I moved to the Mayacamas mountains in Sonoma County wine country six years ago. It was a very big change for me. We moved here from Washington, D.C. Our house was in a very nice neighborhood called Cleveland Park. Nevertheless, we had 3,000 vehicles per day on the road in front of our house.
In my new world here in California, we live in the mountains and have maybe one car that passes our house every day – the mailman (when he comes, which is not daily…). This was a very big adjustment for me and the dogs, Sherlock and Watson. The first thing we did on our 21 acres was to put in a dog door and a fence around the house. First things first, right?! The dogs’ needs!
As we were having the fence installed, a little buck wandered in and he immediately imprinted on the dogs. I had no experience with this. Something told me it wasn’t right, but he was soooooo cute. My introduction to wildlife began.
As time progressed, he became even more aggressive about the dogs, especially Sherlock (the white dog with the brown head in the photo). He would sleep right outside the fence and wait for Sherlock to be let out every morning. He would follow Sherlock everywhere and they would run the fence line together. When we would leave the gate to walk, he would follow us. But over time, he started to do things that concerned us, especially when he started jumping on my back.
It turns out, our neighbor was a fawn rescue advocate and was trying to get this buck back into the wild. He had been rescued by a family with dogs when his mother was killed. Thus, the imprinting on the dogs was finally understood.
I was becoming increasingly worried about him and thought it would be best if we discouraged him from coming around. However, one night, my husband left in our ATV for a few minutes and he got through the open gate. He was very aggressive; his eyes were “wild” and he scared me. I went inside, but he came to the glass door and was kind of snorting. I thought he was going to break the door down.
Then, I saw Sherlock outside, his old body lumbering toward the buck. I was scared that the buck might hurt Sherlock, so I went outside with a cane to confront him. Watson came with me.
The buck raised up on his back legs. I tried to scare him off with my cane, but he just knocked it out of my hands with his front paw. It went flying through the air. I was in trouble. He raised up again and starting beating me with his hooves. I knew I had to run. Poor little Watson tried to defend me, but he, too, was tossed aside by the powerful buck. But that distracted him long enough for me to run into the house.
Finally, my husband came back and the noise scared him off. I was not only really scared, but I hurt from where he hit me. The next day, I had bruises all over my chest and back in the shape of hoof marks! They were sore for over a week. We worked with the deer rescue group to have him moved to a more remote location very shortly after this incident. And I learned a lot! Here I was feeling like a bad ass, having never been jumped or even had my purse stolen in the city for over 20 years. Yet, I move to idyllic wine country and I’m beaten up by a little buck!
Moral of the story? It it feels wrong, listen to your instincts. Don’t encourage wild animals. And mostly, beware of deer because they can injure. Watch from a distance. They are beautiful animals, but they are wild and we all need to respect that.