ONE PHOTO: A Horny Encounter

I’d like you to meet a new friend of mine. He’s a real beast.


Encountering a deer in the wild is considered a positive omen. It is “a sign that you can overcome difficult situations,” according to this “Wildlife Informer” page. Given that daily life in West Virginia features constant run-ins with deer — and, alas, too many run-overs, too — you’d think that the state would have overcome its oodles of difficulties after non-stop Close Encounters of the Deer Kind.

Do auspicious omens from a deer encounter extend to the semi-suburbs? I have zilch expertise in gauging their racks, but this 2-, 3- or 4-point young buck showed up recently in my backyard, which butts up against a narrow spit of woods. I got a closer look at him last night upon returning home from an outing. He loped into my headlights near my neighbor’s driveway, fifty yards from my own. I stopped the car, rolled my window down. He paused, goosestepping in slo-mo, his eyes like radar, sweeping the vicinity to ascertain his danger quotient.

It is November, which is Official Deer-Mowing-Down Month in the Mountain State


‘Deer Exposure.’ | TheStoryIsTheThing.com photo | Hazelwood, WV | october2022

I quickly snapped a photo with my smartphone since he was within 10 feet of me. A moment later, he bolted into the sanctuary of the dark woods. The low-light and some camera wiggle produced more a shot of a young buck’s essence than the close-up-and-personal portrait I was seeking. I went with what I got. I imported the snap of my new deer buddy into a favorite photo-tweaking program, then applied a pastel filter while tweaking the saturation and color.

I suppose I should christen him if he is going to be a regular visitor. There are a number of Native American deer spirits and gods, including the Hopi Sowi-ingwu, while the Cherokee claim Awi Usdi. There are different omens depending on whether you cross paths with a fawn, doe, or buck. (While it should be noted, after all, that it is their old world whose spaces we relatively new immigrants occupy, if not routinely despoil.)

Exactly because of their longevity in the wilderness, it is important to remember, says this overly enthusiastic deer-encounter site, that “the deer is linked with all things spiritual and intuitive. This is because they have an association with the forest where traditionally all things wild and unknown roam …”

So, meeting my guy with his incipient big-boy antler rack — which he will be able to shed some day and magically regrow — is a very good thing, omen-wise, according to the page linked at the start of this piece:


“Just like how deer shed their antlers and regrow them, seeing a deer can also symbolize a new beginning or positive chapter in your life.”


I am down with a new and positive chapter in my life. Especially if it comes with far fewer Trumpublicans (thank you, Midterms, but, please, with even fewer of them moving forward, plus rolling indictments). I presume, unfortunately, that the good karma of deer encounters does not extend to politics, even as many of us dream of triumphantly mounting a certain orange beast’s rack on a prominent wall in the Great Halls of American Justice.

Got him, at long, frigging last!


‘HORNING IN’: Click to View Video

I believe this is ‘Staggie,’ making his debut in the backyard some weeks ago.

Yet I welcome all the positive omenology one can get as we traipse through what the 4th century Latin Vulgate Bible dubs this vallis lacrimarum or ‘vale of tears.’ I am sure you know the feeling — when this earthly existence feels just all too beastly. With apologies to cool beasts like my neighborhood’s young buck comrade …

who needs a name

I thought I might just call him ‘Buck.’ As in ‘Buck the Young Buck.’ But that’s too easy, even if it does have an early American Empire “Last of the Mohicans” vibe. Or I could name him after my older brother, a naturalist, former arboretum & research forest commander, and lifelong Wise Man of the Woods. He has pontificated on more than a few deer in his life, not to mention red-tailed hawks, North American beavers, piliated woodpeckers, prairie chickens, and Yellow-bellied Sapsuckers.

So, then …

David the Deer‘?

That has some nice alliteration. Yet given the killer way in which Hopi and Cherokee tribes christened their iconic encounters with what native peoples, mystics, and loons sometimes call The Deer People, I think I need to go big and colorful. So, then, here is my request to any deer hunters who take a wrong turn into my backyard and come face to snout with my guest young buck.

Leave Stagosaurus out of your sights!

He is a friend of mine.

Thank you for coming to my TED talk.


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