It does not seem so long ago that Daisy, the orphaned deer, came to us as a wee 8 pound, spotted fawn of no more than a day old. Today she is a beautiful, long-legged girl, sporting her red, summer coat, roaming as she pleases. She carries scars from battle wounds; barbed wire fences cutting her hide, hoof beatings by other deer, and insect bites. She’s lost a few of her reflective collars, worn mostly to make her visible to motorists, and to let people know she’s been raised by humans. Though she has been sighted more than a mile from here, she tends to stay close to her home place most of the time, which makes her “mom” and “dad” pretty happy.
We really did not know what to expect when we released Daisy and Holly, the injured yearling, after hunting season last January. They took off together, though Holly did not return after a few days. We feel she may have ventured back to her area of origin, about 25 miles from here as the crow flies. We have researched deer relocation studies and discovered it is entirely possible she followed instinct and returned to her family herd. Daisy, however, may not have been confident enough, nor had the desire, to leave the only home she has ever known, and did not venture off with Holly. For five months now, Daisy has roamed this area on her own. She has shown us during that time that she is capable of surviving by instinct, without depending on us for anything more than friendship. We are still her human herd – her momma and, well, FD is probably more like an older sibling or aunt to her than “dad”. Short of the act of procreation, bucks do not do any real fathering.
Sometimes, Daisy will disappear for 2 or 3 days. I have tracked her a mile to the west near the river, and she has been seen nearly a mile north of here in another area near the river. Neighbors often spot her on the outskirts of town or across their pasture, grazing and moving about, always alert. She does not fear humans, but does recognize they are not part of her people herd, and is wary of them getting too close.
Most of the time though, Daisy is nearby or on our 10 acres. She is often found napping in the iris beds in FD’s Mom’s yard. Sometimes she is back in the woods or in the food plot we planted. Other times she’s in the nearby pecan orchard. We’ve seen her jump fences, fleeing a predator, and we recently heard her huffing in the woods while sensing some kind of danger, then bursting out to run across the pasture and to the safety of mom’s iris beds. At night we have spotted her in the canyon with some of the local, wild deer. One early morning we found her having corn at the feeder with a little buck about the same age as she is. We have watched her interact with other does, and sadly we have witnessed her being hoofed off by them. Recently, we have seen a mama doe at the feeder who continues to run Daisy off. Mother does are very protective of their young. Likely, she has fawns hidden nearby, and the doe is not tolerating a goofy yearling interfering with the safety of her young. We understand Daisy will probably not be accepted by the local herd. She does not understand the ways of a herd, and does not fear humans. She could be considered a danger to a herd, not knowing her place in the herd and their way of life.
If I am up before 6:00 in the morning, I often catch Daisy at the corn feeder below the house. Otherwise, we see her mostly in the evenings about an hour before dark. She seems to enjoy walking with us and grazing along the way, content to have the company of her people herd. She’s often silly and entertaining in the evening. Having slept during the day and only getting up to graze and get a bit of water, she’s ready to play and take off for her night exploration, doing whatever it is that deer do. FD often plays chase with her. She does her crazy head tossing, then gets down with her forelegs as if she is about to pounce, and then jumps, sometimes bucking and making a run for it!
Some mornings, if she’s napping over at Mom’s, Daisy will spot me and follow me around as I go about my morning chores, working in the gardens weeding, or watering flowers and herbs. While I work, Daisy helps herself to whatever might delight her palate. There isn’t much she doesn’t nibble on around here. My blackberries, raspberries, and fruit trees get a regular trim. Rose bushes get a good pruning too. In fact, Daisy eats the rose blossoms as well. I was pulling weeds one morning last week, when I heard a crunching noise near the grapevines. Sure enough, Daisy had discovered the plump, but not yet ripe, grape clusters hidden in the leaves. She simply nosed in and licked until her tongue caught the cluster and chomp, chomp… they disappeared in her mouth! One morning two weeks ago, FD and a friend had to quickly construct a fence around my tomato garden. I caught Daisy earlier that morning taking a chomp off the flowering tops of several tomato plants. I saw my future tomato crop vanish in a few ample gulps!
Another year from now, I imagine Daisy will have her own baby to think about. She will be starting her own little herd. I hope she will bring her babies to us each year, and I hope they will frequent our area. I will always try to keep a protective, reflective collar on Daisy for her safety. But I do realize there may come a time when she’s more wild, or feels compelled to set an example for her offspring to be wary of humans. Whatever her life is as time goes on, we will be flexible and allow her to be as she wishes. I may not have many plants left to admire and my berry and fruit crops may never really flourish, but it does not matter. FD and I agree it is an amazing gift we have been given, to share our lives with Miss Daisy Dew, our beautiful yearling, and would never trade it for the world.
© Day by Day the Farm Girl Way…