My wife and I live in the middle of town, but we started seeing deer pop up around the neighborhood a few weeks ago, when the temperature was hitting the mid-90s each day, and we hadn’t had a drop of rain in about a month.
One night my wife was arriving home at dusk and spotted two adult deer standing in our front yard. They bolted as soon as she turned into the driveway, but it was an unusual sighting for us.
A few nights later, I was driving home from work after dark and was just about to turn on the street that leads into our neighborhood when I saw three deer walking — actually trotting — across the intersection in front of me. After they crossed, they just stood in the yard of the nearest house and stared at me, then took off into the darkness.
The next week, I was ready to pull into our drive when I noticed four deer — two adults and two little ones — standing in our front yard, pretty as you please.
I was a bit puzzled. Even though my wife and I live across from a large pasture, we seldom see deer roaming around on it. When we do, it’s usually back among the trees as it gets close to nightfall.
In eight years living there, we never saw any deer in our yard, though we’ve had our share of foxes and possums.
Now, the deer seemed to be showing up everywhere. My wife even saw a couple of them walking on a well-traveled street in our subdivision last week before they took off into a nearby grassy area.
I’m no expert on deer habits or wild animals in general, but the poor things were probably looking for water, and maybe for moist vegetation to nibble on. With no rain for weeks on end, they’ve been in a tough spot, no doubt.
I think I know why they’ve been coming by our house to visit. Our air-conditioning unit sometimes makes a small puddle when it’s been running frequently, as it has been during the recent hot spell.
The deer from the nearby pasture were probably out looking for water one night and discovered the puddle. If it was there again the next time they were out foraging, they may have made our house a regular stop on their nightly travels.
The puddle water may have been a bit muddy, but it probably tastes better than chlorinated water from someone’s pool.
What all this makes me realize is that even though we live in the middle of town, we’re still surrounded by wildlife — possums, skunks, foxes, hawks, squirrels and deer, to name a few — and their ancestors were living in our area long before people came along and started building streets and houses in their habitat. When we squeezed them out, they had fewer resources on which to survive.
I started thinking about this again last week, when the Harker Heights City Council held a public hearing on annexing about 370 acres of land south of town. The land is west of Stillhouse Lake Road and south of Chaparral Road, extending southward toward the lake.
If you’ve ever driven south on Stillhouse Lake Road (Farm-to-Market 3481) and looked off the right as you climb the big hill, you can’t help but be taken with the view — rolling, green hills and trees as far as the eye can see. But after the developers move in, that view will be cluttered with housetops. And the wildlife that calls the land home will be squeezed out, forced to live elsewhere.
Like our subdivision’s four-legged visitors, some deer likely will occasionally roam the new neighborhoods, looking for food and water.
Some may say the shrinking of wildlife habitats is just a byproduct of progress, but when I think of the animals affected by the inevitable upheaval, I find it very sad.