Friday, November 11, 2016

A Wildlife Drive – Cade’s Cove and Elsewhere

When Laurie’s sister Bonnie and her husband Bill were visiting us in October, Bonnie had asked that we drive out to the Smoky Mountains National Park.  Bill had never been there before and she wanted him to see the scenery with the valley, mountains and wildlife…

So off we went… It was a Thursday and the fall colors were just beginning to show themselves so we had a chance to avoid the usual fall crowds and traffic jams on the Cades Cove loop drive… It was cloudy when we first arrived but we had sunshine soon after.

The first animal we spotted wasn’t all that wild…although we do like horses and watching them in action!

This was the rest of the group.  Trail rides are available in Cades Cove in season, and this is the first time we’ve seen a group out in a field.  Our other trail ride encounters have all been in the wooded areas.

Cades Cove is a beautiful place!  The scenery is both restful and spectacular. 
On our way into the park, an electronic sign was in place warning us that the drive around the loop could take as long as 2 hours.  As it turned out, traffic wasn’t a problem and with a few stops along the way, we only spent an hour on the drive…

Hold on!!  I see some wildlife!  In fact, this crow and a couple of his cronies were the only wildlife we saw on our drive… No deer, no bears and no turkey.  We’ve made this drive at least a dozen times and this is only the second time we’ve struck out when it comes to seeing some of nature’s wild creatures.


·       The Great Smoky Mountains National Park is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.  It straddles the ridgeline of the Great Smoky Mountains and part of the Blue Ridge Mountains.

·       The Park was officially dedicated by President Franklin Delano Roosevelt in 1940.  It encompasses 522,419 acres or a little over 816 square miles of land.   The state of Rhode Island only covers 1,212 square miles.  The park is two-thirds the size of that state.

To learn more about The Great Smoky Mountains National Park, you can go to or

Despite our lack of wildlife, Bill did enjoy the drive and the scenery. 
Before the formation of the Smoky Mountain National Park, this valley was home to numerous settlers.  Today Cades Cove is the single most popular destination in the park, attracting more than 2,000,000 visitors a year.  A number of well-preserved homesteads, churches and other structures are all part of the attraction. 


·       The Cades Cove Historic District is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

The first settlers in Cades Cove arrived in 1818.  In 1821, "Fighting Billy" Tipton, an American Revolution veteran, bought up large tracts of Cades Cove which he in turn sold to his sons and relatives.  Between 1820 and 1850, the population of Cades Cove grew to 671, with the size of the farms averaging between 150 and 300 acres.

During the Civil War Cades Cove remained staunchly pro-Union, regardless of the attacks and destruction it incurred by Confederate raiders from North Carolina.   The raiders systematically stole livestock and killed any Union supporter that they could find.  It was finally stopped when the residents of the Cove organized their own militia and they ambushed a Confederate raiding party. 

Of all the Smoky Mountain communities, Cades Cove put up the most resistance to the formation of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. The cove residents were initially assured their land wouldn’t be included in the park, and they welcomed its formation.  However, in 1927, the Tennessee General Assembly passed a bill approving money to buy land for the national park and it gave the Park Commission the power to seize properties within the proposed park boundaries by eminent domain.  The last family abandoned their farm in 1937 but the Primitive Baptist Church congregation continued to meet in the Cove until the 1960s.

·       The right of eminent domain, (government seizure of land at the expense of a few to benefit the majority), has played a huge part in East Tennessee history.  In addition to the Smoky Mountains National Park, the dams and lakes formed by the Tennessee Valley Authority, and the massive land seizure of the 17 mile long valley needed for the Oak Ridge Labs/Manhattan Project during WWII. 

To learn more about Cade’s Cove and its history, just go to

Since we hadn’t seen any deer or other wildlife, Bonnie asked us to drive them through a local development along Tellico Lake, that is ‘famous’ or ‘infamous’ depending on your viewpoint, for its herds of deer…

We’d no sooner entered the area when we spotted our first deer.  They checked us out but they didn’t run off…

What?  What do you want?!  We’re just trying get a little dinner before the sun goes down…

Deer were everywhere… If I lived here, I’d forget flowers and the usual landscaping and just go for plants, shrubs and trees that deer don’t particularly like to eat. 

You can see why folks like to live here… Great views of the lake and mountains are plentiful with Tellico Lake on 3 sides of the area and the Smoky Mountains in the distance.  Of course it was early evening around sunset when we made this drive.  It’s the best time to see deer!

This doe posed for us in someone’s front yard.
White-tailed deer is a medium-sized deer native to the United States, Canada, Mexico, Central America, and South America as far south as Peru and Bolivia.  It has also been introduced to New Zealand, Cuba, Jamaica, Hispaniola, Puerto Rico, Bahamas, Lesser Antilles, and some countries in Europe, such as Finland, the Czech Republic, and Serbia. 

This handsome little buck struck a pose for us!  It’s almost that time of the year for him to seek out a few of the ladies for mating…

We definitely accomplished one goal… Bonnie and Bill saw plenty of deer!


·       It’s estimated that there were only 300,000 deer in the USA back in 1930.  New farming methods and the clearing of forests for crops have contributed to a massive increase in the USA’s deer population.  In 2005, it was estimated to be 30,000,000…100 times greater than in 1930!

That’s about it for now.  Just click on any of the photos to enlarge them…

Thanks for coming along with us on our efforts to spot a little wildlife!

Take Care, Big Daddy Dave


  1. I'm amazed at how well the deer have become urbanized.

  2. How beautiful, Dave! And it looks as if not only the doe posed for you...I think the crow did as well. :) Thank you so much for sharing this beautiful series!