At first it looked like a brownish, furry lump in the middle of WYO 320. The wind blew and late morning sun peeked in and out of an active sky. Through a dirty windshield it was tough to make out. As the car rolled closer the profile of a small head emerged from the fur, then turned a few times trying to get her bearings then let out a cry. As she began struggling to rise my first thought was she’d been hit by a car . Once erect I could see new, young legs, thin and delicate wobbling as they tried to support her tiny mass. She couldn’t have been more than a few days old. The baby antelope took a few steps then stumbled, her front knees dropping to the dirt road. “I’m not gonna hurt you… just calm down” I said, wondering if she’d now have abrasions on her bony, new skin. She struggled to get up again, now in a panic.
Out of the corner of my eye to the left I picked up a flash moving fast across the sage. I turned to watch momma hurtling towards us full tilt. She was heroic, leaping 15 foot spans per stride until she appeared in front of the car – between baby and me. She turned and looked squarely at me, then swiveled her tan and white head towards baby who was continuing to stumble in a panic down the road.
Momma stood for a moment – which itself is remarkable – out here antelope have learned to fear vehicles; rifles emerging from a slowed truck’s rolled down window. After a moment she took off towards baby who had continued to run. Momma took the lead and baby tried to keep up, her head turning this way and that attempting to assess any threat until they both crossed the road again and bounded up the hill.
In the distance they stopped; baby nowhere to be seen, having dropped in the sage somewhere. Mom and dad stood together 200 yards away watching the car slowly drive off.