We can always tell when someone’s hunting by the river. Long before the first thundering booms waft from the woods, the deer emerge. They commute up the trails and congregate in our pasture or the neighbor’s.

I’m no deer expert but from what I’ve seen, deer prefer to loiter in the woods. In an open field they glide across, snatching a bite or two before moving on. Rarely do they park.

But when someone’s hunting, that’s exactly what they do. They remind me of kids clustered around home base in a game of tag. Apparently the deer have identified the demilitarized zone.

Eventually they choose a direction and depart single file, with a graceful bounding stride over the fence.

About a month ago I spied this piebald, daunted by the neighbor’s fence. She wasn’t injured but lacked natural athleticism.

According to one website, piebald (oddly enough, not called skewbald) is a genetic condition affecting less than 1 percent of the white deer population. With it comes other possible defects like short legs or an arched spine. Clearly “Spotty” is afflicted with some abnormality because she balked at the fence line.

She remained trapped in there alone for 20 minutes, utterly vexed by the fencing. But eventually — spurred by fear from the sounds of a gleeful, shrieking kid — ¬†she frantically squeezed between a wider fence board and bound away with her awkward short stride.

Since then my neighbor Liz has spotted her and snapped much better photos. Spotty’s markings are pretty cool and we’ll probably see her again if she steers clear of the road. She successfully dodged Maryland’s 2011-2012 hunting season.

pix by Liz Zander