Wallowa Lake State Park

Posted by Ellen

His nose isn't red, and he's not really a reindeer--I understand that. But that's not the problem. I have met this deer, this near-reindeer, and he is no Rudolph; in fact, he's probably one of those "other reindeer" who mocked poor Rudolph, who used to laugh and call him names.

This deer bully--an ordinary mule deer--spent the summer of 1997 in the campground of northeastern Oregon's Wallowa Lake State Park, stealing food from off the picnic tables. He didn't wait for people to leave a table unattended; he just bullied his way in to where a family was setting up for dinner, shoved the family aside, and stole their dinner.

He got a loaf of bread from us before I grabbed a pint of ketchup and chased him away, yelling and swinging my ketchup, hoping that the bottle looked like a weapon to a deer. I'm sure I looked like an idiot to the campers, and I knew even then that it's not smart to act so aggressively around unusually aggressive wildlife. But I remember the thrill of playing the hero, running him off into the woods, protecting my family from the beast.

Something else I knew even then: this animal's bad behavior had been caused by humans and would certainly shorten its life span.

I don't know the details of what happened next. In fact, for all I know, this picture might record an unfortunate deer's very last supper.