WHEN NATURE SHOWS OFF HER LITTLE ONES

Being an outdoors-oriented person brings with it a number of satisfying things. You get to sneak out in the woods during hunting season and try to outsmart whichever wild game species you’re hunting.

            Our lakes, ponds and streams are laden with bluegills and bass and catfish and goggle-eyes just waiting to come home with you for a swim in Lake Crisco. The catching is exciting; the eating divine.

            There are times, though, when we’re out and about without gun or rod and nature’s youngsters enthrall us as they go about doing what little wild critters do.

            Last Sunday as Kay and I were approaching our driveway after church, something caught our eye in the pasture across the road. A doe was standing there with a tiny fawn nursing her not 15 yards from the pasture fence. We were mesmerized as we watched the doe prance away, the fawn in shaky pursuit, apparently not having finished lunch. Movement under the fence caught our eye and there on unsteady legs stood a second fawn that instinctively dropped to the ground to hide in the sparse grass.

            Kay took my cell phone and approached to within three feet of the day old fawn and was able to snap a photo before the little fellow, scarcely larger than an house cat, stood and wobbled as best it could toward mama who slowed down to wait for her baby. You could pay good money to be entertained at a concert but it wouldn’t have even come close to matching the thrill we got from observing that scene.

            Once while raking pine straw from my yard, I noticed a small burrow with a little lump showing in the straw at my feet. Thinking it could have been a snake making the hole and lump, I carefully moved the straw a bit and observed a tiny bundle of fur. A newborn cottontail rabbit no larger than a tennis ball crouched motionless. I picked up the tiny rabbit for a moment to show it to my wife before carefully placing it back in its burrow. I got my yard raked but there was one particular foot square patch of straw with a burrow and lump that remained untouched.

            I was turkey hunting in Texas several years ago on a ranch that had lots of turkeys. Having built a crude blind from mesquite logs and branches alongside a dim ranch road, I settled in to try and call in a gobbler.

            After nearly an hour of hearing nothing, I crawled from my blind on all fours to sneak a peek down the road to see if I could spot a gobbler. Having seen none, I turned to crawl back to my blind ten yards away when I heard a loud “PUTT”. Turning slowly, my gaze met that of eight juvenile gobblers – “jakes” – standing with necks outstretched trying to identify what that crawling lump of camouflage was.

            As I slowly made my way back to the blind, I turned and to my surprise, the jakes were following me! Curiosity lured them to within a few yards of my blind before suspicion prevailed as they walked back the way they came, putting loudly as they left.

            For years, I have fed birds in my yard and I really enjoy the relaxation and enjoyment I get from identifying those visiting the feeders. One night several years ago, I stepped to the porch and saw movement under one of my feeders. It was a young raccoon getting his fill of the free buffet.

            I began walking slowly toward him, talking softly as I went and I was able to approach to within a couple of yards of the ‘coon before it slowly turned and left. For weeks, I’d see the ‘coon and we had this little “meet and greet” every night until he eventually left for good.

            Baby deer, rabbits, turkeys and ‘coons – it’s absolutely amazing the show nature’s little ones can provide if we slow down and let it happen.

“This young raccoon was more interested in eating bird seed than being afraid and scampering away.” Glynn Harris photo

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