Tuesday, February 22, 2005

Footprints




I've got small feet, but that seems like a pretty big deer print to me. The back parts of their hooves splay apart sometimes in the mud, and can make them seem bigger than they really are.

We see deer here a lot, but I haven't managed to get a good picture yet. They always smell us or hear us before we can get too close.

We see lots of deer signs though, from prints to scat to "rubs" (saplings that the bucks use to rub the velvet off their antlers).

Deer are becoming too numerous in this area. I've seen four roadkill deer on the local highway in the past few weeks, which at 65 mph usually means four totalled cars. Last year the deer ate all the tomatoes that we tried to grow, along with a large number of the trilliums in the woods.

I asked my mother once if she ate a lot of deer when she was growing up (in north Georgia). She said no, that there were not any deer around back then. Commercial hunting and clear-cutting wiped out most of the deer, and a lot of the deer habitat, by the early 1900s.

Most farmers hunted back then, but it was mostly for quail and other small game. I guess lots of southern grandmothers have old photo albums filled with pictures of men in overalls, posed with their hunting rifles and bird dogs.

White-tailed deer were restocked in many areas in the 30s and early 40s. Without many of their natural predators, populations have exploded.

3 comments:

MissBossyPants said...

I remember the first time I ate deer and my dad told me what it was, I cried. Now I would prefer to eat deer shot by a skilled and knowledgeable hunter than meat or poultry raised in a pen. But since we're not hunters in this house, we don't eat much game. Hard to believe that a century ago, deer were scarce. I live near Oak Mountain and they're everywhere. And not all of them look so healthy, since more deer are competing for food.

shannon said...

At least they're still skittish by you! We have such a problem here in Jersey - home of Lymes Disease - that they'll walk around 24/7 and just look at you, like, how dare you interupt my snack! Guineas do a good job of controlling the deer ticks that act as carriers, but once we figure out the deer routes here (seems they do indeed follow hte creek in back which makes sense) we'll have to start getting estimates on deer fence to protect the market garden - last year, much clser to the higheway, we only had one buck, so he was easier to scare off every feww weeks when he'd start munching.

Rurality said...

Dusti, my sister had the same reaction (oh no, Bambi!), but eventually got over it and now likes venison too. I wonder if the new hunting program at Oak Mountain has helped any... I'd heard about malnourished deer in that area before.

Shannon, I'd hate to imagine deer that tame anywhere near the garden or the road! I guess there are too many hunters around here for that. In the state parks (like Oak Mountain mentioned above, and Lake Guntersville), they KNOW that they are safe and are much tamer.