Running with deer scampering around me is more fun than most things that I do. If I get lucky, I come to the right areas quietly enough that I don’t spook them, but they see me first, and from far enough away to observe me and wonder what the heck I’m doing running from nothing, or so they think, bounding around in the woods with merely a passing interest in them. Occasionally, the deer aren’t afraid, but are caught close enough that they decide to stay where they are and show me a few of their own jumps, flitting their tails, and bobbing their heads around as if to figure out how my legs work–rather, why my legs don’t work as well as theirs.
The best way to get them to ‘participate’ is by bounding between every few steps, especially if the deer are in clearings or grassy areas. The most memorable time this happened was last winter when the sun was just below the horizon. There must have been a dozen or more deer, prancing and springing about, even jumping over one another! One of them thundered past me twice, in a blur, then long jumped into the stream and disappeared on the other side.
I wish I could capture moments like those on camera, but even then it would only help remind me of the incident, but would not capture the vibrations of thundering hooves or the smell of deer in plumes of scent where they recently spent moments of time. There are times when I am running that I pass through such plumes where a deer stood before I encroached, strongest if it’s a buck, very strong in November, when I am sure I could track the deer on calm afternoons by scent alone for a short distance, not that I’m inclined to do so. The taste of that smell while running in cold weather with no breeze is noticeable first. No photograph or video could recreate the experience of running or hiking in the woods when features of the natural world are so incredibly salient, so life-affirming, so indescribable.