Wednesday, August 11, 2010

"Oh De'ah!" White Tailed Deer And Fawns

     A couple of weeks ago, my neighbor reported seeing this pair of White Tailed Deer fawns and the doe in attendance along our driveway. Then my husband came home several times saying he'd seen them, too. This really irked me. The deer have been in our yard when no one has been looking and chewed up my hostas and the rhododendrons along the driveway have been skeletonized. As much as I know that they have to eat too, I regard deer as cloven hoofed rats. My dog doesn't care what they are doing and is of no service, neither keeping them out, nor letting me know if they are around. I think the deer and the dog actually have some secret agreement that I don't know about. It would be something like "If you don't make me get up from my nap, I'll let you eat whatever you want to. Go ahead, just don't bother me." I can kind of understand that as a woman who has raised children into adulthood.
     I've thought, at least if they are going to use my landscape as a salad bar, I should be able to take some great photos. Every day, I had the camera in the passenger's seat of the car, set with the correct exposure and the windows, rolled down. Nothing. Day after day my neighbor and husband would query, "Did you see them? Did you get them? They were just right there!" I was getting more irritated by the day.
     We recently watched a Discovery Show program "Moose Attack!" It showed videos and eye witness accounts of when moose that have wandered into urban areas became very dangerous. The program stated that moose don't stalk humans, but are very dangerous when they feel cornered or threatened. They will charge under those circumstances. Moose at their most dangerous are either males in rut or females with calves. Eighty-six percent of all calves die, so the mother moose has an enormous stake in protecting them. The film showed moose in postures clearly indicating that the beast felt threatened and was ready to attack. For example, the moose looked directly at the person, lowered its ears, pawed the ground, puffed up its chest and charged full on. The cautionary statement was, "If you see a moose do this, get the hell out of the way." I thought, "Well, duh! How stupid could anybody be? Anybody who didn't see the goring they got from those seven foot, fifty pound antlers had it coming."
     Then, yesterday I finally saw the phantom doe and fawns on my way out of our driveway. Suddenly, they were no longer the cloven hoofed rat menaces, but the most adorable, lovely thing you could ever want to see. And how could a person look at a face like that and shoot it? Or impale it with a tranquilizer gun or let their dog chase it or anything terrible? Huh? How could you? Watching them munch away blissfully on a prized azalea, I thought, "Oh you poor dear little creature! How will you ever get through the winter on those delicate legs? Maybe I'll get some corn or grain while I'm out and.................." Then, the mother appeared.

     I saw her before she saw me. Her head was partially obscured by branches. To see more of her, I crouched down in the middle of the driveway. When I did, she saw more of me, too - she did not like what she saw. When she perked her ears up I expected that she would turn and run. However, I was now between her and her fawns. She rose up in alert, then bent down to the ground. She pawed the ground three times with her left front hoof. She snorted and pawed again low to the ground, staring at me. Quickly making note of my own precarious position, I saw that she was in confrontation mode. I thought, "Oh crap! Moose Attack!" I could imagine the videos on the Internet of me, the middle aged woman who had been gored by an irate deer. "How stupid could she have been," viewers would ask. I could not move quickly unless I rolled, tricky to do with the camera, a long lens and a fat butt. The last time I had employed that maneuver was when I was doing barbed wire drills at Quanitco. I was a little rusty and not confident that I could protect my weapon, so I stood up. "Take it like a man!" I thought. When I stood, the doe spun on her heels, snorted again - as did each of the fawns, then off they tore through the woods. Another narrow escape from a wildlife photography catastrophe averted, I got in the car and went to Weed For Dollars.
She may be pretty, but she's a killer. Daily, deer must consume 500 times their own body weight in hostas and rhododendrons. Or so it seems.
This is a YouTube video of a moose that wandered into a building in Camden, Maine. It was part of the Moose Attack! program. 

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  1. They are cute! Beautiful photos Robin!

    I've never heard of a doe charging a person, but bucks will. My brother is a hunter in PA and was in the woods during rut preparing a spot for the first day of deer season about 2 weeks before the season started. He saw several buck looking for a fight with each other and tucked himself behind a tree to watch. After a while, they left and he headed down the mountain to his truck. Suddenly, an 8-point buck charged out of the middle of nowhere right at him. He dove behind a large fallen tree and the buck just missed goring him, sailing over the top of where he dove to.

    The buck turned and came back at him, but couldn't get to him because he was under the tree. After awhile, the buck gave up and Steve was none the worse for wear.

    There are quite a few documented cases of bucks goring humans for some reason or another, mostly during the rut.

    I watched the same show you did. Some people are simply idiots!


  2. I don't know which is scarier...a 700 pound moose or having to eat 500 times your own body weight! Beautiful photos and a most enjoyable blog.

  3. Thank you, HG.
    At least it's not ME eating 500 times my own body weight!!!!

  4. Your posts are so funny :-) They really make me smile when I read them. That fawn is so adorable, I would let it eat anything it wanted....but then my garden tends to look like something chews on it all the time (actually I'm just a lousy gardener). Love the moose video!

  5. Thanks Robin. Glad you escaped disaster... doe attack! The fawns are truly wondrously beautiful. And thanks for the Moose Attack clip.

  6. Your deer pictures are awesome. I took some of a doe and fawn on the creek behind our house a couple days ago, and the flies were bothering them so badly. Neither of them saw me which I consider a rare happening. So far none of my plants have suffered-yet-.
    A great blog you have.Stop by mine if you have a minute.

  7. Thanks you guys! You all make me feel like it's worthwhile to continue to put myself at grave risk to capture these images and write about them!

  8. Great pictures again! We have deer come into our backyard all the time. This summer, we've had what seem to be at least three separate families visit at different times of the day, several days a week. Hostas never survive (tulips are no longer planted), though they've not hit our rhodododos. If I may be so bold, I offer you this post of mine from last year, which you might enjoy:
    August 14, 2010 05:42 PM

  9. Thank you, afinephoto! They are cute, indeed.