The Deer

and Other Critters in New Market, Alabama

Cathy B. Bridges

© Copyright 2020 by Cathy B. Bridges

Photo of white tail deer.

One bright and sunny autumn day, my street got a surprise visit from a big buck. I was at home cleaning when suddenly lots of dogs started barking outside. Looking out the front door, I saw a huge handsome buck in the middle of the road right in front of my house! He stood so majestically as if he was proud of the massive rack atop his head. To look at him, you would think he was standing guard for my neighborhood. As I watched from the window he stood there as still as a statue, not moving. The barking dogs finally spooked the deer and he ran across the road toward a pasture and wooded area.

Living in a neighborhood, I could hardly believe it, although mountains are all around our quaint little southern town. My family did not believe it either. Really! They thought I was joking or maybe losing my mind. That made me wish my camera had been handy and back then I did not have a cell phone. Oh well. I know what I saw and it was an awesome sight.

Living in a small rural town in the northeastern part of Alabama on the Cumberland Plateau allows us to see wildlife aplenty, but not so much since more and more homes are nearby. We see lots of deer, and if not careful, it is easy to hit one as they run out on the road so fast, it is impossible not to sometimes. We may see a few or a herd of deer grazing at the foot of the mountain or in a pasture near a wooded area, and especially at certain times of the year.

Several of our friends have been in accidents on their motorcycles when a deer would run out so suddenly. Some even resulted in broken bones, scrapes, bruises, and a totaled bike. Recently a friend hit a big buck and did some damage to his car. He was ok, but the deer died on the side of the road. The accident happened in front of Buckhorn High School. How ironic is that?

One day in August a few years back, we were in a friend's truck going out to eat on my birthday. After turning onto a side road, a small deer seemed to appear out of nowhere, and it collided with the front of the truck. It was so fast! Like a streak of lightning. The deer ran off, possibly severely injured, but we did not know. It did some damage to the truck also, but none to any of us. We were just surprised and slightly shook up. You never know when one may appear out of the blue, so it is best to be on the lookout.

Since then, we have seen lots more deer and a few coyotes, but not in our neighborhood, although there was a screaming peacock living two roads behind us one time. Boy! We were so glad when we did not have to hear that obnoxious noise anymore! I didn’t know peacocks could be so loud.

There has also been a lot of rattlesnakes and copperheads, plus cottonmouth snakes in the area. Years ago, our German shepherd broke a tooth going after a baby copperhead on the concrete floor of my husband's shop. Through the years, our dogs have dragged up possums, rabbits, and ground squirrels. They would always drop them where we were sure to see them. Groceries. Right?

One night recently, the dog was barking at something and getting the flashlight, I went out to see what it was. The flashlight landed on an armadillo under my car and looking right at me! They are some strange looking animals! We have seen a lot of those lately. Mostly roadkill. Yuck! I did not want the dog messing with the despicable thing, so thank goodness it went on to visit someone else and I did not have to get near it.

Ever since I was a little girl, I can remember dead skunks in the road, and almost always in the same area at certain times of the year. You can smell it a mile away! Sometimes there are so many; as soon as the scent of one skunk fades, it starts all over with the next one. Whew! New houses are now being built in that very area. The folks that have never lived near mountains or in a rural community will most likely be initiated by the smell of southern skunk delight.

As a girl, I always heard talk of bobcats in a specific area at the foot of the mountains at Mountain Fork. That area was first settled in the 1800s, so people have lived there for years. The site is now where folks go four-wheel riding or jeep riding for a relaxing experience in nature. Better watch out for rattlesnakes and other critters though!

My husband and I love to go for rides when it's not deer or turkey hunting season. One day possibly a little too close to hunting season, we were on our huge four-wheeler going up the mountain when a big deer ran across right in front of us. That was too close—scary close. We could have been in a terrible, possibly fatal crash with a huge animal. Deer! They are all over the place. Do you believe me yet?

We have about four large maple trees around our home, and squirrels love them. The squirrels are puny, not big and fat like some. They make a nest up high, and we can hear them run across our roof, going from one tree to the next. The little pests will dig around in my flower pots sometime. They almost ruined a rosebush I had. Putting plastic forks with the tines up around the rosebush worked great. They did not bother it again. Putting cayenne pepper around the edge of the pot helps also.

The deer. That beautiful deer. The main character in this story. What an experience seeing a big buck in my neighborhood like that. That handsome animal was so magnificent and grand in the middle of the road in front of my house. Unbelievable! That was years ago, and sometimes I still wish I'd had my camera because that will probably never happen again!

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