It’s not what my brother and I expected to see during our afternoon on the lake. Nonetheless, it was still a sight for sore eyes.

We were slowly moving with the wind along a shoreline looking for bass and carp on the edges of the weeds. The summer need for irrigation water downstream has the reservoir levels several feet below full pool, so somewhere between the water and the traditional shoreline there is dry land. From a distance, we saw something grazing. Something big and orange. I asked my brother, “Hey, is that a small horse?” thinking it might have escaped from a nearby farm. My brother said he was wondering the same thing. As we drifted closer, the animal lifted its head, and sent us both scrambling for the camera.

A rather respectable mule deer buck in velvet wandered to the lake shore looking for either water or a mid-afternoon snack. We let our boat drift closer and closer, admiring him and snapping photos, but after crossing the 40-yard buffer, his instinct took over and he started moving back into the trees.

He wasn’t huge, but he wasn’t small either, so seeing him got me excited. Get ready, the season is coming, everybody. The season is coming. —Ben