After lunch today I rode out into the brush to watch ranch staff net does. Today and tomorrow the female deer are being gathered as part of the ranch’s conservation program.
In order to maintain the deer population, ranch staff gather a specific number of does every season. The does will go to other ranches (some nearby; others as far as East Texas) to improve and increase those deer populations. Through an incredible ballet of one person launching a net from a helicopter and another on the ground hog-tying the caught deer, the does are herded into a horse trailer. By the time I arrived there were two dozen of them hanging out in the hay.
Ever since I moved to the ranch a month ago I’ve wanted to see the deer up close. On my long walks through the brush I’ll see a few of them leaping ahead of me. Once I stood perfectly still for 20 minutes and stared at a doe 15 yards away. She kept lifting and bowing her head towards me. When I adjusted my sunglasses, the slight movement spooked her and she ran off.
I was surprised at how subdued the whole process was today. Branding calves is a noisy, smelly, and chaotic business. But it can also be majestic and hypnotic if you’re watching the right cowboy. Netting deer is different: it’s Darwinian and relies more on 21st-century toys. Finally seeing the deer up close today I realized they’re quiet, elegant animals. It’s the rest of us who are noisy, especially when your running shoes crackle on the trail as loudly as mine do.