Runners frequently encounter road hazards of all types. Other than the obvious road hazards such as uneven pavement, weather conditions, crazy drivers (I have been hit by a car) we often have the opportunity to encounter wild life.
Many of us run in the early mornings during the summer months to escape the heat. This is also one of the best times to see wildlife if you run in a rural or suburban area. If you live in the city you also have a good chance to see wildlife of a different type but that story is for another day.
I transitioned from running in the afternoon to early mornings a few weeks ago. During this time I have seen rabbits, chipmunks, turtles, and countless birds. Basically everything you would typically see in a nice suburban neighborhood at 5 AM during the summer months. With almost zero vehicle traffic it is quite pleasant to get lost in your thoughts and enjoy nature and the warm summer air.
This morning I was running on the bike path and in the distance saw what looked like a person standing in the middle of the bike path about half a mile ahead. As I got closer it seemed strange that the “person” had not moved. Usually people on the bike path are walking or running. One thought that crossed my mind was that perhaps they were waiting for their dog to come out of the woods. Either way I kept running.
As I got closer suddenly the shape moved broadside and I saw that it was actually a large deer. This is not unusual in my area as about once a month I see deer on my runs. Just last week I saw a doe and two fawns near my house. At this point I was getting very close to the deer and it still had not moved. Finally I was only 30 yards away and I had to stop. The deer was standing broadside blocking the path and still had not moved. I was thinking this was very strange. I clapped my hands and yelled at the deer. No response. I yelled and clapped again and faked running forward. No response.
At this point my expectation was that the deer would take off into the woods. This did not happen. Instead the deer casually moved a few steps away from me and then quickly turned and charged right at me! After I got over my initial shock (.01 of a second) I ran as fast as I could in the opposite direction. I looked quickly over my shoulder and still saw the deer coming so I ran into the woods and came out behind a Dunkin Donuts. I looked back and the deer was gone. I have been chased by a lot of things on the road such as dogs, birds, turkeys, wild geese, etc. but never a deer. The deer was a doe (no antlers) but was very big and there was no way I was challenging a deer on a bike path.
I asked a veteran hunter about why this happened. I am told that the most logical cause was there was probably a fawn in the woods just off the path and the doe was protecting the fawn. The doe could not leave and run off due to the fawn and as I got closer and closer the doe went into protection mode.
Either way now I have to add yet another irrational fear to the long list of things that could happen on a run. The next time you see a beautiful deer in the woods watch out…you might be next!