Trots With Deer

I went for my first run in nearly 3 months (!) today. I’m being generous to call it a run, as it involved a good amount of walking and I was not setting any land speed records when  moving above a walk. But I just signed up for a half marathon in March, which means it’s time to get going again.

Down near the main road where I turn around, I startled a doe. With the creek and turn of the road, she was actually below me and chose to run up on to the road rather than across the creek to get away. But she didn’t leave the road immediately, instead she trotted along for about 100 feet, roughly 50 feet ahead of me. So for a few seconds, we were running, err, trotting together. Then she took off up the hill on the non-creek side of the road.

It was a cool thing to watch though, because it got me thinking about a deer’s gait. I used to ride horses semi-regularly when I was kid, and while they have some vertical movement to their gait, this tends to even out at higher speeds. In other words, a galloping horse doesn’t move up and down as much as a trotting horse. Deer, I’ve noticed, tend to bound when they want to move quickly. I assume this results in a less efficient escape speed, but does put them all over the place in terms of being able to evade a predator. So I was left wondering: 1) how does a deer look when running flat out and 2) do they ever really do this? When we startle deer on our property, they cutely bound away. But could they sprint?

It’s entirely possible that my mind wanders to weird places when I’m trotting. Or I’ve been dwelling too much on the efficiency of my own trot.


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