- Adventure Journal
Enter the trail past the boulders and stop after 10 m.
Can you survive as a deer? Explore the path ahead. Use all of your deer senses to find the things you need to live. Will you become someone else’s dinner? The clues for survival also lead you to the hidden plaque! Are you ready to become a deer?
If you feel that it is safe, sneak up the trail on your tiptoes, taking cover behind trees as you go. If you sense trouble, snort to warn others. Everyone must hide behind a tree.
When a deer is frightened, it puts up its tail, showing its white underside. This acts as a warning to other deer of danger. It may also snort a loud whistle through its nose as a danger signal.
Walk 90 m down the trail and turn right on a small path. After about 20 m on the path, find the opening to your right. Stop here
The little opening to your right was a farm over 60 years ago. This is a secret deer feeding ground. Make binoculars with your hands and put them up to your eyes so that you can search the area for movements to make sure it is safe to pass by it on the trail. Continue another 20 metres and go back into the forest. Stop when you see the old farm’s stone wall on your right.
William and Mary Dart built the Dart Farm on this site in the 1840s. At one point the post office for the area was run out of the house. It was moved to the Old Sambro Road in the 1950s, where it still stands so that this land could be preserved for the Halifax water supply. In 1978, the city found another water supply and this area became Long Lake Provincial Park.
Deer like places where two habitats come together, like this field and forest. There’s twice as much food to be found. See if you can find all of the deer food listed below. Don’t pick or eat any of it yourself.
Which one of its senses does a deer use here to find food?
Suddenly you sniff danger. Sneak back to the main trail and use your binocular eyes to search for enemies.
On your way back to the trail, just after the opening, use your deer senses to search for the remains of an old foundation on the right before you hit the main trail. Can you imagine the house? Who lived here? Where did the people get their water? Where were the gardens that deer could sneak into and munch food?
Return to the trail, turn left and stand with your back to the boulder entrance.
It was a false alarm, but you’d better practise your listening skills. You’ll be lunch if a predator such as a coyote, bobcat or lynx sneaks up on you. Here’s how to test your skills.
(With only two people, take turns and see how close the coyote can get to the deer without being caught.)
Which one of its senses helps the deer survive here?
White-tailed deer are not native to Nova Scotia but were first introduced here from New Brunswick and the United States in the 1890s by hunters.30 Our native large herbivores were moose and caribou. Caribou were declining at the time, possibly due to unsustainable hunting by European settlers and habitat change. Deer likely eliminated the caribou throughout Nova Scotia because they carried a parasitic worm that is fatal to caribou and moose, but not deer. The parasite has also left very few Mainland Moose in Nova Scotia, now an endangered subspecies with less than 1000 individuals, though there is a significant moose population in Cape Breton.31 In turn, the deer population, particularly along the South Shore of Nova Scotia, has skyrocketed. Deer are now able to survive the milder winters, they have few predators, hunting is not common in populated areas, and they have adapted to human development. Human intervention has shifted the creatures around us.
From where the farm side trail hits the main trail, walk up the main trail about 40 m and stop at a two-metre long path on the right, across from the fallen tree which opens onto the edge of a small pool of water.
This is a deer watering hole. Don’t drink this water yourself. Which one of its senses does a deer use to try the water to see if it is good to drink?
Search the area carefully to make sure it is safe. Find evidence left by other creatures. Look along the edge of the water, on the path and in the trees nearby. Only go 15 steps off the main path. Put a check next to the clues you discover:
Deer, coyotes, plants, insects and water creatures— each creature affects all of the others, no matter what they do. When deer leave behind droppings, they fertilize the plants, helping them grow. When coyotes eat deer, the carcasses are food for insects and other creatures. When insects fly over water, fish jump up and eat them. The fish and the trees are linked, though you wouldn’t think so at first. The trees shade the pond and keep the water cool for the fish. Each creature meets its needs while it interacts with other creatures. What is the earthwork described here?
Walk up the trail about 95 m and stop where you see a large section of flat rock right on the path.
When it is windy or rainy a deer looks for shelter. The best shelter is a covered and dry spot with soft ground. Which one of its senses does a deer use when it feels for soft ground?
Trees give deer something else besides shelter. To discover it, take a deep breath. Hold it for five seconds and breathe out. What did you breathe in? Yes, it’s oxygen in the air and it’s something the trees give to deer and all other creatures.
It’s time for some deer fun. Prance up the trail and try to tag your deer friends.
Trailing arbutus, also called mayflower, is Nova Scotia’s provincial flower. It has sweet-smelling clusters of little pale-pink flowers in the spring. Deer sometimes eat this plant. Mayflowers are disappearing in some places because people are picking and selling them in cities and towns. There are a good number on this trail.
Walk 190 m up the trail to the opening of another grassy trail on the left.
You are hungry again. Use a different sense to find food this time. On the left, just before the new path, look for a little green plant trailing along the ground. These are mayflowers. In the spring their flowers smell sweet. The leaves are good to sniff too!
Moose is a very important food source for the Mi’kmaq, even today. Mi’kmaq must hunt with love in their hearts and always maintain respect for the moose. They are harvested with love and care. None of the moose is wasted, parts not utilized for food, craft, tools, or clothing are either buried or left for scavengers. The meat from the moose must be shared with the community, especially with people in need.
Stay on the main path and walk 50 m. Stop when you can just see the brook crossing the trail up ahead.
Which one of its senses is the deer using to find good food?
Can you hear the brook up ahead? Beware, this is a place where predators lurk. Practice finding predators.
Deer and coyotes use camouflage to hide. This means their colourings help them blend in with everything around them so that other creatures can’t see them.
A common problem in parks and hiking areas occurs after people create their own trails without permission. These trails can often cut through sensitive areas, such as wetlands, or where there are rare plants. Here are some things you and your family can do to respect and protect our trails and forests while hiking:
Run like a deer to the edge of the brook crossing the trail.
Who blended in best in this game?
You’ve reached the end of the trail. Have you figured out what four things a deer needs to survive and what five senses a deer uses to find them? Fill in the needs and sense words below that you have discovered along the trail.
Now use your deer senses to find what you think would be the most delicious plant for a deer to eat. To search for the mystery plaque, head up the path on the right side of the brook about 10 m and look on the bottom of trees nearby. There are a lot of interesting plants along the edge of the brook upstream. Take a picture of your favourite and upload it if you choose.
The plaque symbol is:
Congratulations, you’ve survived as a deer! If you want to explore this trail further, be careful and find a safe way to cross the stream if the water is not too high. Up the trail is the site of the Umlah farm, another abandoned historical site.