visit in November 2010, I estimate that I saw tens of thousands of Snow Geese and Sandhill Cranes and thousands of ducks in a variety of species. I saw groups of coyotes hunting the gravel road/woodland edges.....right in midday. Using binocs, I spotted them at a great distance and slid into the woods and settled in silence to try to ambush one of them for an image........no luck. But I am quite certain I'll get them next time.
All the spurs (dead-end roads) coming off the main loop roads were gated off, prohibiting public entry........because the biologists said there was a high incidence of mountain lion sightings. Mountain lions know where concentrations of deer are and they stay right near them. Bosque has a large population of mule deer. You can often see them in groups, bedded down and looking at you through the woods.
This buck persisted with his intent on getting around me and behind me to the big woods on the other side of this gravel road. I am standing still, right in the open. Here he is flanking me and about to cross into the big woods. When he did I followed him for a short ways.
It was open habitat and although he did not look back at me, he was most aware that I was following because his ears were directed back toward me as he hurried away. I watched him getting deeper and deeper into the big woods.
AND MOST SURPRISING TO ME WAS WHEN HE BROKE INTO THAT ODD GATE THAT I HAVE NEVER SEEN IN A WHITE-TAILED DEER IN MAINE:
ALL HOOVES HIT THE GROUND SIMULTANEOUSLY AS HE SPRANG UP AND DOWN, BOUNCING AWAY........"BOING, BOING, BOING", JUST LIKE SOME OF THOSE CHARACTERS IN A WARNER BROTHERS CARTOON.....AND HE DISAPPEARED INTO THE BIG WOODS. UPDATE NOVEMBER 2013: I HAVE JUST LEARNED THAT THIS PARTICULAR GATE HAS A TECHNICAL NAME. IT IS NAMED "STOTTING". SO THIS MULE DEER BROKE INTO A STOTTING GATE WHEN IT LEFT ME IN THE WOODS.