Tuesday, October 28, 2014

The Game Camera Reveals The Wilderness Life Cycle

Dale Matson

Some of the most interesting time at our cabin that has no phone or television is furnished by reviewing photographs taken by our game cameras of the animals that move around our property day and night. The game cameras also have revealed the life cycles of our local deer population over the last four years. We had one photograph with five deer in the front yard area.

I often go up to the cabin to write and sometimes look out the window to see deer looking back in at me. There is a pastoral peacefulness in this wilderness setting that is actually teeming with wildlife. In a longitudinal sense, there is a drama unfolding that is more evident because of the game cameras.We had a doe that became familiar to us and seemed to have two fawns every spring. Over the past four years, there has been a general increase in the deer population grazing around and below our cabin.

Last fall, our game camera captured a mountain lion in the front yard of our cabin. This was actual evidence beyond the occasional footprints in the snow that I had seen in years past. We had mixed emotions since we often work on the property by ourselves and have grandchildren who visit us there also. At the same time however, we loved the fact that such a magnificent animal would pass by from time to time. We began to see less deer on the game camera. This was an ominous sign.

We saw the doe in early June and she still looked robust. Here is a photograph taken on June 7th.
Click On Photographs For A Larger View

The Young Buck Is One Of Her Offspring

In early September I noticed a drastic change in her appearance. She was with one of her yearlings and there was such a contrast between the two. The ribs on the mother were pronounced and her hindquarters looked withered. I could not tell if this was due to age or disease but she looked frail.

I suppose it was only a matter of time before nature took its course and she met her fate with the mountain lion. I checked the game camera memory card last Saturday and was amazed to see the doe being dragged into the woods by the neck by the mountain lion. Once again, I have mixed emotions because of the reality of the loss of this doe. The lion probably did her a favor in ending a life in obvious and inevitable decline.

September 28th

Yet this is a part of the ongoing cycles in nature. On the surface nature is beautiful and pastoral yet underneath and mostly out of sight, there is an unforgiving aspect where an animal weakened by age or disease is quickly and savagely dispatched in a few moments. The camera caught the mountain lion again the evening of the following day.

Sometimes the game cameras tell a story that we don't want to see.  


  1. Where the deer and your grandchildren play. Hmmmm!

  2. I find myself experiencing a lingering sadness at the death of the doe. I guess the connections were deeper than I had thought.