With yet another winter storm approaching, Dan Daley and his wife, Shannon, woke up Saturday and decided to hit the road for a day trip.
“My wife and I love taking rides in the Jeep,” he explained. “Some people forget to be tourists in their own backyard. Eastport is just a half hour away, so I said, ‘Let’s go check out the snowbanks.'”
Eastport, as you may have heard, is among those Maine communities that have been hardest hit by the last month of storms. As of Monday, 99 inches of snow had fallen on the state’s easternmost city.
But as their trip progressed, the Daleys saw a lot more than snowbanks.
They found deer. Lots of deer. And luckily, Dan Daley, an avid YouTube contributor, never travels without a camera or two with him.
“I’ve got 205 videos out there,” he said. “I’ve been playing the YouTube game since 2005.”
While driving a loop around town, they first saw a pair of deer looking in the windows of an assisted living facility.
“One was kind of standing 10 feet away from the assisted living home and one was right at the window,” Daley said. “I filmed those for three or four minutes. That was a pretty good find.”
It only got better from there.
“We swing around the corner and there’s one house and I see, through the alders, eight or nine deer in around this house,” he said. “It hadn’t been plowed out, so [the house] must have been a summer residence.”
Again, Daley started filming, and the deer didn’t seem to mind.
“They didn’t seem affected by us,” he said. “They didn’t seem to care.”
At that point, Daley figured he had filmed enough to make a cool video. But on the way out of town, the couple found even more deer.
“I saw this deer start to run, and I saw this ‘Deer Crossing’ sign,” he said. “I knew the deer was running toward that sign, so I gave my little spiel [on the video], ‘What are the chances of filming a deer at a ‘Deer Crossing’ sign?”
Daley said he didn’t get a great shot of the law-abiding deer crossing the road exactly where it was supposed to cross. That didn’t really matter.
“We probably go 500 feet more and I look and [deer] are leaping off onto the road. One, two, three. I’m counting and there’s like 15 of these things,” he said.
Daley parked the Jeep and kept filming, and after he shut off the engine, the herd returned to browsing on boughs, licking salt off the road, and munching on a small pile of snacks that somebody left in the road.
At one point in the video, Daley pointed his GoPro camera at the side mirror: Deer were approaching. He pointed the camera at the rear-view mirror: Other deer were approaching. In front and on both sides of the Jeep, there were deer.
“I said, ‘We’re surrounded!'” Daley said. “They’re browsing, they’re licking the salt off the road, and then they’re walking up right beside the Jeep.”
Daley said he captured about 30 minutes of video that he edited down to six minutes. Cutting from the raw footage was tough, he said, but he knew few people would sit through a half-hour video of deer. Daley did say, however, that everything he kept in the video is “linear,” meaning the scenes he shares took place in the order that they’re shown.
So, how many deer were in the herd?
“I know literally that I had 15 to 18 that were by themselves [at one point],” he said. “I can say with a straight face that it was 25 deer.”
Daley, who is a fisherman and hunter, said he knows that the state’s deer herd in Down East sections of the state has struggled over the past few decades.
But he also said that in certain spots, he knows there are plenty of deer that congregate.
“There are pockets of deer that I’m seeing,” he said. “Anywhere the state of Maine has taken the time to put up a ‘Deer Crossing’ sign, you’d better pay attention.”