Back in mid June, I was rudely awakened before the crack of dawn because our little cat had jumped up on the night table and was pawing at the blinds. She just sat down and looked at me when I asked her (not so nicely) “What the #@$! are you doing?” I rolled back over with the intention of going back to sleep, but she immediately started pawing at the window again.
She obviously doesn’t understand enough about human body language, because she just stood there looking at me as if she had no concern for her personal safety while I was giving her the “stink eye”. I made the Dog Whisperer’s “Shhhhh” sound at her to let her know I didn’t like it.
Yes, I use the Shhhhh or Pssssst sound on the cats to get their attention and redirect their behaviors. But in order for it to work, you have to follow through. No following through now. I rolled over again and tried to go back to sleep and at the same moment, was teaching her to ignore all foolish sounds I make. Ten seconds didn’t go by and she was at it again.
I bounced out of the bed, but could only stagger to the window. She just stood there looking at me. I felt like Kevin Costner in Dances with Wolves when he “met” Kicking Bird for the first time and stood there scratching his behind. She was acting excited as if she were finally able to communicate the importance of opening the window. I peeked through the blind and didn’t see anything, but my eyes couldn’t focus yet and it was dark.
I must not have had enough cat stink on me because she immediately got busy fixing that problem by rubbing up against me. As I raised the blind, she jumped up on the window sill and immediately went into the “cat point” position. My eyes were starting to focus now and I could see something across the road in the neighbors yard. Wow! That is a nice buck!
We have many deer and even had elk come through the neighborhood during the Winter, but we don’t usually have deer visit the neighbor hood this late in June. But there he was… a very nice, wide, thick beamed 4X4, that was obviously still in full velvet. There was plenty of time left this season for those antlers to grow even more. The buck was eating leaves off the neighbors strawberries.
He took his time and searched for those special strawberry leaves, biting them off one at a time and ignoring all others. When he found and ate that last special leaf, he popped his head up and trotted back across the road heading toward my back yard. Now the cat was craning her neck to follow the buck around the corner. That was cool I thought. Not a bad way to wake up. Cat forgiven. The next thought was “What is he doing in the backyard?” Then I remembered that the corn just started coming up.
Now I’m thinking that @#$% is going to eat my corn! I’m as interested as much as the next guy (maybe even more so) in improving range conditions for mule deer, but this guy is supposed to be getting his home cooking further up the hill in the sage this time of year.
I raced downstairs and peeked through the blinds at the back door. There he was, eating the black sunflower seeds out of the bird feeder. Man that was quick. He didn’t waste anytime “bee-lining” to the feeder. Then I saw what must have been the original buck walking across the grass toward the feeder. There were two of them and these guys must have been twins.
Now “short stuff” had pushed her way between my legs and was looking out the back door. When she saw the two bucks, she instantly assumed the cat point position again. We sat there and watched the second buck empty the bird feeder while the first buck cleaned up the crumbs. Then they started down the fence toward the corn.
Years ago, I had broken my own rule about not living anywhere I can’t pee off the back porch. I have neighbors to consider, so I am not in the habit of going out on the deck in my “drawers”, but I’m pretty protective of my sweet corn and this was starting to look serious. I slid the door open and stepped out onto the deck and went straight to the rail where the cat was already waiting on me. She had full radar lock on deer and now they had full lock on me as well.
I expected them to jump the little 4 foot welded wire fence and head out across the neighbors yard, but they just stood there, 14-16 yards away and looked back at me. Dang, where’s my camera? Probably light enough now for a good pic. I’ll just have to make do with filing this one away in my head, at least until Al takes over and I lose this memory (Al Hammer?, Al Heimer?, never mind, I never can remember that last name).
These bucks obviously knew that the people they run into in town are different creatures than the ones they run into in the bush, but the buck that is closest to me started to get a little nervous and the radar lock he had on me with his ears was starting to break, with one ear alternating from me, toward the fence and back towards me again. I didn’t want them to panic and hurt themselves on the fence, so I back up a few steps and that seemed to take the pressure off.
Both bucks finally moved a few steps away towards the corner of the yard. My “pointing cat” moved to the end of the deck and stuck her head between the rails to get a better view. I almost chuckled out loud when one of the bucks focused more on her than he did on me. The bucks seemed to relax and even started to take a few bites from the weeds that were growing in my yet to be completed landscape area.
I didn’t know what the plant was, so I had to look it up: Prickly lettuce (Lactuca serriola) – turns out to be a very common item in mule deer diet and it’s even edible for humans). Here they stood in the midst of lettuce, spinach, carrots, cucumber, corn, peas, beans, potatoes and peppers and they were eating prickly lettuce (and it is prickly). I guess they wanted home cooking after all. I’ll stick with the un-prickly lettuce.
The bucks slowly worked their way up the side fence and continued to browse on the prickly lettuce. They paid me and the cat very little attention. When they moved right up to the corn patch, I could feel my horns rising and the fangs start to come out. One walked straight past and the other walked straight through the corn but kept moving. Then as if hit with a cattle prod, they jumped the fence and were gone. I heard their hoof hitting the asphalt, then I heard nothing.
I looked down at my cat where she was straining to see the deer through the rails on the deck. I asked her “What do you think about that? She looked back at me and said the same thing she always says. I went inside to start the coffee and gave my little mule deer pointing cat her favorite food instead of that old dry stuff she gets everyday. I like having a pointing cat. I wonder if she would be any good in the field?