I took this photograph yesterday morning, as the deer proceeded quietly along the sidewalk across the street from our house. (That's our car in the lower right, proof that this is not out in the wild woods.) The deer did look round at me when I stepped outside with my camera, but they didn't run off.
We always see a few tracks and droppings in our yard come spring, and now and then in winter we see the deer themselves, but this year they are bolder and more numerous than ever before. I'm hoping they don't become resident pests here in Bozeman as they have in Helena, where they've caused such problems that they've had to be culled–i.e., shot. They leap out from between parked cars, causing accidents, heart attacks, and divorces (because of all the cursing), but that's nothing compared to the damage they do to gardens.
I've largely lost my childhood horror of hunting; after all, that's an attitude easier to maintain in New York City than it is here in Montana where hunting is a way of life. I've eaten too much local venison and bison to retain much sentimentality about it. But tracking and shooting wild animals that have the sense to flee seems a far cry from shooting those that hang around trustingly in the backyard.
And I'll admit that I'm still a long way from bagging my own meat; I'm in awe of a friend (a fellow classmate from Carleton, in fact) who learned to shoot after moving here to Montana, and who just last year went out into the woods, shot her deer, butchered it herself, and put up a year's worth of venison in a weekend. This is way beyond me, even if knees were not an issue.
However, if anything could drive me to take arms against a "sweet, innocent, harmless, leaf-eating, doe-eyed little deer" (as it's so winningly put in My Cousin Vinny which you must see at once if you haven’t already), then this would be it: a threat to my garden. So if you find me pacing the alley, rifle in hand, you'll know what happened: the deer have made their move.