It was 56° yesterday – too darned warm for early December. Went to the Preserve, a property consisting of about 4,000 acres containing a lake of more than 150 acres. Of the acreage, over three-quarters is open to public hunting – the remainder, mainly around the lake, is open to the public but closed to hunting. This being the first week of firearms deer season in Pennsylvania, taking a camera for a walk around the lake seemed a good way to spend the day.
A bald eagle was in a tree across the lake, but by the time I got close enough to the tree for a photo the eagle had moved on, not to be seen again. For part of the way around the lake a trail hugs the shore, affording views up and down the shore as well as across the lake.
And there, walking along the shore were two white-tail bucks. The deer seemed to know they were safe, even though there were old tracks of other humans on the lakeside trail. These two bucks could live their entire lives within the area closed to hunting and only be subject to predation by automobiles on the nearby road and an occasional coyote.
Couldn’t help thinking about the frustrated deer hunters elsewhere on the property and how tempting it would be to sneak into the area closed to hunting for a chance to bag one of these bucks. But then, that’s what sportsmanship is about. As Aldo Leopold said, “ethical behavior is doing the right thing when no one else is watching.”