Sam Cook column: Duluth, where the wild things are
I stepped onto the front porch the other day to see a yearling whitetail bedded down at the base of a maple tree. The tree is 10 steps from my front door.
No big deal. This is Duluth. Deer are all over.
Next time I looked out, I saw a doe and two yearlings a couple of doors over in my neighbor’s yard. The doe and one of the yearlings were lying on the grass. The other yearling was browsing on some vegetation next to the house.
About that time, the man who lives in that house came out with his small dog on a leash. He saw the deer. He did not react. The deer didn’t move. If thought bubbles could have formed above the deer, they’d have said: “Yeah? We see you walking the fluffy little white thing. We’ll be right here. Enjoy your walk, dude.”
Two other neighbors came by, out on a morning walk. They saw the deer, too. No big deal. They have their own.
“Have you seen the fawns?” the man said. “They were playing tag in our back yard the other day.”
Nope, I said. I hadn’t seen the fawns. But my wife had seen them nursing beneath the doe a few days earlier.
“Have you seen the bear?” the man asked.
I told him my wife and I saw a smaller one on our walk a couple of weeks ago. Was it that one?
“No, this was a bigger one,” he said. “With two cubs.”
Oh, that bear. Nope, I hadn’t seen that one.
A night before, I stepped out on my back porch, and my next-door neighbor pointed into an adjoining yard.
“Gray fox,” he said.
Yep. Gray fox, moseying along, sniffing the base of another neighbor’s shed near the woods. Then the fox was gone.
The same evening, I had dinner with a friend who said she and her husband were eating supper the other night when he said, “Look behind you.”
She looked out the window and saw a whitetail doe chewing on her hostas. She imitated the deer chewing. She got up from her dinner table and ushered the deer out of the yard. That one had violated the hosta ordinance.
This is life in Duluth, where the wild things are. Animals live here. We live here. Mostly, we get along. We don’t call the police when we see bears. We don’t get worked up, but we don’t get too close. We don’t form crowds and gawk. We try to keep the deer herd in check.
Living among the wild things is one of the fringe benefits of residing in a place like Duluth — or Grand Rapids or Ely or Hibbing or Two Harbors. Even if you’re sick of the deer hammering your hostas, you have to admit it’s fun to see fawns frolicking or a buck in his summer red. To say nothing of a bear in the apple tree.
But don’t get me started about the squirrels that tried to move in with us last winter.
Sam Cook is a Duluth News Tribune columnist and outdoors writer. Reach him at (218) 723-5332 or firstname.lastname@example.org.