Judging by the underwhelming support I’m receiving for these deer posts, I’m guessing you folks would like me to finish this story and move on. I’ve been taking deer pictures for several years now and this buck was one of the first deer whose photos I actually liked. I guess because I got close enough. When I got home and pulled the photos up on my computer, I discovered he had a wound on his nose. I decided it had been from a fight with another buck, but as I said, it bothered me. The time of year was wrong for bucks to be fighting. It had been several months since they had lost their antlers. The wound seemed only a few days or a couple weeks old at the most.
Most of the time this buck is very protective of the females, but this time of year they separate, because it’s time for the does to have their fawns and they don’t need or want the buck around for that. They each stake out their own nursery area and will not tolerate other deer in that area. I know where several of these nursery areas are, but that does not guarantee I will find fawns. If the does don’t want me to see their fawns, I, or anyone else for that matter, won’t see them.
When the buck separates from the females his whole demeanor changes. He stops acting like the king of the hill, trying to impress the does with how brave he is and becomes…hmmm…in a word – friendly.
I’ve actually walked through fields with him, spending as long as forty-five minutes to an hour taking his photos while we walked along. He and I have circled each other in the woods, without him running away and he has shown me his family. He’s very close to one of the females, so I’m guessing she was the first to bear him offspring. On one occasion I followed him into a field and nearly stepped on a Wild Turkey who was very well hidden in the tall grass.
He’s become like a faithful dog, never very demanding and just seemed glad to hang out with me. A two hundred pound (91 kilos) dog, capable of going from 0 to 35mph (0 to 55kph) in a heartbeat. I watched several tourists pass right by him without even noticing him sitting in the field the day I took these photos. What can I say, city slickers always bringing their city to the forest rather than leaving all that crap behind.
So, where did the scar come from? The day we walked through this field I stayed on the man-trails because it had only been a couple weeks since I had nearly stepped on the turkey and I did not want to repeat that. I was also aware that a family of birds was nesting out in the middle of this field, right where he was headed, but when I didn’t follow him, he turned around.
Here are the new photos. I think I know where he got the scar from.
He began inching forward, even seeming to crouch down like a big cat stalking prey.
I like to think he learned that from me. But wait, it gets better.
At this point, when I realized an encounter between a very large animal and a male and female animal protecting their young was happening, I just held the button down on the camera. My camera taking pictures as fast as the processor would allow.
Eye to eye. Face to face. One of the Sandhill Cranes walked up to the deer and…
bam! That had to hurt.
Then…the stare down.
It would take nothing for this two hundred pound deer (91 kilos) to stomp the heck out of this 10 pound (less than 5 kilos) bird. However, as you can see, the crane ain’t backing down. Wild animals will die trying to protect their young. The buck eventually looked away.
Now look at their posture. The crane holds his head slightly higher than the deer. He’s won…the encounter has ended. The deer will move off and the crane’s family has been saved.