Deer are one of the few species that is actually more plentiful in North America now than they were when Europeans arrived. Our penchant for creating open spaces for homesteading and farming led us to reduce the forested area of the United States by about 1,000,000 square kilometers (~386,000 square miles) between 1610 and now. As a result of increased grazing lands and reduced numbers of predators, deer populations exploded.
I see deer more often than not when I hike in coastal California, but it’s still a treat to lock gazes with one and observe the rhythm of its breathing, and the twitch of its ears. Children are especially enthralled with animals; perhaps the millions of years we spent as hunter-gatherers tuned our perception of other species in ways that haven’t entirely faded in 50,000 years of agrarian life.