Last week at our farm, Stone Hill Farm in Vermont, we discovered that the apple blossoms in our old orchard are unusually prolific. The orchard will likely be saturated with apples in the fall and, subsequently, will be teaming with deer.
If you walk in an orchard with a born Vermonter, s/he will comment, above all, on deer signs: tracks, a rubbed branch, a warn patch of grass, a bit of scat.
When you see a deer in Vermont it will be a white-tailed deer. There are about 30 million white-tailed deer in this country. They are, in fact, everywhere in the United States, excluding only Hawaii and Alaska; and in every Canadian province except the Yukon, the Northwest Territories, and Nunavut (where hardly anyone ever goes). In those parts of California, Nevada, Utah and a few other states with fewer white-tailed deer, you will find the less gracefully named mule deer. 6 million are taken each year by hunters and uncounted more, mostly youngsters, by coyotes, bobcats, bears and fishers. So it is extremely dangerous to be a deer.
The orchard is the hunter’s seasonal paradise, as it is for the deer. But at our place, only the deer can find food there, as we have deemed our farm a "no-kill" zone, politely posted against the army of local warriors. This is at times difficult for me, as several of my close friends take deep satisfaction in “harvesting” deer – as if they planted them, and they resent our citified reluctance to allow murder in the orchard. The deer meanwhile feast on the resplendent apples in peace and safety, wise to remain there until December.
The only place where we encourage "hunting" of these and other marvelous creatures, is, of course, on your smartphones. Our friends the white-tailed deer will be among the cast of characters you can learn about in our forthcoming Fieldstone Guide to Mammals app, which entered its final pre-launch development phase just last night. Add your name below and we will let you know when it's available.
Yours from the field,