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A soft glow shined from the camping lantern, illuminating the campsite near the hook that it was hung on. The family camping there had left it on as they went off to take a night hike.

Crickets chirped in the stillness as the light reached out to the neighboring trees, picnic table and tent. A few minutes went by and there was a rustle in the nearby bushes. As the bushes parted, a familiar site appeared – a family of raccoons. There were three in all.

They made their way slowly out of the shadows and into the light of the camping lantern. They immediately began scoping out the area, looking for food. The smallest one went behind the back of the tent. Another one went over to the picnic table. The third headed to the campfire ring. The one from behind the tent reappeared with no luck and joined the one by the table. Together, they climbed up onto the table and began looking around.

They only found a few scraps on top of the table and then began to make their way back down. Meanwhile, by the fire pit, the other raccoon found a treasure trove of marshmallows and hotdogs that must have fallen off during cooking. The other two saw his find and joined him by the fire ring. There was plenty there for the three of them and they wasted no time consuming the goods. The light from the lantern cast their shadows long across the ground, making them appear twice their size.

Raccoons near our tent

Eventually, after getting their fill, the raccoons made their way back into the woods and the site became still once again. The slight fog began to settle in with the cool air and blanketed the campsite. The crickets almost seemed to grow louder. Joining them, frogs from the nearby pond could be heard competing for the loudest croak.

The bushes rustled again. This time, it wasn’t raccoons. Instead, a doe came into the clearing, steadily, ears up and listening. It nibbled at some of the nearby leaves and gracefully walked toward the tent, sniffing the ground as it went. A few seconds behind it, a fawn followed close behind, staying near to its mother. The light from the lantern lit up the fawn’s fur, with white freckled spots.

The two of them walked around the campsite, seemingly unafraid of anything lurking nearby. They circled the picnic table and walked between the camping chairs, as still as could be imagined with their size. They each found leaves and berries along the edge of the site and spent some time nibbling.

Deer at the camping ground

In the distance, a young girl’s laughter broke the silence. Both deer looked up, with ears honing in on the sound. Then, a father’s voice could be heard. And then a brother’s, all getting closer to the site.

Suddenly, a family of campers came around the corner, just missing the deer who had left into the woods moments earlier.

The girl looked around and smiled.

See dear,” the father said. “Just like we left it. I told you no one would touch anything while we were gone.


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