Monday, November 14, 2005

Darwin and the Bucks County bucks

The woods around my house were alive with the thunder of hooves this weekend because deer rutting season is at its peak. On Saturday, I saw a very impressive, muscular three-point stag wandering out by the garage and could not figure out why he wasn't at all phased by my presence. (The deer in Bucks County are so numerous--in fact, Pennsylvania has the largest deer population in the entire United States--that contact with humans is unavoidable and, as a result, they've become entirely nonchalant if not actually brazen about the whole thing.) As I peered into the wood running alongside our property and the neighboring property, I saw at once the reason for his indifference. A delicate doe was laying on all fours in the brush. Obviously tired of his advances and, perhaps holding out for a shag with a four-point or more as she went about her business throughout the course of the day, she'd decided to wait him out--fickleness and rapid boredom being more associated with the male of any species, I think--by laying down. And her strategem worked. He strutted about flashing his bobtail and pissing near various trees for about an additional fifteen minutes and then left to pursue other coital opportunities.

Sunday wasn't quite so lucky for another doe. As I was carrying Spice out to do his business (he can no longer walk by himself), there was an enormous crashing through the woods and I looked about to see four bucks (one with five-points) chasing after a doe. They were relentless. They chased her back and forth around the entire back portion of the abutting woods before they finally ran off and all I could hear was the frantic rustle of dead leaves being stirred.

As I'd watched, I thought of Darwin and evolution and how it was probably the five-point buck, clearly the strongest, who exhausted the others and got her at the end. (Darwin's been on my mind ever since the Dover, Pennsylvania voters saw the light and decided to throw out the entire school board, undoubtedly Christian Right, at the elections last week because the board tried to advance the lie that the theory of evolution isn't settled yet in science and thus intelligent design had to be taught too. In Bucks, we don't have that sort of argument or question in our local elections because we accept science's proof and pronouncements on the matter and because we're--well, quite frankly, we're a sophisticated county, but it's very, very encouraging to see that our peers in more rural areas of the Commonwealth are making strides).

It did also cross my mind if Darwin's theory was perhaps a little sexist viz-a-viz mating situations, because we always seem to think of the term 'fittest' in these situations as applying principally to the male of a species. Normally, we assume the most virile wins the prize. But what about the females, in this case, the doe? Clearly, she would have to be as strong as the fittest male in order to run the lesser males to exhaustion. Or maybe I'm over analyzing and they all took turns on the poor thing!!

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Spencer said...

I'm working on your book so I will have a review soon.

Have a good weekend!

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