Chasing the dream with Caleb Brown: Dufus the deer

One of my favourite places on earth is the Slocan Valley which is just north of Nelson. My parents own a small piece of property south of Silverton which is one of the few small towns that sit on the edge of the massive body of water that is the Slocan Lake. We call the property Graceland because of its secludedness and beauty. It has one small road that meanders through the property and ends at a small opening that is surrounded by a mossy forest floor and hemlock dominated woods.

Last summer my brother Sam, his girlfriend Caitlyn and I went and spent some time at the property. While we were there we had interactions with many different animals. Owls hooted in the dark, squirrels threw pinecones at us from the trees above, and we were escorted off the property by a dog we named Rufus. But the most interesting interaction was with a slightly larger animal.

It was the first day, we finished setting up our camp then wandered around the forest to remind ourselves and to show Caitlyn how majestic the eight acres really were. After a while we made our way back to the opening where our camp was positioned and started a fire. Evening was falling upon us and shortly after the logs in the fire began to crackle we had a visitor.

Caitlyn saw him first and pointed out a deer walking down the road towards us. As he got closer we noticed one of his antlers was dangling in front of his face, which made him sort of spooky to look at. The other odd thing about him was he seemed to show now fear of us. We were more afraid of him! As he came uncomfortably close we made sure to keep the fire between us and the wild animal. After letting him do his thing for a few minutes I started waving my arms and I shooed him away. He turned around and walked back up the way he came. His head was down, and his body language was telling me he was sad and I immediately felt that maybe he needed our help. I started to call out to him, asking him to come back – which he did. He turned around and walked towards me, this time I wasn’t afraid and went into the woods towards him. I let him walk right up to me, he was so close I could smell him, then he stepped closer and began to smell my chest. I looked back at Sam and Caitlyn and slowly raised my hand and began petting the deer in complete awe. The others joined me in the woods and we stood there with this deer for about 10 minutes.

After a while we decided to go back to the fire, and what did the deer do? He came with us. Once on the road he even galloped a bit, shook his bum and showed his teeth almost like he was smiling. He appeared now to be very happy.

That evening he hung out with us around the fire and would wander off into the woods, but if we called out to him, he would return and did so three or four times. It was one of the wildest experiences of our lives. We named him Dufus, and I can tell you, none of us will ever forget meeting Dufus the deer.

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