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Old 09-02-2008
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Default Deer

Someone (who perhaps has more enthusiasm than kindness for fellow ACOs on the board, shortly to become the bored) asked about deer. In fairness, I triple-dog-dared them, so they really had no choice. Anyway, ahem ...

The most important things to know about Deer.

(*) Deer HAVE to run. In the wild, you eat or you get eaten. Deer fall into the category of "get eaten," unlike humans, dogs, and cats (which, as fellow predators, have kind of an "in" on each others' modus operandi). As prey animals, a deer's primary modus operandi is to up-and-run away from things (especially when stressed, but also when the mood strikes them that way). Up-and-Running is their first, greatest strength, as well as their most effective defence mechanism. They up-and-run often enough that they have developed this whole “eat grass, run someplace else, THEN digest the grass” method of eating, which tells you something about how much they NEED to be free to run. (Imagine holding a burger in your throat, running for half-an-hour, and then kind of urping it up and finishing eating it for real.) If a deer can't run away from things, her "run away" system overloads until she dies even if there's nothing to run away from. A deer stuck in a fence or a yard or mud is in imminent danger of death, whether or not they're actually in imminent danger from dogs or the RP or the tide. (Incidentally, this also holds true for other high-stress prey animals, such as rabbits and small birds.)

An exception to this rule: Baby deer cannot run fast enough to get away from predators. Until they develop that speed (about the same time, not at all coincidentally, as they lose their spots), they will prefer to sit very, very still rather than run. Mom goes off and grazes (so she doesn't attract predators), then returns to baby every 12 hours.

(*) If Deer Cannot Run, Let Them Hide. The kindest thing you can do for a trapped or severely injured deer is to take a dark sheet or blanket, rub it in grass to hide the human smell, then drape it over the animal's head so that it can't see out. If it can't see you, it is less frightened of you. And it will definitely want to stay under cover, so this will help calm it down and make handling easier.

(*) Deer WILL Kick Your Butt If Necessary. Deer have three social connections: first, with their mothers, for the first year of life; then with their same-sex kindred, forever; and, for a tumultuous month or so every year, with their mates. If you are handling an injured/sick fawn, keep an eye out for the fawn's mom, who will whomp your patootie if she is around. If it's the mating season, and you are helping a doe that's been HBC, keep an eye out for her buck, who will, likewise, tromp on your asp. If you are helping a buck out of someone's yard, and you see Buck #2 of the same general age and size outside the yard, keep this information close to your heart ... that's probably Buck #1's brother trying to decide whether to help him out or not.

Anyone else care to add more?

It's not what we have in our life, but who we have in our life that counts. (J.M. Lawrence)
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