Deer BOOK LOOK – Chapter 9 – Sammy Jay Makes the Call

Original story written in 1921 by Thornton Burgess and revised by P.L.A.Y. for the 21st century family.

– Chapter 9 –

Sammy Jay Makes the Call


Sammy Jay was bubbling over with excitement as he flew about through the Green Forest, following Lightfoot the Deer. He was so excited he wanted to call out. And yet he didn’t. He kept his tongue still. You see, he didn’t want Lightfoot to know that he was being followed. Under that pointed cap of Sammy Jay’s are quick wits. It didn’t take him long to discover that the big stranger whom Lightfoot was seeking was doing his best to keep out of Lightfoot’s way and that he was having no difficulty in doing so because of the random way in which Lightfoot was searching for him. Lightfoot made so much noise that it was quite easy to know just where he was and to keep out of his sight.

“That stranger is nearly as big as Lightfoot, however it is very plain that he doesn’t want to be challenged,” thought Sammy.

Now the truth is as big as he was, the stranger wasn’t quite so big as Lightfoot, and he knew it. He had seen Lightfoot’s big hoofprints, and from their size he knew that Lightfoot must be bigger and heavier than he. Then, too, he knew that he really had no right to be there in the Green Forest as that was Lightfoot’s home. He knew that Lightfoot would feel this way about it and that this would make him challenge the newcomer. So the big stranger wanted to avoid meeting Lightfoot. And yet he wanted still more to find that beautiful young visitor with the dainty feet for whom Lightfoot had been looking. He wanted to find her just as much as
Lightfoot wanted to find her, and he hoped that if he did find her, he could get her to go away with him back to the Great Mountain.

All this Sammy Jay guessed, and after a while he grew tired of following Lightfoot for nothing. “I’ll have to help in this thing myself,” muttered Sammy. “At this rate, Lightfoot never will find that big newcomer!”

So Sammy stopped following Lightfoot and began to search through the Green Forest for the big newcomer. It didn’t take very long to find him. He was over near the pond of Paddy the Beaver. As soon as he saw him, Sammy began to call out at the top of his lungs. At once he heard the sound of snapping twigs at the top of a little ridge back of Paddy’s pond and knew that Lightfoot had heard and understood.

Signs of Sammy Jay Making the Call!

Capture your thoughts in your P.L.A.Y. Adventures nature journal!

  1. Have you heard a Blue Jay call?
  2. Have you ever wondered what the Blue Jay may be giving a warning call for? Is it your presence or something else?
  3. How do you feel about Sammy Jay calling out and exposing where the newcomer deer was in the Green Forest?
  4. Did you know that when some birds call out they are warning other birds and animals of a change in the forest or nearby area?
  5. More P.L.A.Y. Bird adventures, stories, and resources can be found HERE.

Deer BOOK LOOK – Chapter 8 – Lightfoot’s Challenge

Originally written in 1921 by Thornton Burgess and revised by P.L.A.Y. for the 21st century family.

– Chapter 8 –

Lightfoot’s Challenge


In his search for the latest newcomer who had come to the Green Forest, Lightfoot the Deer no longer stole like a gray shadow from thicket to thicket as he had done when searching for the beautiful newcomer with the dainty feet. Now he bounded along, not caring how much noise he made. From time to time he would stop to whistle a challenge and to clash his antlers against the trees and stamp the ground with his feet.

Now and then he found the larger newcomer’s tracks, and from them he knew that this newcomer was doing just what he had been doing, which was seeking to find the beautiful newcomer with the dainty feet. Each time he found these signs Lightfoot became more frustrated.

Of course it didn’t take Sammy Jay long to discover what was going on. There is little that escapes those sharp eyes of Sammy Jay. As you know, he had early discovered the game of hide-and-seek that Lightfoot had been playing with the beautiful young visitor who had come down to the Green Forest from the Great Mountain. Then, by chance, Sammy had visited the Laughing Brook just as the larger newcomer had come down there to drink. For once Sammy had kept his tongue still. “There is going to be excitement here when Lightfoot discovers this fellow,” thought Sammy. “If they ever meet, and I have a feeling that they will, there is going
to be a challenge.”

Of course, Lightfoot knew nothing about all this. His one thought was to find that big newcomer and drive him from the Green Forest, and so he continued his search tirelessly.

Larger newcomer leaving signs behind.

Capture your thoughts in your P.L.A.Y. Adventures nature journal!

  1. Have you ever heard the phrase “A bird’s eye view”? What does it mean?
  2. With Sammy Jay’s use of his “bird’s eye view” what advantages does he have in seeing stories unfold in the Green Forest?
  3. Are there any disadvantages to Sammy Jay’s use of his “bird’s eye view”?
  4. Why does Sammy Jay think there is going to be a challenge when Lightfoot the Deer meets this newcomer? What does he know? or not know?
  5. Why does Lightfoot the Deer say he wants to drive the newcomer from the forest vs. welcoming them? What natural behavior is playing out for this deer?

Deer BOOK LOOK – Chapter 6 – A Game of Hide-N-Seek

Original story written in 1921 by Thornton Burgess and revised by P.L.A.Y. for the 21st century family.

– Chapter 6 –

A Game of Hide-N-Seek


Little did he know that he, Lightfoot the Deer, was playing hide-and-seek in the Green Forest. He was “it”, and some one else was doing the hiding. He was now filled with longing to find and make friends with the beautiful newcomer of whom he had just once caught a glimpse, and of whom every day he found tracks.

At times Lightfoot would get frustrated. He would stamp his feet angrily and thrash the bushes with his great spreading antlers as if they were an enemy with whom he was fighting. More than once when he did this a pair of great, soft, gentle eyes were watching him, though he didn’t know it. If he could have seen them and the look of admiration in them, he would have been more eager than ever to find that beautiful newcomer.

At other times Lightfoot would steal about through the Green Forest as noiselessly as a shadow. He would peer into thickets and behind tangles of fallen trees and brush piles, hoping to surprise the one he sought. He would be very, very patient. He had thought himself very clever until this newcomer proved herself more clever.

Of course it wasn’t long before all the critters in the Green Forest knew what was going on. They knew all about that game of hide-and-seek. And instead of trying to help Lightfoot they gave him no help at all. The fact is, they were enjoying this game. Mischievous Sammy Jay even went so far as to warn the newcomer several times when Lightfoot was approaching. Of course Lightfoot knew when Sammy did this, and each time he got very frustrated.

Once Lightfoot almost ran smack into Buster Bear who just grinned good naturedly and allowed Lightfoot to continue on his search and go bounding away.

Then there were times when Lightfoot would sulk and would declare over and over to himself, “I don’t care anything about that newcomer and I won’t spend another minute looking for her,” and then within five minutes he would be watching, listening, and seeking some sign that she was still in the Green Forest.

Signs that the newcomer is still around and playing Hide-n-Seek.

Capture your thoughts in your P.L.A.Y. Adventures nature journal!

  1. When you feel out-of-sorts or you are frustrated have you ever gone outdoors and spent time in nature to regroup? If not, give it a try!
  2. How does the sound of the wind or songs of the birds, rays of sunshine or sprinkling of rain, scent of fresh flowers or the grass between your toes feel? Does it shift your mood?
  3. Does taking a moment outdoors help you feel grounded and centered and connected to the Great World and all that Mother Nature has created?
  4. Bring your P.L.A.Y. Adventures nature journal outdoors and find a spot to simply sit and soak in all that nature has in store for you in the present moment and then try to capture it in your journal through writing, coloring, drawing, or painting. Ahhh . . . peace-filled P.L.A.Y.!

Deer BOOK LOOK -Chapter 2- The Adventures of Lightfoot the Deer

Original 1921 story written by Thornton Burgess now revised for the 21st century family.

– Chapter 2 –

Lightfoot the Deer’s New Antlers


Peter Rabbit was puzzled and curious again. He stared at Lightfoot the Deer a wee bit suspiciously. “Have you been tearing somebody’s coat?” he asked.

He didn’t like to think this of Lightfoot, whom he always had believed was quite gentle, harmless, and as timid as himself. However, what else could he think as he looked upon those rags hanging from his antlers?

Lightfoot slowly shook his head. “No,” he said, “I haven’t torn anybody’s coat.”

“Then what are those rags hanging on your antlers?” inquired Peter.

Lightfoot chuckled. “They are what is left of the coverings of my new antlers,” he explained.

“What’s that? What do you mean by new antlers?” Peter was sitting up very straight, with his eyes fixed on Lightfoot’s antlers as though he never had seen them before.

“Just what I said,” repeated Lightfoot. “What do you think of them? I think they are the finest antlers I’ve ever had. When I get the rest of those rags off, they will be as handsome a set as ever was grown in the Green Forest.”

Lightfoot rubbed his antlers against the trunk of a tree until some of the rags hanging on them dropped off.

Peter blinked very hard. He was trying to understand the meaning of this and he couldn’t. Finally he said so.

“I do not understand. Do you mean to tell me that those are not the antlers that you have had as long as I’ve known you? How can anything hard like those antlers grow? This sounds impossible! And if those are new ones, where are the old ones? The idea of trying to make me believe that antlers grow just like plants! I’ve seen Bossy the Cow all summer and I know she has got the same horns she had last summer. New antlers indeed!”

“You are quite right, Peter, quite right about Bossy the Cow. She never has new horns, and yet that isn’t any reason why I shouldn’t have new antlers, is it?” replied Lightfoot patiently. “Her horns are quite different from my antlers. I have a new pair every year. You haven’t seen me all summer, have you, Peter?”

“No, I don’t remember that I have,” replied Peter, trying very hard to remember when he had last seen Lightfoot.

“I know you haven’t,” said Lightfoot. “I know it because I have been hiding in a place you never visit.”

“What have you been hiding for?” Peter asked with great curiosity.

“For my new antlers to grow,” replied Lightfoot. “When my new antlers are growing, I want to be away by myself. I don’t like to be seen without them or with half grown ones. Besides, I am very uncomfortable while the new antlers are growing and I want to be alone.”

Lightfoot spoke as if he really meant every word he said, and still Peter couldn’t believe that those wonderful great antlers had grown out of Lightfoot’s head in a single summer. “Where did you leave your old ones and when did they come off?” he asked.

“They dropped off last spring and I don’t remember just where,” replied Lightfoot. “I was too glad to be rid of them to notice where they dropped. You see they were loose and uncomfortable, and I hadn’t any more use for them because I knew that my new ones would be bigger and better. I’ve got one more point on each than I had last year.” Lightfoot began once more to rub his antlers against the tree to get off the odd rags hanging to them and to polish the points. Peter watched in silence for a few minutes. Then, with his curiosity returning, he said: “You still haven’t told me everything about those rags hanging on your antlers.”


One of Lightfoot’s antlers found left behind in the Green Forest.

It is hard to believe what seems impossible. And yet what seems impossible to you may be a very commonplace matter to some one else. Peter Rabbit wanted to believe what Lightfoot the Deer had just told him, and yet somehow he found it confusing. If he had seen those antlers growing, it would have been another matter. However, he had only seen Lightfoot in the winter, and then Lightfoot had worn just such handsome antlers as he now had. So Peter really couldn’t be blamed for not being able to believe that those old ones had been lost and in their place new ones had grown in just the few months of spring and summer.

“I’m trying to believe you,” Peter said, quite humbly.

“It’s all true,” broke in another voice.

Peter jumped and turned to find his big cousin, Jumper the Hare. Unseen and unheard, he had come up behind them and had overheard what Peter and Lightfoot had said.

“How do you know it is true?” Peter asked for confirmation.

“Because I saw Lightfoot’s old antlers after they had fallen off, and I often saw Lightfoot while his new ones were growing,” Jumper replied.

“All right! I’ll believe anything that Lightfoot tells me if you say it is true,” declared Peter, who greatly admires his cousin, Jumper. “Now Lightfoot, please tell me about those rags.”

Lightfoot couldn’t resist the “please.”

“Those rags are what is left of a kind of covering which protected the antlers while they were growing” he said. “Very soon after my old ones dropped off the new ones began to grow. They were not hard, not at all like they are now. They were soft and very tender, and the blood ran through them just as it does through our bodies. They were covered with a sort of skin with hairs on it like thin fur. The ends were not sharply pointed as they are now, rather they were big and rounded, like knobs. They were not like antlers at all, and they made my head hot and were very uncomfortable. That is why I hid away. They grew very fast, so fast that every day I could see by looking at my reflection in water that they were a little longer. It seemed to me sometimes as if all my strength went into those new antlers. And I had to be very careful not to hit them against anything. In the first place it would have hurt, and in the second place it might have spoiled the shape of them.

“When they had grown to the length you now see, they began to shrink and grow hard. The knobs on the ends shrank until they became pointed. As soon as they stopped growing the blood stopped flowing up in them, and as they became hard they were no longer tender. The skin which had covered them grew dry and split, and I rubbed it off on trees and bushes. The little rags you see are what is left, and I will soon be rid of those too. Then I shall be ready to defend myself if need be.”

Lightfoot tossed his head proudly and rattled his wonderful antlers against the nearest tree. “Isn’t he a sight to see,” whispered Peter to Jumper the Hare; “and did you ever hear of anything so wonderful as the growing of those new antlers in such a short time? Amazing.”

“It is,” replied Jumper, “and I tell you, Peter, I wouldn’t want to have Lightfoot try those antlers on me, beautiful as they are.”


This is the Green Forest where Lightfoot hides in the Spring & Summer and rubs his antlers on tree trunks to remove the ‘rag’ skin covering.

Capture your thoughts in your P.L.A.Y. Adventures nature journal!

  1. What is the difference between antlers and horns?
  2. Who has horns? Who has antlers?
  3. Have you seen deer near your home? Where are they often seen? What time of day is it?
  4. Have you seen a buck with antlers? How many points?
  5. What other signs could you look for to know a deer was nearby? Hint: What is scat?
  6. Try using a book like Scats and Tracks of the Northeast to clearly identify what you’ve discovered in the fields or forest!

P.L.A.Y. presents . . .

P.L.A.Y. has created more updated animal, bird, beaver, deer, and toad story adventures from the Thornton Burgess archives for you and your family.

ENJOY!!!

These tales are woven with fun facts and fiction featuring local four-legged and feathered friends in the fields and forests of New England.

Arriving January 2021!

Deer BOOK LOOK -Chapter 1- The Adventures of Lightfoot the Deer

Original 1921 story written by Thornton Burgess is now revised for the 21st century family.

– Chapter 1 –

How Lightfoot the Deer Learned to Jump


Peter Rabbit was filled with awe. It was this way from the very first time he saw Lightfoot the Deer leap over a fallen tree, and forever after, whenever he saw Lightfoot, he had a little of that same feeling stirred in his heart.

You see, Peter has always been very proud of his own powers of jumping. To be sure Jumper the Hare could jump higher and farther than he could, and Jumper is his own cousin, so it was all in the family, so to speak, and Peter didn’t mind. However, to see Lightfoot the Deer go sailing over the tops of the bushes and over the fallen trees as if he had springs in his legs was quite another matter.

“I wish I could jump like that,” said Peter out loud one day, as he stood with his hands on his hips watching Lightfoot leap over a pile of brush.

“Why don’t you learn to?” asked Jimmy Skunk with a mischievous twinkle in his eye which Peter couldn’t see. “Lightfoot couldn’t always jump like that; he had to learn. Why don’t you find out how? Probably Grandfather Frog knows all about it. He knows just about everything. If I were you, I’d ask him.”

“Oh I don’t know,” replied Peter. “I’ve asked him so many questions that I am afraid he’ll think me a nuisance. I tell you what, Jimmy, you ask him!” Peter’s eyes brightened as he said this.

Jimmy chuckled. “If there is anything you want to know from Grandfather Frog, you really need to ask him yourself. That really is the best way to understand. Truthfully, I don’t want to know how Lightfoot learned to jump or if he can jump over the moon, if you please. I have other important matters on my mind. Have you seen any fat beetles this morning, Peter?”

“Actually no,” replied Peter. “I’m not really interested in fat beetles so I’ve not noticed.”

Jimmy laughed. It was a good-natured, chuckling kind of a laugh. “Well, here’s hoping that you learn how to jump like Lightfoot the Deer and that I get a stomach full of fat beetles.”

And with that Jimmy Skunk slowly ambled along down the Crooked Little Path.

Peter watched him out of sight, sighed, and started for the dear Old Briar-patch, stopped, sighed again, and then headed straight for the Smiling Pool. Grandfather Frog was there on his big green lily pad, and Peter wasted no time.


Grandfather Frog’s lily pad pond

“Grandfather Frog, how did Lightfoot the Deer learn to jump so splendidly?” he blurted out almost before he had stopped running.

Grandfather Frog blinked his great googly eyes. “Chug-a-rum!” he said. “If you’ll join me by jumping across the Laughing Brook over there where it comes into the Smiling Pool, I’ll tell you.”

Peter looked at the Laughing Brook in dismay. It was quite wide at that point. “I don’t think I can,” he said with hesitation.

“Then I won’t be able to tell you how Lightfoot learned to jump unless you join me,” replied Grandfather Frog, quite as if the matter were settled.

“OK, I’ll try!” Peter hastened to blurt out.

“All right. While you are trying, I’ll see if I can remember the story,” replied Grandfather Frog.

Peter went back a little so as to get a good start. Then he ran as hard as he knew how, and when he reached the bank of the Laughing Brook, he jumped with all his might. It was a good jump—a splendid jump—although it wasn’t quite enough of a jump, and Peter landed with a great splash in the water!

Now Peter does not like the water, and though he can swim, he doesn’t feel at all at home in it. He paddled for the shore as fast as he could, and just before his feet touched bottom, he heard the great, deep voice of Grandfather Frog.

“That is just the way Lightfoot the Deer learned to jump—trying to do what he thought he couldn’t do and keeping at it until he could. It all happened a great while ago when the world was young.”

Peter shook himself off and layed down in the sunniest spot he could find to dry out and still be within hearing distance to listen to Grandfather Frog’s story.

“Lightfoot’s great-great-ever-so-great-grandfather was named Lightfoot the Deer too,” continued Grandfather Frog in his best story-telling voice.

“He had slim legs just like Lightfoot has now and just such wonderful, branching antlers. When he was in the season where he had a rack of antlers, he was not much afraid of anybody. Those enemies swift enough of foot to catch him he could successfully fight with his antlers, and those too big and strong for him to fight were not swift enough to catch him. However, there was a season in every year when he had no antlers, as is the case with Lightfoot. Every spring Lightfoot loses his antlers and through the summer a new pair grows. It was so with Old Mr. Deer of that long-ago time, and when he lost those great antlers, he felt very helpless and timid.”


Open meadow where Old Mr. Deer of long ago use to run along the edge of the Green Forest.

“Old Mr. Deer loved the open meadows and spent most of his time there. When he had to run, he wanted nothing in the way of his slim legs. And how he could run! My, my, my, how he could run! However, there were others who could run swiftly in those days too, Mr. Wolf and Mr. Dog. Mr. Deer always had a feeling that someday one or the other would catch him. When he had his antlers, this thought didn’t worry him much, and yet when he lost his antlers, it worried him a great deal. He felt perfectly helpless then. ‘The thing for me to do is to keep out of sight,’ he said to himself, and so instead of going out on the meadows and in the open places, he hid among the bushes and in the brush on the edge of the Green Forest and behind the fallen trees in the Green Forest.”

“One thing did trouble Old Mr. Deer, who wasn’t old at that time, you know. He couldn’t run fast at all among the bushes and the fallen trees and the old logs. This was a new worry, and it troubled him almost as much as the old worry. He felt that he was in a dreadful fix. You see, hard times had come, and the big and strong were preying on the weak and small in order to live.”

” ‘If I stay out on the meadows, I cannot fight if I am caught; and if I stay here, I cannot run fast if I am found. Oh, dear! Oh, dear! What shall I do?’ cried Old Mr. Deer, as he lay hidden among the branches of a fallen hemlock-tree.”

“Just at that very minute along came Mr. Hare, the great-great-ever-so-great-grandfather of your cousin Jumper. A big log was in his path, and he jumped over it as lightly as a feather. Old Mr. Deer watched him and sighed. If only he could jump like that in proportion to his size, he would just jump over the bushes and the fallen logs and the fallen trees instead of trying to run around them or squeeze between them.”

“And then he had an idea. Why shouldn’t he learn to jump? He could try, anyway. So when he was sure that no one was around to see him, he practiced jumping over little low bushes. At first he couldn’t do much, so he kept trying and trying, and little by little he jumped higher. It was hard work, and he scraped his slim legs many times when he tried to jump over old logs and stumps.”

“Now all this time some one actually had been watching him, though he didn’t know it. It was Old Mother Nature. One day she stopped him as he was trotting along a path. ‘What is this you are doing when you think no one is watching?’ she asked curiously. ‘I’ve given you beauty and speed, what more do you need?’ Old Mr. Deer explained to Mother Nature why he wanted to learn to jump. Mother Nature heard him through. ‘Let me see you jump over that bush,’ she said pointing to a bush almost as high as Old Mr. Deer himself.

” ‘Oh, I can’t jump nearly as high as that!’ he cried. Then tossing his head proudly, he added, ‘Although I’ll give it a try.’ So just as Peter Rabbit tried to jump the Laughing Brook when he felt sure that he couldn’t, Old Mr. Deer tried to jump the bush. Just imagine how surprised he was when he sailed over it without even touching the top of it with his hooves! Mother Nature had given him in that moment the gift of jumping as a reward for his perseverance and because she saw that he really had need of it.”

“So ever since that long-ago day, the Deer have lived where the brush is thickest and the Green Forest most tangled, because they are such great jumpers that they can travel faster there.”

“Now, Peter, what do you think of that tale?”

“I think I would you like to try to jump over the Laughing Brook again!” said Peter.

And off he went lipperty-lipperty-SPLASH!

The Laughing Brook . . . lipperty-lipperty-SPLASH!
  1. What other animals of the fields and forest come to mind when you think of great jumpers?
  2. When you go outdoors test your own jumping skills by finding snow or mud and see how far you can leap and measure the distance between your footprints. Or make a mark in the sand or lay down a rope to stand on top of and then jump forward and have a family member measure the distance between. How far did you go? Can you jump further with practice just like Lightfoot and his relatives?
  3. Visit your favorite local forest and try out your new jumping skills to get across a small stream or to go over a log just like a deer. Perhaps come up with a sing-song rhyme that helps get you over every time! Or say with each footstep and then leap “1-2-3 look at me-e-e-e-e-e-e!”
  4. Can you capture what this jumping feels like in your P.L.A.Y. Adventures nature journal? What colors or shapes or words describe it best? Interview your family and ask what their experience feels like too!
  5. If you find deer tracks in the snow look for where they sometimes leap and measure it with your own foot steps (one boot toe to heel in front of the other) and then measure your foot in inches/centimeters when you get home to see how far the deer jumped.
Deer tracks in the snow

P.L.A.Y. presents . . .

P.L.A.Y. has created more updated animal, bird, beaver, deer, and toad story adventures from the Thornton Burgess archives for you and your family.

ENJOY!!!

These tales are woven with fun facts and fiction featuring local four-legged and feathered friends in the fields and forests of New England.

Arriving January 2021!