A couple of years ago, I was poking around along the edge of a local stream. It was one of those walks I take with no real purpose in mind. I mentally noted the critter tracks in the stream-side mud and turned over the occasional rock to see what might be living underneath. The morning air held onto the humidity of summer, but there was just a hint of coolness… perhaps a tease leading up to the pleasant weather of fall. With no place in particular to be for the rest of the day, I stopped to sit on a log for a few minutes and take in my surroundings. Somewhat lost in the reflections and slowly drifting leaves, I was snapped back to consciousness by the clatter of deliberate footfalls on the nearby streambed cobble. Much to my delight, a young whitetail buck appeared on the far bank. His polished antlers were nearly white, sporting 7 distinct points. He was quite close when he finally noticed me sitting there and studied me intently… ready to bolt if I moved a muscle. I stayed still and avoided eye contact as he stared me down from no more than 50 feet. After a few minutes, he apparently surmised I wasn’t much of a threat and with a flick of his tail, continued upstream. As he passed through a shaft of sunlight, he paused briefly as if to watch one of the many crimson leaves slowly floating by. I was taken by the brilliant shine on his antler tines. He looked back at me to make sure I hadn’t moved, then disappeared up the wooded stream bank and out of sight.
While the buck in this painting is much larger than the 7-point I saw that morning, this painting was inspired by that early October encounter.