When orphaned Daisy deer first came to us, we researched whether we should put a blaze orange collar on her or not. It seemed a good idea since it could protect her somewhat when she was finally released to the wild. Hunters would be aware she had been raised by humans – it’s a universal understanding that harvesting a wild animal with an orange collar would be off limits. The reflective orange would make Daisy visible to vehicles when she crossed roads after dark – and we do have a couple of well-traveled roads nearby that the deer tend to cross. And lastly, she would be easily identified by neighbors. When Daisy was young, people in the neighborhood often reported where they had seen her, and most everyone was happy if she visited their property. For the five years Daisy has been in a blaze orange collar, it has served her well.
As Daisy grew, I got used to making new collars every few months. Early on, we bought collars with snaps and then affixed a reflective strip on them. Then, a friend in Texas who raised an orphaned deer many years before we acquired Daisy, showed me how she made collars for her deer with fabric, reflective tape, and Velcro. That way, should Daisy get hung up on something – a branch or a fence – she could tear away from the collar – much easier than the snap collars we had been using. Her latest design in fashioning a collar was to make it from orange Duck Tape, with a reflective strip down the middle and a Velcro closure. Copying her design, FD and I found these collars stood up well in the tough Oklahoma weather, yet were still safe for Daisy to tear off if she got hung up on something.
I had gone to a lot of trouble putting together her last couple of collars. I reinforced the area where the tape met the Velcro, as there always seemed to be a problem with that seam tearing in a short time. Still, the first reinforced collar somehow came off and was lost just a few weeks after we put it on her. I could not say exactly what happened with it, since we have never found it, but Daisy seemed quite pleased being collar-free for a time (like she usually was when this happened) and gave us a lot of trouble getting another one on her. I couldn’t blame her for dodging us when we came at her with a new collar. I never liked anything around my neck either. Even necklaces tend to bug me when I wear them on an evening out.
But we did finally get the second collar on her, and it held together quite well during this year’s spring rains and the early summer heat. There were the usual barbed wire fence nicks in it, and a slight peeling of the adhesive from the Velcro due to the rain and heat, but all in all it was holding up well. In fact, she was still wearing it after she birthed her twins this year in early June. I marveled at how evident that collar made her at a distance. Daisy and her twins would blend in with the woodlands, but that orange could always be seen at the slightest glance. I even noticed Daisy’s twins seemed curious about their mother’s adornment, and often sniffed or licked it.
Then one day in mid-July, Daisy showed up without her collar. On meeting her down at the bottom of the slope, FD could immediately see that, besides a missing collar, Daisy had many dull claw marks around her neck, along with a wide band of hair around her neck and shoulders that was missing or rubbed off, several patches of bruising and more hair missing on her body, as well as having scratched up legs. With all this, it was obvious Daisy had gone to battle to protect a fawn – perhaps with a wild dog or a coyote, that may have latched onto Daisy’s collar during the fight, keeping her from breaking free. This wasn’t the first time we had seen this when Daisy was raising fawns. Her very first buck had been lost to a bobcat, which Daisy fought mightily, even becoming injured badly herself. After thinking the collar may have provided the predator a “handhold” that kept Daisy from adequately protecting herself and her fawn, FD and I decided it was time to let her be collar-free for good.
This has caused us to wonder about Emma and Ronnie deer and how long to keep them in a collar as well. FD and I seem to agree that Ronnie might wear one his first year as a fawn. But as he becomes a yearling and develops antlers, it may not be safe. His world will be difficult as a buck with sparring and fighting during the rut season and a collar could be a disadvantage in battle. As for Emma, we still believe it is a good idea to keep a collar on her for a time as she explores her territory, and becomes acclimated to living as a wild deer. Had it not been for her identifying orange collar, Daisy may not have been returned to us when, as a yearling, she decided to explore the backyards of a neighborhood a half mile up the river channel. These types of decisions are never easy and, ultimately, we just want the best for our wild critters. And now, it feels right to give Daisy this final freedom… after all, she has earned it.
© 2016 Day by Day the Farm Girl Way…