Mule. Deer. Doe. Say that three times fast.
Sure, it’s not the greatest image I’ve made of a mule deer (Odocoileus hemionus), but there is something about her little self that I love. She reminds me to this day – over five years later, of a little toy deer. It was in mid-autumn 2010 and the light was fading fast from Jasper National Park. Any decent light was already gone, so I was heading back to my riverside cabin at Becker’s Chalets, making my way along Maligne Lake Road and there she was. I believe I only have the one photo of her. Even though she was somewhat camouflaged in her surroundings, she was on alert as tour buses were doing their own thing whenever she or her little homies were spotted (read: stopping without a moments notice along the road, brakes squealing and pretty much scaring off all animals, bah!), which kept interrupting her supper time. Sad.
I was frustrated because the bus had no regards to myself standing in the field or anyone else in the area, including other drivers behind them. This is a practice I wish was long gone, but sadly this isn’t the case and as traffic increases in our national parks, so do the jack-o’lanterns behind the wheel. But I was way more frustrated for her. Imagine to be constantly interrupted and on alert whilst trying to feed? When I look back at these moments, it reminds me even wildlife enthusiasts such as myself can do a better job of lessening the impact we have on these wonderful little souls.
Since I’ve been getting back in the swing of things, I’m counting down the days until my camera and I head back to Jasper National Park to spend some time around wildlife.
If you’d like some resources on mule deer in Alberta, check out Alberta Environment and Parks (formerly ESRD) and their mule deer species page! You can also find more info from the National Parks Service in the US on mule deer as located in their various national parks.
As I also think of what I can do better moving forward with regards to wildlife and conservation efforts – especially with photography, and how I can continue to encourage others to think about the impact we have on our wild world, I’m also smiling as I write this because she was just that cute, this little toy mule deer.
See you in the field!