The Deer Man (Alissa Grosso)

Let me first state, that I'm not afraid of deer. They're sweet, gentle creatures, who other than interfering with some gardening efforts, have never given me any trouble. I'm a little bit nervous about their habit of darting out in front of my vehicle when I'm driving on dark country roads at night and I could do without those awful ticks they carry, but deer themselves are not something that frighten me. That's what makes a recurring nightmare I had as a child, all the more perplexing.

Some sweet, non-scary deer.

When I was a kid, my grandmother owned a vacation home in the Poconos and my family would spend the occasional long weekend there or even spend a few weeks there during the summer, especially at those times when we happened to be between homes.

It was a fun place for a kid to visit, where we could spend hours wandering the woods and picking huckleberries, swing on the rope swing in the driveway, play wiffle ball in the quiet cul de sac where the house was located, ride bikes along peaceful wooded roads or have our parents take us to one of the community's pools or the lake. Deer used to eat corn out of our hands. If you were especially patient a chickadee would land in your hand to nibble the bird seed there. Even during those cold and snowy Poconos winters we would get bundled up and go for exhilarating toboggan rides. Naturally, I looked forward to trips up the Poconos.

The Hemlock Farms beach the site of lots of non-scary memories, except for that time we got stuck in the middle of the lake on an inflatable boat.

However, there was one thing I did not look forward to. The Deer Man. This monstrous creature haunted my dreams, nightmares that I only seemed to have when sleeping at Grandma's Poconos house. It wasn't as if every time I went to sleep at that house I was visited by that scary creature, but he was a frequent visitor to my dreams.

To describe him now, he seems a bit comical. He was basically an antlered buck deer who walked around on two legs like a man. Hence, my name for him, The Deer Man. I can still recall the sight of this tall imposing creature as he loomed in shadowy darkness outside the side door of my grandmother's house. In real life we used to keep a cat litter box next to that door for those times when my grandmother's or my great aunt's cats were visiting the house and The Deer Man would routinely trip on the litter box as he entered the house and came for me.

An artist on Etsy created this image of a Deer Man who looks like a more proper, better dressed version of the monster who  haunted my dreams.

The nightmares usually played out the same with the fearsome Deer Man chasing me through the house or around the yard. They were not very elaborate, and as far as I can recall I always succeeded in getting away or at least waking up before The Deer Man could catch me.

As with most scary things, I was not inclined to talk about my nightmares with anyone. I think I might have protested about having to sleep in the one downstairs bedroom that always seemed extra creepy. It probably didn't help that this room also housed the hatch that went down to the dark and scary crawl space. Thankfully the house was a vacation home filled with all sorts of sleeping spots including a much less scary pull out sofa in the family room. Anyway, my silence on all things Deer Man, makes what happened some years later all the more creepy.

I was in high school, when my grandmother decided to put the Poconos house up for sale. It was no longer getting used as much as it once had and had become a financial burden. One weekend we went up there as a family to help clean the place up, and while packing up a box with stuff I happened to mention something to my sister about how I used to have these nightmares about a creature I called The Deer Man.

My sister was surprised and a bit confused. She said she used to have nightmares about a Deer Man, a scary upright walking buck deer who dressed in L.L. Bean style clothing and chased after her. We compared notes on our own versions of this monster. Other than a few differences: the clothing, the fact that hers usually carried a hunting rifle, the creatures were pretty much identical, and as far as we can remember we had never discussed these nightmares with each other or anyone else when we were kids. What's more, we only ever had Deer Man nightmares while sleeping overnight at that house. Freaky.

I don't have an explanation for what inspired these nightmares. Could there haven been some scary book or movie that we somehow absorbed into our self conscious? Was there some bad spirit haunting the house? Perhaps a deer had been killed by a hunter on the ground where the house was built and came back to torment the sleep of young girls. Maybe it was just some weird, but frightening coincidence.


  1. I think you've got the jumping-off point for a book here ...

    1. I might give myself nightmares trying to write it!

  2. Okay, this entire post gave me the creeps. I agree with Jenn Hubbard. You must explore the book possibilities here...

    1. I might have to do that Jody. But this is one book I think I'll stick to writing in the daytime.

  3. Du-Du Du-Du...
    Nice tale for the campfire Alissa :)
    Coincidence? I think not...

  4. Totally agree! You need to write this book...


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