Al Cambronne

The website of photographer and author Al Cambronne

The Million-Dollar Hoofprint

million-dollar hoofprint © Al Cambronne

When it comes to the role of deer in American culture, the intersection of deer and real estate is about far more than just hunting. 

As I wrote in DEERLAND, it’s not only hunters who want to see more deer.  All the rest of us do, too.  Deer are somehow magical.  They’re not just deer; they’ve come to mean something more.  In our collective imaginations, they’ve become an archetypal symbol of the wilderness experience—or at least of a gentrified country experience.

One measure of this is the number of upscale suburban housing developments named after deer.  A moment ago I searched for “deer estates,” and in 0.64 seconds Google returned “about” 20,900,000 hits.  They included just plain “Deer Estates,” but also every conceivable variation—Deer Run Estates, Running Deer Estates, Dixie Deer Estates, Brown Deer Estates, Deer River Estates, Deer Creek Estates, Deer Path Estates, Deer Point Estates, Deer Pointe Estates, Deer Lake Estates, Deer Hill Estates, Deer Creek Ranch Estates, Estates at Deer Hollow, Deer Wood Estates, Deer Run Mobile Home Estates, and more.

And those are just the developments with “Estates” in their name.  There’s also Deer Valley, Deer Run, Deer Path, Running Deer Trail, Deer Creek, Deer Park, Deer Ridge, Deer Lake, Deer View, Deer Run Terrace, and—well, you get the idea.  The marketers who cook up these names are selling the dream of deer, but also the dream of what deer signify.  They know we’ll happily commute farther and borrow more so we can live in places that somehow feel just a little wilder.

And since my wife is a Realtor, I’ve learned a lot about how deer, or even just the idea of deer, can help sell real estate far beyond the suburbs—including here in northern Wisconsin.  Here’s an example: The hoofprint at the top of this post was on a trail meandering through twelve acres of land beside a lake home that Jean just listed near Minong, Wisconsin.  Now, that hoofprint isn’t what will sell the place.  It’s a beautiful home, inside and out.  It also has an incredible view.  That’s what the new owners will be buying.  They’ll tell friends back down in the city about their million-dollar view, not their million-dollar hoofprint.

And yet….

It’s also nice to have a little privacy up at the lake.  A little extra elbow room.  And to live in a place that really feels like it’s up north, not just out at the edge of the city.  And to walk your own land every morning without seeing the footprint of another human—only the fresh hoofprints of deer.  So in some very small, subtle, and indirect way, that hoofprint does add to the home’s value.  OK, maybe not by a million dollars.  Still, enough hoofprints in enough back yards, and they start to add up.

But who’s counting?  After all….  Some things can’t be counted or measured.  And some hoofprints are priceless.

And now a word from our sponsor…  If you know of anyone looking for a northern Wisconsin lake home like this one, tell them to click here.  For Jean’s Northwest Wisconsin Real Estate blog, click here.

Meanwhile. . . .   If you’ve seen enough hoofprints, and would like to see the actual house and its view of the lake, keep scrolling down.

© 2016 Al Cambronne

Gilmore Lake Cabin © Al Cambronne

gilmore lake interior 11 © Al Cambronne

Gilmore Cabin 2 © Al Cambronne

Gilmore Lake Reflections © Al Cambronne


  1. Al, I think the suburbanites love ’em until they begin eating their ornamental shrubbery! Maybe your wife could include a list of deer-resistant trees and flowers in the transaction.

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