Friday, January 30, 2009

Deer, Deer, Deer...


Black-tailed deer are very common in our coast ranges, and one of their favorite things to do is cross rural roads at dusk. Smart drivers take blind turns at more moderate speeds in the evenings and nighttime, knowing that to damage a "deer-in-the-headlights"* is to damage your vehicle as well. You can drive past them pretty closely, but if you stop and get out, they "high-tail it" (run away), because you're doing something unexpected.

They can sometimes be seen grazing in the valley pastures alongside horses and cattle, but they mix in a lot of browsing of tender new shrub growth and low hanging tree leaves into their diet as well. Often, an old orchard looks as if someone pruned all the limbs and twigs about five or six feet from the ground, but actually the work is done by deer. In the autumn, they love to eat fallen apples, and rural gardeners need to protect their rosebushes from being completely stripped of leaves.

*This phrase is often used to describe someone staring wide-eyed in confusion in an overwhelming circumstance.

14 comments:

Bibi said...

My mother often had deer in the yard of her former home. We'd see them coming very close by the dining room window.

Laurie said...

And this is a dear, dear, dear photo!

Deer are a big part of Austin, where I grew up. My mom's neighborhood is overrun with them. She gave up trying to plant flowers in the yard years ago becasue they were basically just salad for the roaming deer. I loved it when my nephew was a toddler and he used to stagger out into the backyard saying, "Here, deer!"

valeria said...

What a paceful sight! The grass, the soft light and the deers!

Halcyon said...

I know deer can be hazardous to the garden, but I do love them. It's just neat to see bambi wandering around the neighborhood!

Walker said...

Lovely shadows across the field.

Kym said...

Here in Humboldt, it seems like everyone I know has had at least one unfortunate vehicular encounter with deer. I know one woman who had three at finally put some kind of whistle on her car that only deer could hear. She swears it works.

Chuck Pefley said...

I always keep a sharp eye out for these guys when riding in rural areas ... hitting a deer with a 2-wheel vehicle can be deadly to the rider. Not a fun prospect!

Virginia said...

Lovely photograph E. and when they are through, the shrubbery willl be clean as a whistle!
V

Jill said...

Hi Elaine. I once had a manager who had that look.

Petrea said...

Looks like you got sort of close. They seem so sweet.

Kim said...

Elaine, I love the composition of your black tail deer photo. So beautiful and peaceful. I'm glad you got to see them in this lovely setting.
-Kim
Seattle Daily Photo

USelaine said...

Bibi - They get close to my mom's windows too! Some years, a doe will raise a fawn near her house, so they grow up being comfortable with the noises and activities in the house and garden.

Laurie - My mom has a high perimeter fence around her garden, but if she accidentally leaves the gate open, the more experienced deer sneak in for some delicious browsing.

Valeria - Thanks, I thought so too!

Halcyon - I like to see them too, but I also like them to keep some wildness about them. It seems more dignified for them.

Walker - Thank you. I've had other opportunities to take deer pictures, but encountering these shadows this time made me stop and do it.

Kym - I'm glad you mentioned that. I left that out of the post. My "moment" happened over on the coast highway about ten years ago. I was going slow enough that the deer walked away, but it destroyed one headlight and part of the grill even then. She must have had painful broken ribs, or worse. I've never seen deer retreat from those bumper whistles, so I'm not convinced.

Chuck - Man, that would be miserable! I'm glad you're vigilant.

V - Well, that sure puts a positive spin on it!

Jill - You know, I think head honchos and inexperienced politicians are famous for it. Probably a function of being "in the spotlight" for them.

P - I would have liked to have stopped along the narrow drive behind the trees on the right, but I didn't want to scare them off. When the road took a dog-leg further on, I then stopped and zoomed.

Kim - Thank you. I was lucky to have a reason to be on this private ranch that day, and asked if I could take pictures on the way out. Classically pastoral, and everything was beautifully built and maintained.

Thanks for looking in, all my dears!

Kris said...

Are you allowed to eat them?

USelaine said...

Kris - Yes, but only the adult males, and only those killed during the legal hunting season.