Florida Getaways of the Day
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Big Pine: Wild encounters in the Keys( PHOTO COURTESY DEFENDERS OF WILDLIFE )
We took many trips to the Keys, driving slowly through Big Pine Key watching for deer, without encountering these mini-Bambis. That changed the time we stayed at Deer Run, a lovely guest house on Big Pine Key, where a dozen deer hang out every morning and evening. On the same road are two other bed and breakfast spots, and we've read the deer are equally visible there: The Barnacle and Casa Grande.
The dog-sized deer have lost all fear of man. Feeding members of this endangered species is a crime, but it is apparently a common one. The easiest way to get a close-up look at these deer was to rustle a potato-chip bag. The deer trotted over and stared up entreatingly with their big moist eyes and their long eyelashes.
If you don't stay at a spot in Big Pine close to the deer, we are told it is easy to spot them at dusk in a few places: Along Long Beach Drive and on No Name Key (access this adjoining island off Key Deer Boulevard.)
Drive very carefully. As evidenced in this photo, these deer wander carelessly onto roads and dozens die each year.
-- Bonnie Gross, Sun-Sentinel
GETTING THERE: Overseas Highway, between mile markers 29.5 and 33 (Big Pine Key).
On the web, go to www.defenders.org