A cold gray day. Juncos forage on the road and in the yard where a deer has dug. The dull knocks of a pileated woodpecker trepanning an oak.
Cloudy and cold. The quiet tapping of a downy woodpecker. A deer hunter appears, his bloody quarry sliding behind him on the fallen leaves.
Brighter color between the trees: sunrise. Gray as their trunks: a doe and her grown fawns. From down hollow, a screech owl’s trill.
Deer follow their long-legged shadows through the trees. Three phoebes chase through the branches and three chipmunks through the leaf duff.
The morning after the end of deer season and an inch and a half of new snow covers the evidence—the gut piles, the trails of blood and hair.
Sunrise. A deer grazes at the woods’ edge. A phoebe perches beside her and makes repeated sorties over her back, snapping up the deerflies.
Strong sun, deep shadow. Off in the woods, two deer-shaped silhouettes glide through a sunlit glade. A mourning dove coos a single note.
The delicate sneezes of a deer grazing on the thorny canes of multiflora rose bushes. She stretches a hind leg up to rub her nose.
The warmest morning in weeks. The bracken in my yard that the deer mowed down has raised defiant fists. A red-eyed vireo drones on and on.
This isn’t how Hollywood would’ve scripted the deer season opener: flat light with no hint of shadow. Shots don’t ring out—they merely thud.