I recently made a run to the Springs and back to Cuchara in one day. Not something I liked doing because it was a 13 hour day for me. I left at 7 in the morning and got home hours later. It was dark by the time I got to La Veta and headed out of town to Cuchara.
As I headed past the Big R and proceeded to make the turn on Hwy 12, something caught my eye in the headlights. Something moving very, very slowly across the road in the dark.
I came to a full stop and realized it was the Old Man of La Veta, the Prince of the Mule Deers, or The Bishop, as some call him was slowing making his way across the highway in the dark of night. He was in no hurry, and was not fazed in the least by my headlights or approaching car. I watched him calmly cross the road and get to the culvert and look down as if, “what do I do now”. I so badly wanted to help him. The way he strode made me think he body is now full of arthritis and the way he looked at that culvert with his head almost touching the ground, led me to believe he might also have trouble seeing due to old age or cataracts.
He normally resides in the front lawn of the Catholic Church on Main Street. There, in the summertime, you can almost walk right up to him and give him a pet, though I wouldn’t try it. He barely blinks an eye when you take his photo. In fact, the first time I saw him, I wondered if he were even real. I wondered if he was alive? He didn’t move a muscle as I approached him to take his picture. I mean how often do you see a large buck, just sitting there, posing for a photo?
For a mule deer, their large mule like ears which they can move independently, allows them to survey their surroundings for sounds of potential danger. Their hearing is keen.
Mule deer usually live 9 to 11 years in the wild and this guy has to be up there in years. It looks like at one time he may have been a 12 or 14 pointer, but it’s obvious from more recent photos that some on those antlers have broken off.
This Spring, if you are in La Veta, keep an eye out for this master of old age. He usually likes to hide in the shade on the front lawn of the Catholic Church. No one knows where he winters, and I haven’t seen him again since crossing the road a couple months ago. But if you do see this old guy, give him a nod, and let me know he’s ok!