If you’ve been following me since the days of my old wordpress.com blog (I commend you on your obscene level of dedication), you may recall the story of me feeding a wild pet deer by hand at my friend Donn’s house in West Virginia.
This was one of the coolest moments of my cross-country van trip a few summers ago. I was shocked when I drove up to their place and saw his dad literally petting a deer in the yard. What kind of weird world had I entered?
The back story was that a while earlier, Donn’s family noticed that a mother deer had been killed on a nearby highway, leaving her baby to fend for itself. On top of that, they discovered the baby was nearly blind. This story did not look like it was going to have a happy ending.
So they intervened. They began feeding the deer, whom they dubbed Beeper, and it began hanging around in their yard. They had to move really slowly to avoid startling Beeper, because with her limited vision she could apparently still make out shapes moving, and she would get spooked and run off if she saw something moving too fast.
During the winter, they set up a little house for Beeper under their back porch, with food and insulation to keep her warm. Beeper got to know the family and eventually would let them pet her and feed her by hand. I got the same opportunity when I visited, and it was very cool. Beeper the pet deer loved grapes!
I contacted Donn recently to get an update on the story. It turns out that while Beeper had some physical limitations, she also had womanly needs, and she ended up getting pregnant and giving birth to twins who were totally healthy. Another set of twins followed a year later.
Finally, earlier this year, after four years of rarely venturing far beyond the yard, Beeper disappeared and has not been heard from since. Her youngest fawns hung around until they were fully grown before taking off as well.
Perhaps Beeper’s time has passed, but at least her circle of life was able to continue. Four more mini-Beepers are out there in the West Virginia forest thanks to a family armed with grapes and a winter porch.
This was the first time I’ve heard of someone keeping deer as pets, and it had a mostly happy ending.
Have you ever gotten to pet a deer?