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Deer

Last Updated: 2/20/17

"Missing plant? I didn't do it!" A doe who was eating leftover squirrel food I dumped out by the pool on 8/18/07. I was outside with her and maybe 15 feet from her.

Deer and Ponds
Dealing with Deer Eating Plants
Our Deer
Photos and Videos of Our Deer
Deer Links


Deer and Ponds

Two fawns (one is partially hidden on the left) by my 1800 gallon pond on 7/18/02.

We have about a dozen year-round deer on our five acres. At times, we are frustrated because they get into all sorts of trouble including eating all our favorite plants, flowers, and "deer-proof" plants, leaving hoof prints in the mulched beds, and standing in the ponds. The only way we have found that works to keep them off plants is to physically cage them with circular cages of dog fence or chicken wire. The deer have yet to puncture any of the pond liners. This is the major pond-related concern about deer. My large pond has pea gravel in the shallows to dissipate the weight if a deer steps in there. In areas with many deer, it is a good idea to either cover the liner with gravel or dirt or to perhaps use an extra strong liner.

One doe I named My Girl follows me around and eats the extra turkey food. Her yearling son and daughter and new fawns come as well. I can recognize at least half a dozen individual deer and tell you about them. Most of the time, the deer (yes, even bucks who could gore me) and I ignore each other since we are so comfortable with each other. I can get within 3-5 feet no problem. The deer are very sweet and have individual personalities. They eat everything. Nonetheless, I love the deer. If you cannot guess, I vehemently oppose lethal methods to control their overpopulation. It is not their fault that their natural predators (wolves, mountain lions, black bears, etc.) were obliterated. They just want to eat like the rest of us.

For a funny deer story, see my pond stories page.


Dealing with Deer Eating Plants

I will write this section later on how to protect gardens from deer and maybe add some lists of plants our deer like and do not like to eat. We have a lot of deer so it is harder for our plants to survive. I have found that the deer will eat or try most any plant. Fawns will pluck flowers off of daffodils but aside from that, daffodils, lavender, invasive weed grass we do not want, catmint, and catnip are the only plants we have that the deer do not eat (that I can think of at this exact moment!). The following plants were supposed to be deer proof but the deer eat them for sure: forsythia, inkberry holly, peonies, holly, and many more. Most of our small trees, shrubs, and some perennials are now protected with vinyl-coated dog fencing made into cages and anchored into the ground with sod staples which are metal u-shaped things. Favorite deer foods include tulips and azaleas but they will basically eat anything. The rare tree that makes it into a larger seedling then has to deal with the bucks rubbing their antlers up and down it. With our plants, we basically leave them in cages forever so the plants are all stunted. Our original forest (that grew up back when there were fewer deer) is now (2007) 30 years old and has trees that are large and adult. It is the understory that does not really exist except for some invasive, non-native species. If they were removed (yeah, like I have the time!), there would be nothing but mud..

Daffodils in flower on 3/29/07, far away, also the swing in the back yard. Notice how the deer pruned the Leyland cypress (the evergreen in the front that looks so much heavier on top). The daffodils are the only plant the deer do not eat. But, some animals do sometimes cut off the flowers to taste test them! It may be the deer or squirrels.


Our Deer

We do not own or contain any deer but they sometimes act like our pets. One doe in particular (named My Girl) follows me around and eats the extra turkey food. Her son grew to trust me enough to get within four feet of him in 1998. He drank from the bird bath and ate left over turkey food. His antlers were about 8 inches high, and I hoped our hunting neighbors did not shoot him because he had not been sighted since 11/98! The deer are very sweet. On the other side, they eat virtually everything that we plant. I have put one inch chicken wire cages around all small plants. The garden was eaten completely in 1997 and 1998 due to the drought. In 1999, they ate the tomatoes which we planted near the house. In 2001, our land looked like we are crazy with cages and nets all over everything! They learned how to remove them to eat (wait until it is very wet and knock them over)! Nonetheless, I love the deer.

Update 1/4/07: We still have many deer, mostly all does. Bucks do not last long. Some five years ago or so, the idiotic neighbor took in and raised a fawn. The mother probably would have come back but this guy took him. It was illegal for him to have the deer but what was done was done, and I had no say in it. Anyway, when he was a few months old, he started to come visit me. He wanted food but would also nuzzle me. When he started jumping onto me, I started to worry how I would deal with his growing antlers. If I wanted to garden, he would jump on my back. He was not trying to hurt me, just wanted food or to play. I need not have worried because before he was a year old, he simply vanished, most likely killed by one of the many deer killers surrounding us. So, this was the one time I got to pet a live deer. We have a lot of dead deer (a few a year) that were shot or died of something else. I do not pet them! The vultures come down and pick them clean without about three days!

The girls are very smart. They know my parents and I. If we are outside, they pretty much ignore us but will normally slowly walk away. If we catch them eating our plants, I can jump up and down and scream, and they usually ignore me until I run after them. I have now replaced most of the cages over the small trees, bushes, and a few perennials with vinyl-coated dog fencing made into cages. But, if strangers visit, they have to ask, "So, where are the deer?" They have usually vanished because they know they do not know these people or their vehicles even.

Deer are very affectionate. I cannot tell you how many hundreds of times that I have watched them groom each other. I swear they love each other. They love to eat though, and will throttle each other with their front hooves if another deer tries to get their food when they really want it. Does will also throttle their older fawns (who they want weaned) who try to nurse or pester them. I have seen young bucks clashing, locking antlers and pushing on each other. I saw a male fawn less than a year old mount his own mother once, probably four feet from me. Of course, my rooster mates with his mother multiple times a day since they have no comprehension of incest. In the late fall, I have seen females running like they are insane, mouths panting, going at full speed with no one following. But, sometimes they are being followed, by the buck who only has one thing in mind! I have also seen solitary deer run followed a few minutes later by a fox hound. They do fox hunts in the field near us and sometimes leave a fox hound behind. They run around baying and chasing deer.

There are additional deer stories on my pond stories page and in my pond newsletters for October and November 2001.


Photos of Our Deer

A newborn (probably less than 12 hours old) fawn I found in our woods on 5/26/03.

Photos are from oldest to newest.

Here are two photos taken on 7/18/02 of some twin fawns.
Fawns by my 1800 gallon pond
Fawns by a Chinese chestnut tree

A deer feeding herself from the bird's feeder on 1/31/04.

A buck out back on 1/9/05.

I took a bunch of photos of our woods and some with the deer on 1/6/07. The trees are dormant but some of the photos may be of interest. The front of our land is the south end.
Woods - out front right, notice the grape vines.
Woods - out front left.
Woods with deer - out front left.
Woods with deer - out front left.
Woods - out back left.

Deer - 2333 KB, mpg movie.
On 7/14/07 at 4:20 pm, while I was cleaning fish tanks in the laundry room, one of our does and her two fawns were eating grass outside the window so I decided to take a photo and then I did a short video. Both were done from inside. At the end of the video, I pan to the left quickly so you can see the pool which is twenty years old and ready to fall apart. The deer were just a few feet from the house which is typical here.
Here is the photo taken right before the video.

These two photos are from 7/14/07 as well are of a different doe who was sleeping against the front of the house between the brick and some 30-year-old bushes. The fence you see is to keep the deer off of a small flower garden.
Doe - from a distance, can you see her?
Doe - close-up

Doe on 8/18/07.

Buck and Doe on 9/8/07. These two were resting behind the chicken pen. The doe is still sitting down. Both their eyes reflected the flash.

Doe - this doe with a broken jaw (the bottom is offset from the top) likes to hang around the back porch for handouts. Here she is on 11/17/08 right next to the porch after I caught her putting her feet on the porch.

The morning of 2/7/09, a doe walked on to the pool deck and then out on to the frozen pool cover. I was afraid she would try to jump down the three feet to the ground but she went out the way she came in.
Deer on the pool
Deer on the pool - close-up of the last photo

These photos are from 8/19/09:
Four does - two are running away
Close-up of one doe - from the previous photo

I was outside taking photos on 10/18/09 when this doe I call Brokey Jaw (due to her offset bottom jaw) was hanging around. I took a few photos and then did a video. She decided she wanted a close up all on her own and almost touched the camera.
Doe - side view
Doe - front view
Deer - 2025 KB, mpg movie.

Buck on 11/20/09.

Deer Bed on 1/31/10. This is one of many spots where the deer bedded down for the small snow (I say small because although it was half a foot, we got two two foot snow storms the next week). The deer is gone but it leaves a dry, snow-free spot.

Doe - a few feet down the path, and I saw this doe on the neighbor's property so I took her photo. It is a picturesque portrait in the snow, 1/31/10.

Fawn on 8/16/10.

Deer photos from 11/18/10:
Brokey Jaw - this old doe not only has a broken jaw from a gun shot wound, now she has a swollen knee from one too. She is such a sweet girl. I wish the people who did that to her would suffer the same.
Buck - the males only show up for a few weeks this time of the year.

These photos are from 5/5/11:
Five deer
Doe - the deer I call "My Girl"

These photos from 5/21/11 are of My Girl showing off her various facial expressions.
Doe
Doe
Doe

Doe on 4/27/14.

This link will bring you to a Youtube video of some of my deer on 7/7/16. The mother was shot in the front left leg, and you can see her at the beginning of the video in the back left of the property. Her two fawns, about a month old were running all around. At the end of the video, you can see a buck, probably two years old, and maybe her son as well. He ws busy eating weeds (and probably some of my plants). The fawns are so full of life.
Deer playing

Deer in the snow on 3/4/16.


Deer Links

I will add some of these later when I work on the animals directory.


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