Possumhaw: Where did they all come from?



Shannon Bardwell



She told them simply and directly that the meadow was a place of peace and beauty, where indeed if one came to it in a quiet manner, the animals would not be disturbed; for there are lovely birds, and squirrels and field mice, and sometimes deer.  


-- Kathryn Lasky-American children's writer 




A host of Canada geese have remained with us for an unusually long time. Often the birds migrate in, settle for a while, and when the air turns cold, they head further south. But this year, they have stayed. On the good side they serve as a warning for the flightless Pekin ducks of any untoward critters. On the bad side I asked Sam about putting out deer feeders and he suggested it was very possible we'd simply be feeding an enormous number of geese. 


One morning while we walked to the lake I noticed, "The geese are gone!" Yea, perhaps now we could put out the deer feeders. Every night and a few times during the day we see deer. I'm amazed such a beautiful, large creature can survive on its own. I suppose it's the largest animal we have here that can do so. Sam and I continued past the lake and into the woods. The leaves still shone golden in the sunlight. About then a deer came crashing through the woods, running right past us and on his way. 


"Where do you think the deer came from?" I asked Sam. "I mean are they descendants from the same deer that grazed the Prairie when the Indians were here?"  


Sam thought possibly some were but many migrated. "There's a large deer population now. It wasn't that way when I was a youngster. You could sit all day in the cold and never see a deer." 


Information in the magazine "Mississippi Outdoors" explained a little about Mississippi's deer management. The Game and Fish Commission created in 1932 created refuges for the deer. "As herds grew inside the refuges, deer were trapped there and released in other counties where deer had been absent for decades. Most counties began their "new" herds with fewer than 20 deer. These first releases occurred in the 1930's and continued to the 1970's." 


The article continued, "As food resources were high and predators almost nonexistent, deer herds grew exponentially. Soon after more counties were conducting short, buck-only deer hunting seasons. They typically lasted less than a week and harvest was low ... with no female harvest."  


There's a long history with changes and regulations as the now, Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks manage the deer populations. So maybe that deer crashing through the woods is not entirely taking care of itself. Agencies are out there making sure the deer are healthy and survive in manageable numbers. 


The next day the geese were back. So, the deer feeders were not going up and I was a bit disappointed. We bought deer corn anyway and went along the dam away from the geese hand-sprinkling a little corn so a deer or two might come and linger. 


In the evening I walked out to the lake and watched the geese quietly glide into the water. The sun hung low on the horizon causing the geese to be silhouetted against the sky. Maybe all things are beautiful in their own way; in their own time.  



Shannon Rule Bardwell is a Southern writer living quietly in the Prairie.


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