Mention white-tailed deer to a gardener living in deer-browse territory to hear moans, grumbles, and ruminations over how many bucks – in currency form – have been consumed by bucks – the creature form – and their relatives. I’m likely to be one of those grumbling. But as a firm believer in knowing ones enemy, I watched the online video, “The Private Life of Deer,” as presented by the Nature series on PBS. It’s a video worth watching.
If, like me, you live in ideal deer-browse territory – the edge between human-occupied housing and native woodlands – you know that deer browse most actively during dawn and dusk. You know that deer will consume just about any plant material and that deterrents and sprays only work for a while, if at all.
But it’s good to be reminded that deer
- eat 7 pounds of plant material each day,
- can leap fencing up to 8 feet tall from a standing position and clear taller fencing when they have a running start,
- have a life cycle of about 10 years,
- and that does can bear young at the tender age of 9 months and often have twins and triplets.
If, like me, you’ve had at least one deer vs. vehicle encounter it’s good to be reminded that
- older, more experienced deer are more acclimated to traffic,
- fawns are more likely to dart into or in front of cars,
- and deer freeze in a caught-in-headlight stance because of their poor eyesight, not because they are giving drivers the proverbial finger.
Their poor eyesight also explains why they just stand and look at me when I’m yelling at them, from my front porch, to shoo. Yet, when I chase toward them, with my arms waving and spewing the language of a drunken sailor, they tend to take me more seriously. It’s all right … my neighbors ignore me, and I don’t spew when my granddaughter is in earshot.
But back to the video. Deer are interesting creatures. The video explains the meaning of a deer’s stance, their amazing sense of smell and hearing, their social and mating rituals, and how poorly those life-size coyote or wolf cutouts work as deer deterrents. You can also check out this infographic for more deer facts.
I’m not one to say, “Aww, isn’t that cute,” when I see a young fawn in my yard and I definitely will not adopt a fawn as a wild pet, as recounted in the video.
But the video did give me improved understanding of deer behavior.
Who knows, improved understanding just might tip the scales more in my favor when it comes to keeping foliage on my plantings, rather than in deer stomachs.