Sustainability

Deer to Me

By Ryan McGreal
Published June 19, 2007

I had a day off yesterday (vive St-Jean-Baptiste!), and my younger son wanted to go for a bike ride to the 'Snail Tunnel', which runs under Hwy 403 just before Wilson St.

We left the house and rode up the Radial Trail, which crosses the south end of Chedoke Golf Course and meanders up the escarpment to Ancaster and, ultimately, toward Brantford.

About fifteen minutes into the trip, we were cruising (okay, I exaggerate: it's almost all uphill and I'm out of shape, so it's more accurate to say we were tottering) along an unpaved trail lined with buttercups and wild daisies, when my son yelled, "A deer!"

I hit the brakes and we ground to a dusty stop. Sure enough, a young deer stood maybe fifteen feet away from us in a small clearing among the trees. It regarded us solemnly, ears perked, and sniffed the air with gentle bobs of its shiny snout.

We stood still on our seats, scarcely daring to breathe, and it meandered toward us, sniffing a tuft of grass here, nibbling on a leaf there, until it stood about ten feet away and munched on what looked like a tasty briar.

Soon a second deer walked into the clearing, munching coyly. An unspoken dialogue seemed to pass among the two deer, and after casting a final look at us to ensure we weren't doing anything dodgy, they strolled back into the brush.

The whole exchange lasted for maybe a minute and a half, plenty of time to take all kinds of photographs.

(Did I bring my camera? I did not, so for those in the "pics or it didn't happen" camp, I have nothing to offer but my solemn vow that it really did happen.)

This is why I love Hamilton so much. We live close enough to the core to ride a bike to work, walk to most local destinations, and enjoy a fun urban environment; but we also live close enough to the woods that we can see wild deer a fifteen minute ride from our house.

Ryan McGreal, the editor of Raise the Hammer, lives in Hamilton with his family and works as a programmer, writer and consultant. Ryan volunteers with Hamilton Light Rail, a citizen group dedicated to bringing light rail transit to Hamilton. Ryan writes a city affairs column in Hamilton Magazine, and several of his articles have been published in the Hamilton Spectator. He also maintains a personal website and has been known to post passing thoughts on Twitter @RyanMcGreal. Recently, he took the plunge and finally joined Facebook.

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By peter (anonymous) | Posted June 19, 2007 at 14:09:52

it's the only reason i've hung around this long. it's a beautiful thing.

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By seancb (registered) - website | Posted June 19, 2007 at 15:27:50

As an avid mountain biker, I can vouch that you ain't lyin'. We see deer on just about every ride, especially in the evening -- and you can see them by the handful if it's close to dusk. It's all part of why I brag so heartily about this city to anyone who will listen (and many who won't)!

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By Ryan (registered) - website | Posted June 19, 2007 at 16:27:22

It's true - I used to ride that trail daily and saw deer at least once or twice a week. My first-ever editorial on RTH mentioned a deer sighting:

http://www.raisethehammer.org/article/00...

I've also seen plenty of deer during hikes and bike rides along the south shore RBG trails (accessible from Princess Point and Churchill Park), though in my anecdotal experience they seem to be more skittish around people.

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