RANDVILLE — It was cold opening morning in Dickinson County, perhaps not as cold as I’d have liked, but there was a thick layer of frost covering the stalks in the cut oat field I was watching.
As the sun climbed and the frost melted, each standing half-oat stalk turned into a prism, producing an explosion of color. Magic.
A short time later, a doe wandered into the oat field, which was over sown with clover, trailed by about 30 yards by a small buck. The buck, in clearly his first year with antlers, was a barely forked-horn dude; while the doe fed intermittently, presumably on clover, the buck just sort of stared at the doe. If she wandered a few steps away from the buck, he’d take a few steps also. He struck me if he were a high school freshman at his first dance, stunned by a cutie across the way, but absolutely in the dark about how to approach her.
I had no interest in shooting either deer; I’d sworn off 1 ½-year-old bucks years ago and though I had a doe permit for the management unit, I’d planned to size up the populations before I took une femme and, so far at least, I hadn’t seen any evidence that we have enough deer here to begin thinning the brood stock. I watched for a half hour as the drama played out in front of me. Once, when the buck took a few tentative steps toward the gal, she did likewise, maintaining the distance between them. Playing hard to get, eh? I kept hoping a senior buck would show up, stride right up to her and . . . well, it didn’t happen. After a while, she got a little spooky and ran off, her would-be suitor following at the prescribed distance.