There’s Something Wrong With the Deer on Our Nature Reserve – They’ve Started Standing Up

📅 Published on July 22, 2021

“There’s Something Wrong With the Deer on Our Nature Reserve – They’ve Started Standing Up”

Written by T.J. Lea
Edited by Craig Groshek
Thumbnail Art by Craig Groshek
Narrated by N/A

Copyright Statement: Unless explicitly stated, all stories published on are the property of (and under copyright to) their respective authors, and may not be narrated or performed, adapted to film, television or audio mediums, republished in a print or electronic book, reposted on any other website, blog, or online platform, or otherwise monetized without the express written consent of its author(s).

🎧 Available Audio Adaptations: None Available


Rating: 9.67/10. From 6 votes.
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I’ve lived in this town all my life, I know all the weird traditions that come with living in a place as remote as mine. But nothing explains what happens at our Deer Park.

I used to come out here most evenings during the pandemic, park up by the base of the hill overlooking the sanctuary and just immerse myself in nature. I was always mindful of the distance I had to keep from the deer, particularly during mating season, and it wasn’t like the deer didn’t know what a car was. These were in their own reserve, sure, but the trail cut right through their vast fields and they’d grown accustomed to seeing cars all manner of times in the day and evening.

Which is what makes the situation all the more unsettling.

Starting last week, a sign was put up on the entrance gate to the park, impossible to miss as the car slowed and the tires rolled over the metal grates. With it being the late hours and very few cars on the road, I decided to stop and read it in full:

“A polite notice to our valued visitors entering The Oboro Nature Reserve:

Our deer are exhibiting unusual behaviors and we are politely requesting you observe the following guidelines in place as to best protect yourself and the wellbeing of our deer.

1: While the park is open 24 hours a day, we are recommending visitors do not stop their cars during observable grazing periods and on midsummer nights. You are welcome to drive through and observe from a distance, but please do not slow down or stop.

2: Should you be slowed or stopped at any other time and the deer be curious by your vehicle, act calmly and do not speed up. Let them inspect you and judge you as a safe passer-by. If they begin snorting, that is your cue to leave.

3: There have been reports of deer standing on their hind legs and remaining idle in the fields. These rumors are a fallacy. Please do not pay any attention to them.

4: There is a Black Stag that holds dominion over the western herd, his antlers are sharp and his stride is impressive, but do not attempt to approach him. Please pay him the respect you would normally and do not stare at any of the females in his harem, he will charge you. Bucks are not friendly.

5: Deer remember faces. They can recognize you from a distance and will verify your smell as you get closer, listening intently the entire time. There are many of them and only one of you. You would do well to mind that.

6: Lastly, no matter what salacious rumors have been propagating amongst the community, the Deer are NOT congregating in the dead of night. Deer are social animals that sleep and graze together in a herd. This is normal. The Deer are acting normally. 

Drive safely. Keep your doors locked and have a lovely drive in The Oboro Nature Reserve!”

Strange, right? The notice wasn’t your usual steel sign with carefully embossed wording. Rather, it’d been hastily marked up and nailed to the wall adjacent to the welcome sign, as if in a hurry. I’d not heard any sorts of rumors around town, and nobody had complained about the deer park. We’re a population of maybe 2,000, so it’s not hard for word to get about.

Still, I had my routine and intended to stick to it. Some of the info was valuable for newcomers; there was indeed a large black Buck who paraded the western herd. His name was Joe-Joe, and I fully believed he would gore anyone who outstayed their welcome or got too close. A beautiful specimen of muscle and authority. He ensured his harem never strayed too far and seemed to be borderline obsessive about making sure they never went across to the eastern side where the large swathes of trees sat.

In fact, I’d observed him on a couple of occasions actively nudging or ramming younger males away from the split in the road and back to safety. On the rare occasion that a member of the herd crossed the line, he would refuse to acknowledge them and actively keep them away from entering, as if they were banished.

As I drove through the archway, I realized I’d not seen many deer in the eastern section of the park, looking out my window and staring as the makeshift forest to my right and a burning question coming to the forefront of my mind that didn’t leave as I reached the hill overlooking both sides of the hill: Where are the rest of the deer?

It was… unnerving to sit there and try to enact my ritual of writing under the clear night when there was a strict absence of the herd where they should be. I tried to focus, but something was pulling my eyes back to looking at that spot time and time again.

Eventually, I decided that I needed to get some fresh air and take a better look, satiate my curiosity and then, with my mind at ease, I can get back to finishing my blog. The air is humid when I step outside. No breeze and the stars are out on full display. Thank goodness for no light pollution in the countryside. I leave the engine running and walk to the barrier my car is parked in front of, leaning over and taking a pair of binoculars I bring for slower days when I want to see the deer in better detail.

As I direct my vision to the eastern herd, I see something darting in the tree-line. It’s quick, hairy, and seemed to move the second my binoculars motioned towards it. Even a deer shouldn’t be that spooked, especially from this distance…

My joints seize up and I damn near drop the binoculars when I hear a familiar snorting from behind me. I turn and see Joe-Joe, standing 15ft from me, just by the rear of my car and his eyes gleaming in my rear lights. His head is low and his antlers are thick, sharp and aimed at me. In that moment, I don’t know if he’s going to charge and whether I should be fighting for my damn life.

Instead, I do as I was instructed and stay still, not making sudden movements as he snorts again, closing the gap between us slowly. As he gets within 5 feet of me, he rears his head up. I see the most baffling expression on his face for a fleeting moment;


Something ripples through the eastern forest and birds begin flying away in droves. Some of the deer herd in the western area are circling something and Joe-Joe immediately bounds down and out of sight to control the chaos.

I waste no time getting in my car and driving down after them, keeping the doors locked, the window open a crack and my speed at a decent crawl.

As I come along the embankment that connects to the road, I see Joe-Joe running full sprint towards another deer. He knocks the rival over and contorts the body as it skids across the grass and falls into the trail just ahead of my car. I know I’m not supposed to, but I stop the car and wait. In a choice between breaking the rules and breaking my car; I’ll choose the former any day.

The western herd deer under Joe-Joe’s command are gathering behind him, making horrific shrieks of terror. Joe-Joe strides up and bows his head again in front of the still contorted deer, antlers on full display and dripping with black blood. It was a clear threat: Do not come back here if you value your life.

I started wondering how I’d safely get this deer out of the way, or if I could mount the grass on the other side and go around it, when I saw something horrific unfold in front of me.

The body twisted itself around and the limbs snapped to reset themselves, the head still cracked at an ugly angle, bones sticking out of the sides as it got onto shaking legs.

When it screamed, it sounded as if its lungs were filled with blood. A horrible, muted cry of anguish that backed up every other deer but Joe-Joe. I don’t know what was keeping this fucking thing standing, but it let its head flop lazily around as it carefully backed away onto the eastern side of the reserve before bounding into the tree-line as if nothing were wrong.

My rational mind chalked it up to adrenaline and the instinct to survive, but it was impossible to shake the feeling that something was wrong. I carried on driving as soon as the deer was out of sight, not looking at Joe-Joe or the others as I carried on down the trail. For the remaining few minutes, I felt unseen eyes staring intently at me until I crossed the threshold and back into civilization. I’d never been more grateful to see other humans… or my bed. Something about the whole incident just took it out of me.

As I slept that night, I’d dreamed I was a deer alongside Joe-Joe, frolicking in the herd and grazing peacefully. But as I cast my eyes upwards to the sky, a bitter chill on the wind, I saw the moon bathed in an almost purple plume, a strange light cast onto the land and noises rustling from the woods opposite. I don’t know how I knew this, but something in me instinctively knew we weren’t supposed to go there. I saw shapes begin to emerge from the trees and that same horrible shriek ring out as I woke up in a sweat.

I leaned forward to catch my breath and grab a glass of water. As I changed positions to reach for my nightstand, I swear I heard the sound of something running up the trail to my house. I was probably still half-asleep, but that didn’t make it any more damn unnerving.

I decided it would be best to drive out the next night and confront my concerns head-on. If I’m not going to sleep soundly, then I should use my time wisely and document what I’m seeing, maybe pass it to the rangers in the morning, right? When I drove back out there last night, the atmosphere was vastly different. A mist was enshrouding the trail and the majority of the deer on the western side huddled together, shaking and staring intently at the other side of the nature reserve. I couldn’t see Joe-Joe anywhere.

Strange, I thought. Alpha males patrol their herds dutifully. Why wasn’t he there? I parked up at my usual spot and, making sure he wasn’t around, I pulled out my binoculars again and stared at the eastern area; the clouds beginning to part as the moon shone through.

There was movement all along the tree-line as shapes began emerging one by one. I think it took my mind a moment to process what I was seeing.

I’d finally seen the deer on the eastern side, but they were wrong. Very, very wrong.

Standing on their hind legs and taking confident, awkward steps, they marched out of the trees with their heads craned to the sky, all of them emitting that horrible sound like their heads were being held underwater as they screamed. It reverberated in my ears and made my skin break out in goosebumps.

There were dozens of them, maybe a couple of hundred. Some were dragging a structure out with them, others hauling a writhing shape I couldn’t quite see. They congregated in a small huddle, the center of which was obscured from my vision. I looked over to Joe-Joe’s herd and saw the fear in their eyes, so many of them shaking and their teeth bared. A primal fear we humans have largely lost in the safety of being the dominant species.

But this night showed me we’re not as powerful as we think we are.

As the huddle broke away and began walking again towards the edge of their field, I saw what they’d been huddled around.


He was still alive, but barely moving and breathing heavily, his eyes glazed over. When he began to come to, he started shrieking like a fawn. It was unnerving.

They dragged him to the structure; a primitive set of steps with a hollowed out a hole in its center, coated in a thick substance on the sides. Just large enough for Joe-Joe to be thrown into.

I watched these… things. These “not deer” use their front hooves to hoist him up and into the hole, his screaming incessant the entire time. They stood around it, their necks cracked as they stared at the moon and shrieked.

I looked up with them, wondering if what they sought was up there in the skies. A kind of primitive god for these creatures? I should’ve known better, of course.

Whatever god these not deer prayed to. It didn’t reside up above.

No, it lurked deep below.

A low groan called out in response. It possessed the same blood-filled lungs these monstrosities had, and Joe-Joe’s deer huddled closer together at its roar. Joe-Joe had stopped moving, his crying completely gone as the not-deer too fell silent and formed a circle around their alter, snorting in unison.

It grew to a fever pitch before something began dragging Joe-Joe from beneath, ripping at his limbs and pulling until a horrific squelch indicated the top had separated from the bottom. The hole spurted out blood and chunks of deer as the not-deer celebrated, danced in the rain, and feasted on the pieces.

One final roar rang out from the unseen creature. It shook the ground, and I felt my balance waver for just a moment, steadying myself on the car.

I know I should’ve booked it out of there, but I was desperate to understand what I was seeing, rationalizing that perhaps this was a bizarre art piece… maybe a protest from an animal rights group or even a bunch of edgy satanic teens?

But that rational voice in my head grew very, very quiet when I grabbed my binoculars to look again.

Every single one of them was staring up at me. Emotionless, black eyes fixated on my position.

I didn’t wait any longer; I drove out of there at a breakneck pace, not looking at either side of the park on my exit and damn near coming off the road with the lack of traction.

As I got to the archway, my tires smashing against the grate, I’d inadvertently attracted the forest ranger on duty. He pulled me over and walked up to my window, a friendly smile on his face.

“You know there’s a speed limit there for a reason, right son?”

“Yeah… Yeah, I’m sorry. I got a little spooked is all.” I smiled back. Nerves shot to hell. He raised an eyebrow.

“You didn’t break one of our rules now, did you?”

“Oh, no! I kept to them, it’s just… well… Joe-Joe got attacked by the eastern deer and I don’t think he’s doing well, it was just a shock to take in.” I figured telling a half-truth would be best, couldn’t exactly say what I thought I’d really seen now, could I?

“That so… well, they make their choices carefully. We don’t know much, but we do know not to interfere. This is how it’s always been. Animals have strange practices, you get how it is. But, so long as they didn’t look at you, you’re fine. Deer remember faces, after all. Thanks for visiting, drive safe!” He smiled again and tipped his hat before walking off to his station.

My blood ran cold and I couldn’t get those words out of my head on the entire drive home.

“But, so long as they didn’t look at you, you’re fine.”

I’ve not stepped outside my house since last night. I live in a remote part of the village and while I enjoy the privacy, it’s been a hotbed for strange noises and unsettling emotions. Everywhere I go in my home, I feel like I’m being watched by those same vacant eyes.

What happens now? What happens to those they look at?

I can’t get their eyes out of my head and I can’t sleep worth a damn, either. This isn’t going to end until I figure out what they want.

I wish I had more for you. I wish I could tell you what the not-deer were, what they prayed to, why they sacrificed, what the ranger knew… but there are so many unknowables that it makes my head spin.

It’s just like being deep in the woods. So many twists and turns, you never know which is the right path to take and what danger lurks behind every tree.

I don’t know what the deer are doing. I don’t know what is going on at that park.

But if you value your life: You’ll stay far, far away from it.

And whatever monster they’re praying to.

Rating: 9.67/10. From 6 votes.
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🎧 Available Audio Adaptations: None Available

Written by T.J. Lea
Edited by Craig Groshek
Thumbnail Art by Craig Groshek
Narrated by N/A

🔔 More stories from author: T.J. Lea

Publisher's Notes: N/A

Author's Notes: N/A

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Copyright Statement: Unless explicitly stated, all stories published on are the property of (and under copyright to) their respective authors, and may not be narrated or performed, adapted to film, television or audio mediums, republished in a print or electronic book, reposted on any other website, blog, or online platform, or otherwise monetized without the express written consent of its author(s).

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