The clear signs of a dead deer on the Oxnead road created a frisson of concern. Firstly the collision with a deer is not just a little accident in the car – Deer such as Muntjac weigh in at 30 lbs. or so, a Roebuck perhaps twice that; certainly enough to do considerable damage to both vehicle and beast. Once I had put these thoughts out of my head, I started to wonder. Was it one of the Roe fawns whose progress I had been following or was it perhaps a wandering Muntjac?
The only way to find out with any degree of certainty would be to do a head count. So on Friday morning at first light the dogs and I walked up to the Belt. The air was sharp with the first of this autumn’s frosts. It was relatively dark, the full moon was providing what help it could but still the gloom prevailed. I spotted a lone doe from the Buxton Road Bridge. This in itself was unusual. This doe was flighty. It seemed to be resting a back leg and I could have sworn that the off-side hind leg had a dark stain at the joint. It made its way quietly along the hedge line towards the wood, grazing at brief pauses as it went. My imagination started to run – perhaps this was the survivor of a road accident sustained by the group.
Something made me to walk on a little further. After about fifty yards I spotted another deer, this time to the south of the railway line. The wind was against me so I kept moving closer. As I got closer, I was relieved to spot a couple more deer in a close group. This was, without doubt, the Roe doe and the two fawns. Their coats were already a rich dark brown – the orange coats of summer already replaced and ready for the winter. Seemingly unconcerned they continued grazing, with only the movement of their large ears betraying the fact that they knew I was there. I turned and left them to it.