It just so happens that a particular park in Northern Virginia called “Wakefield Park” is home to big white-tailed deer. This buck (and his herd of does) rule the park with both the business end of pointee antlers and a tough DC attitude. Because it’s a park, they live free from most predators. Although they tend to steer clear of most visitors, they have at times given local mountain bike riders the “what for”. This was my encounter with The Wolfbouncer — a 10-point buck who decided one day to tell me that “YOU SHALL NOT PASS”!
Riding my mountain bike on the Wakefield MTB trails, I rode up to this buck blocking the trail. Normally, they give you a look of derision and scamper away. However, this time he decided to stand his ground. As I skidded to a stop, he lowered his head, snorted his displeasure, and started stomping his feet. All bad signs if you know anything about deer during mating season. The thoughts that run through your mind when coming face-to-face with an angry animal — an animal, mind you, that comes complete with a head full of sharp knives — range from “FLY YOU FOOL” to “DON’T MOVE, MAYBE HE WON’T SEE YOU”. So I decided to listen to the latter and stayed locked in this stalemate for what seemed like a very long minute. Me, staring blankly at The Wolfbouncer, and The Wolfbouncer, snorting, stomping, and deciding how many cutlets to make of my face.
Then, almost as if she planned it, his mate jumped onto the trail to break the impasse. She was a dainty doe who stood only half the size of the buck, but stood “in between” us as a path referee. After giving me a hard stare — I’m guessing to determine the measure of me and my bike — she moved on and disappeared into the treeline. The Wolfbouncer soon followed after, but not before he gave me one last Washington DC “what for” via a strange howling hoot-snort that I’m sure if I has a universal translator would result in some kind of insult.
Since that encounter, several other mountain bikers I ride with have had the same experience. It happened so often now that we started to affectionately called this trail guardian “The Wolfbouncer” — since we’re sure no pack of wolves would stand a chance against this tough trail boss! I liked the name so much I even named a mountain bike racing series after the buck. Of all the things I’ve encountered on the trail while riding my mountain bike — foxes, eagles, bats, coyotes, dogs, snakes, rabbits, bears — The Wolfbouncer is the only one that forced me to practice how to use my bike as a shield, and to start carrying a whistle with me every time I ride. However, at that park — Wakefield Park — I strangely feel safe to ride even in the dark. There is just something about a trail spirit like The Wolfbouncer that just makes mountain biking there feel safe. So long as you can get past the angry snorting and the sharp pointee things aimed at your face!