City Creek Nature Notes – Salt Lake City

October 23, 2016

October 23rd

Filed under: Mule Deer, People — canopus56 @ 8:16 pm

Really Smart Deer

7:00 p.m. Yesterday was the first day of the deer rifle hunt. On the road below mile 2.0, there were about thirty late evening walkers and runners, and at the end of the a hunting day, about fifteen hunter trucks and SUVs drove. To segregate these groups, rifle hunting is only allowed above mile 4.1, and bicycles are banned altogether. Bow hunting is permitted in the lower canyon outside of an eighth mile buffer zone on either side of the road. Today, a Sunday, there again thirty late evening walkers and runners but only two hunting vehicles. To re-enforce this division of uses, the City has posted maps and signs about every mile along the road that show where the hunting and no hunting zones are.

As I jog through the twilight in the lower canyon near picnic site XX, I a hear the fainest rustling of leaves. After stopping and staring for some moments, I see six mule deer just on the other side of the stream perhaps fifty feet away. They have picked their spot to drink from the stream well. The slope is steep behind them, so no one can sneak up or observe them from behind. The slope and stream-side are covered in a deep layer of light-brown leaves, and with their grey-brown coats, they are nearly invisible. I only notice this group because one of six made the mistake of jostling leaves with one foot while I jogged past.

Previously (Oct. 20th), I noted that deer seem to have day planners because they know to disappear on the day before the hunt starts. Apparently, they also can read and have taken notice of the no hunting areas on the City’s maps. They are hiding in the no hunting buffer on either side of the road. Or perhaps, they have come the stream-side at dusk like deer always do, and I am attributing too much into their behavior.

At mile 1.6, I again see the outline of a human on the ridge between City Creek and Avenues. He been there every night for the last few days. I pull out my monocular to get a better look, and he is using binoculars to scan the western slope of City Creek and the opposing ridgeline for deer. Through the monocular, I notice that he is now looking back directly at me. I simile, waive, put the monocular away, and start jogging back down the canyon.

We all are familiar with the line of sunset rising up a mountainside. Due to the relative size and distances of the Earth and Sun, the line of sunset involves the smallest of angles between the rays of the sun and the Earth’s horizon. The angle of the rising line of sunset and the horizon are measured in the smallest of units: arcseconds or 1/3600th of a degree. As I jog down canyon, there is high cloud layer framed by the southwestern high ridge lines. As the sun sets, its rays leave the tops of mountains and continues to climb higher into the atmosphere. Tonight, for a few seconds, they sneak beneath the cloud layer and directly illuminate the underside of the, and the clouds light up in a fiery display of orange and pink.

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