Let us be clear: I dislike mule deer. On California’s Central Coast, I am not alone in this. Mule deer (their ears look like mule ears) throw their bodies in front of your car. Mule deer knock people off bicycles. Mule deer will charge you if they’re in rut, or if you try to get close to a Bambi when her mother is nearby. Mother is always nearby.
Mule deer pillage gardeners’ prized roses, and just about every other garden plant. The nurseries sell “deer resistant” plants that deer might avoid. But a truly hungry deer will eat about anything.
So while the Central Coast Chapter of the Mule Deer Society made a fine t-shirt, I was unimpressed. The society’s charter includes population control, but here’s the word: they fall short.
Mule deer are everywhere in my county: in the hills, in rural neighborhoods, crowding the edges of town, and especially on the university campus where they lurk at the roadside among the trees and burst across the pavement at random intervals. I’ve left a lot of tire rubber on the pavement.
My favorite mule deer story: I was driving away from the university in thick fog when a deer loomed out of the murk perhaps 100 yards ahead. He was a magnificent buck, large and stately with a full rack of antlers. He leapt a five foot fence at the side of the road with thoughtless ease. Then he stood there on the shoulder, appraising my approaching car.
“Don’t you, I say DON”T YOU EVEN MOVE,” I shouted at him through the windshield. And I drove past him without incident, except for a blood pressure spike.
I looked into my rearview mirror in time to watch him jump over the hood of the car behind me. It was the single most beautiful athletic feat that I have ever witnessed: a poem of grace and power and elegance. And I’m sure it turned the driver’s hair gray.
They’re aliens. I’m sure of it.