We had just purchased our dream property in the Texas Hill Country near
, and like most new landowners, we went there every weekend to enjoy nature and the beautiful wildlife. It is a pristine piece of acreage bordered by two flowing creeks that have proven to be a haven for deer and other wildlife even in the dry season. Fredericksburg
“Look, doubles!” In my husband’s excitement he could not think of the word “twins,” as we watched two beautifully fragile fawns and their mother dash for cover, so he said the next best thing. I think in the beginning Doubledeer was more of a way to tease Bob about his loss of words rather than to actually give our ranch a name.
While we watched the threesome run, we noticed the doe had a pronounced limp. In fact, she painfully hit the ground on her left front knee each time she took a step. It appeared that her leg from the knee down was useless, and it swung limply whenever she stopped.
As with most deer populations in a heavily hunted region, they suffer at the careless hands of hunters who wound, rather than make a clean kill. This doe had apparently survived her injuries, healed and had continued with her life.
This was not to be the last we saw of this brave lady we named “Little Crippley.” She considered our place her home, or maybe we considered her home our place. No matter when we visited, we would catch a glimpse of her as she ran for cover. We soon looked forward to seeing her each time we came and remarked on how exceptionable her survival must be.
It wasn’t long before the sound of our Jeep proved not at all disturbing to Little Crippley. She would look up, listen, take a long gaze and continue to crop the tender vegetation as she kept us in her sights. What a brave lady!
As the years passed, we noticed that each spring, Little Crippley presented us with a new set of twins, each thriving and surviving in the wild. Many of her young remained with her throughout the years, having their own babies and enjoying the peace and safety our land provided.
Eventually, we built our home on the land and had the pleasure of being near our deer family every day. Bob would sow feed pellets and corn each evening as a way to relax and watch his beloved deer. They all knew when Bob would leave the house and walk to their “dining table” with the dinner bucket. All came running, especially Little Crippley. She would come within a few steps of Bob, her big brown eyes cautious, yet trusting as few wild things trust. Each time Bob moved around her, she pivoted on her good front leg just to let him know that she was keeping an eye on him. Little Crippley was always particular about who could come near. She did not like it if any strangers were about.
Those who would come to watch at a distance could not believe how such a challenged animal could continue to thrive and trust one of “those” that did this terrible thing to her.
This past year (2009) Little Crippley had really begun to show her age. She was still such a good mother to her fawns, but her neck seemed to bow and her ribs had started to show. Time catches up with all of us. Later that summer, we missed seeing her. We thought or hoped that she had just moved on.
One fall afternoon as we were walking to the point where our two creeks meet, we noticed the body of a partially decomposed deer. What a great place to spend your final moments we thought, here in this cool, tranquil setting that we all enjoyed so much. As Bob knelt and examined the bones of the deer a little closer, he noticed that the left front leg had been damaged and hung limply from the knee.