Thursday, April 2, 2009

Deerless and Down

I am not seeing my deer herd much as the tasty spring chutes lure them away from my reliable shell corn. I know... each season demands a change in their eating patterns and they are supposedly like cows, with several stomach chambers. Previously I would get upwards of 25 or so feeding each evening like clockwork. I miss standing quietly in the midst of these beautiful creatures while they jockey for position around the 20 plus corn piles. I could then easily check to make sure they remained healthy.

It continues to be a challenge to memorize their unique physical qualities especially as the seasons change. Dusk really poses a problem. Many times it will be their specific movements that tell me who is who. Deer are not like horses, cats and dogs. Deer coats change color twice a year. They are golden brown like peanut butter in early summer and turn tree bark brown come late fall. The fawns' faces grow older as they become teenagers. The young ones are going through a growth spurt. They look awful with shaggy coats and bony bodies. The yearling bucks are getting leggy and thin too. Bossy's Boy is my largest and will be two years old in late May. Little Nub, Cocoa, BB, Brown Tail, Runt's twins, and all the other fawns will have lived a year come late May or early June. My beautiful 3-year old Longhorn was killed on the highway at the end of November so I heard in February from a friend who is an avid hunter. Evidently word spread that this was quite a deer. Someone picked him up right away since he was such a awesome buck which is why I never knew what happened or saw his body. One of the Long Tails has a button buck that looks just like him so I hope that baby will grow up and live a long life.

I still see my Brownie and her brood, thank heavens. Bandit stomped poor Big Girl's back this evening causing me to yell out at him. I cannot stand that. He is so aggressive. One of her twins from last year still lives and hangs out with the boys, so I guess that is why she puts up with this. I haven't seen her button buck. Sometimes the mothers push the young fawn boys away to teach them to hang out with other 'guys' so to speak but it is too early for that. Bossy was awful to Bossy's Boy last summer...she would chase him away from corn as though he were an enemy! Poor babies! Now he tolerates nobody except Bandit and pushes his mother out of the way of the corn! What goes around come around!

I still get to see Runt as she is learning to trust me more each month. Her tail was bit off when she was a baby and I used to hear her screaming for her mother late at night three years ago. It was excruciating. 'Fawn screams' sound like injured sheep. When I first heard that noise I thought someone (an animal) was being attacked. The mothers leave the babies hidden and graze nearby teaching them independence. The foxes scare the babies and it never fails to see a fox during these episodes. I rarely hear this in the winter, only summer and fall. The dogs go crazy which in turn gets me out of the bed with my huge 3 million candle spot light. I can see everything with that thing and I can always spot the predator. I read in a story written by a master of a foxhound hunt about a fox trying to kill a newborn fawn. Thankfully it turned out ok but the story was amazing and taught me a lot.

One summer while we had visitors, I heard that dreadful noise in the middle of the day which is unusual. Big Black Jack was a teenager then and was hunting with Devil Dog. I ran down to the backyard towards the distress call in the woods but before I got near the edge, Pokey (Devil Dog) popped out with Jack following and both ran past me looking quite alarmed. Seconds later, a doe passed me too, headed straight for the dogs who were close to the porch. She immediately made a sharp right and went up the hill and I am sure she circled back to her baby. Our visitors asked me if I was afraid she would have attacked me and I said no, it wasn't I she was after... I was no threat and she knew who I was and has watched me with the horses...I believe that was either Runt's great grandmother or Bossy's great grandmother or grandmother (still can't determine if Brownie and Bossy are sisters or mother and daughter).

I spotted a stray black lab and a beagle chasing deer the other day. I pray these dogs find good homes before the fawns arrive. They don't get near the house so I can't do anything for them. Maybe one brave deer will turn around, stop, and stomp them...they do that you know...they did that to Coty one morning...but that is another story!

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