Bedding Down in the Snow

Yesterday after wind and whirling snow subsided I tucked the camera into my down jacket and headed a short distance into the bush. Several inches fell during the storm so much of the colour I photographed the other day was buried for now.

But I did discover two large bare spots beneath the trees. Both about the same size and with tracks nearby.

Deer bed in snow

Two whitetail deer had bedded down to wait out the storm. They are probably the ones born here last year. I took this photo a couple of weeks ago as they grazed along our driveway.

Whitetail deer

Whitetail deer   Odocoileus virginianus

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Oh, Deer

Whitetail deer are common in our woods. Each year at least one doe gives birth here and stays to raise her young, often twins. This year only one fawn appeared — but still a delight to see.

This one wandered into our front yard a few days ago to graze on leaves. While some of our rural and town neighbours complain that deer eat their flowers, the ones who visit us are well-behaved, choosing wild plants instead. 🙂

Stripped

Fireweed. The icon of fire-blackened forests. A flower of high summer. Tall spikes of bright pink that capture the eye from afar.

It seems they’ve also caught the attention of the whitetail deer who wander into our yard from the woods. They eat fireweed like cotton candy, rolling their tongues along the stems, pulling off blooms and buds and leaves.

Now you see ’em …

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Now you don’t …

Fireweed stripped bare by whitetail deer

Well there’s always next year. 🙂


Fireweed    Epilobium angustifolium
Whitetail deer   Odocoileus virginianus

 

 

 

The Deer

Just a few steps from the house I looked up and spotted a mule deer. She was about 10 metres away grazing in the grass. She looked up, saw me and continued on with supper.

This was surprising. First, deer don’t usually let me get this close. And second, this was a mule deer. Until this evening I’d seen only white tails in the yard. This doe was a special treat.

As she moved through the grass I followed behind, fumbling with my camera bag trying to change lenses. She seemed unconcerned.

With the telephoto I got a shock. Much of the hair was missing from her face and around the base of both ears.  There are cougars in the bush. Had she been attacked? A longer look suggested not. The overall effect was of something smaller. Ticks? Lice? Mites? Although she seemed to be feeding normally, in certain light I could see her ribs. Not a good sign for this time of year.

Mule deer

Animals face many dangers in the wild from which they will recover. Or not. Predators. Human hunters. Parasites. Disease. Broken legs. An eye lost to a tree branch. Feral dogs. Cars and trucks on the roads.

Mule deer

She was coping in the way wild things do. I watched her drift into the bush. There was nothing I could do but hope she would recover.


Mule deer   Odocoileus hemionus

 

On Track

 

I wandered a muddy dirt road after the recent snowfall melted looking for tracks. This day I got lucky — I also spotted the track-makers.

I surprised two white-tailed does and their fawns grazing in a nearby field. A flick of their tails and the does disappeared into the bush before I got my camera out.

The fawns were a bit slower (wake up kids, it’s a dangerous world out there) — no time to focus, only to click the shutter before they, too, vanished among the trees.

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White-tailed deer   Odocoileus virginianus