Last week, I was with family and friends by Sandy Lake, near Buckhorn, Ontario. During our sojourn, our main mode of transport was the canoe, and one evening, with Young Pine Marten in bed, Mrs PM and I went for an exploratory paddle. As we were heading back across the lake, I saw what looked like a large bird some distance away, perhaps a cormorant or loon sunning its' wings I thought, although I've not seen them do that resting on water before. But this was Canada, their birds may be different. As we approached, I thought it just didn't look like a cormorant, and then it struck me. "My God", I said, "it's a deer swimming". So we headed towards it to see if we could take a picture. Then the full horror struck me: it became clear that this was quite a young fawn, completely disorientated and swimming around blindly. Only it was clear to me that I couldn't bring it on board. Even if I managed to, it would kick around and capsize the canoe. Even if it didn't, what would I do with it? There was no telling where it had come from and where its' mother was.
Then it started bleating at us as we were clearly the only thing it could see, and we paddled away with lumps in our throats. I kept reasuring Mrs PM that it would find its' way to the bank, but as I looked back once in a while, it seemed to just be weaving around. I told my friend when we returned, and he immediately set off in a larger more stable boat to see what he could do. I told him that if he must attempt this, his best bet was to get it to follow him to the edge. But he came back with an ashen-looking face, as all that happened was that he came alongside it in time to see it run out of steam and go under.
I had quite a lot of trouble going to sleep that evening, even though I knew that there was no chance of that lost fawn surviving. It wasn't the water, it was the fact that it was alone. But it's still not easy to accept. I must be a pretty soppy deerstalker.
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