Naturespeak A naturalist's view of the world

November 27, 2008

The Deer I Shot

Filed under: Uncategorized — wykes @ 9:49 am

Hey, everybody’s doing it this time of year. They’re talking about the buck they just shot, just spotted, just missed, or just saw tied onto the roof of a car. I just spotted a high six-pointer in the bed of a muddy black Ford pickup on Telegraph. The other day I parked next a Mercury sedan with a seven-pointer hanging out of the trunk (see above) and I stopped to watch an impressive – and live – ten pointer walk across the road ahead of me. I really want to show you the deer I shot, however.

  Before I reveal my prize, a little background is required. November is rut month for the White-tailed Deer. It is the time when the bucks are in prime condition and operating at prime stupidity. They are obsessed with the does and are driven exclusively by hormones. The big bucks, those endowed with sizable antlers, rule the roost. They can lay claim to any doe they wish as long as the other guys don’t have bigger antlers. If there is any question about relative size the thing is settled by locking antlers with the challenger. The winner claims his love prize and the loser looks for another doe. Because the world is over run with white-tails there is always another doe. But, like I said, I really want to show you the buck I shot.

Antlers are grown every year just for this season. A buck healthy enough to sprout a massive rack has the dance floor. A first or second year deer with spike horns becomes the equivalent of the pimply kid standing over by the punch bowl.  The big bucks tend to end up riding in the back of ford pickups, so it is left for the less endowed ones to bide their time and maybe get some action. I shot one of these small ones - I got him right between the eyes. He dropped his head and “bang.” Now you can see him (look here).

  I shot this fellow with a camera and he never knew what hit him. As you can see, it was a spike horn with just the hint of a fork at the top. What you may not have noticed are those small pieces of green bark sticking to the base of the antlers after a sapling battle. There is so much detail in this view that you can appreciate some other deer traits without looking at a head hanging out of a trunk. Note those big eyes, keen to any graceful doe entering the field, and those super long whiskers sticking out for… no particular reason.

 Deer are covered with glands and exude a musky odor similar to that pimply kid at the dance – a mix of “good” and “bad” smells. There is a gland, called the pre-orbital gland, located just in front of those eyes.  You can’t see the ones located on the forehead, on the inside of the hock, on the outside of each leg between the ankle and the hooves, and the ones between the toes.  Yes, between the big toes!

 Whitetails are toe walkers. You can plainly see this when an animal is walking on a hard surface such as this individual. There are actually four toes present. The two main toes are the “hooves” and the two minor toes become the “dew claws” positioned back up on the leg. Deer have no thumbs. If they did, they probably could avoid all those car/deer accidents and hitch a decent ride rather than smack into them.

  I think we’ve gloated enough over my trophy buck. He provided some nice little deer observation pointers but it’s time to let him return to the punchbowl. The deer I shot was taken through a plate glass window at a distance of ten feet. This less than impressive stud was biding his time at a bird feeder of all places. Take a look here and you can see him, and his little forest buddies “Charcoal” & “Foxy”, picking up some seeds at the Metrobeach Nature Center feeding station.

 You can leave all this last part out when you tell the other guys about my buck.

1 Comment »

  1. I do love the big eyes, the big ears, the eyelashes… I’ve always found it sad that the only wildlife most people see “up close” is either roadkill or hunt kill.

    Comment by Monica Milla — November 27, 2008 @ 9:53 am

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