I did not know what to think yesterday morning when I walked out to the front gate to unlock it and found Ronnie deer by himself on the north side of our house. Since it was still dark out, I scanned the property with my flashlight, but found no sign of his sister. While Emma was prone to taking off on her own, Ronnie was usually never far behind. I hoped Emma was nearby, and safe. But as I returned from the gate, I could see Ronnie, still by himself, at the top of the slope, looking down into the canyon. To me, he seemed to be looking for Emma.
When I mentioned to FD that I had discovered Ronnie alone this morning, he wondered if Emma and Ronnie might have tried to follow some visiting deer during the night and perhaps Ronnie, being a buck, was unwanted by the does and hoofed away. This made sense since the rut, or mating season for deer, could still be going on. As long as the bucks had their antlers they would be fertile, and if a doe did not achieve conception the first time she came into estrus, she would continue to have opportunity each month until the bucks lost their antlers. As many times as I watched poor Daisy get hoofed by the local deer – it was several months until she was even slightly accepted as an underling in the herd – it was difficult for me to think of Ronnie and Emma having to go through this as well.
Just an hour later, when I finished up breakfast and announced to FD that he had better come and get his egg scramble before it got cold, there was no acknowledgment that he heard me, nor was there any sign of him. “Where was that man?”, I wondered. After a second call to him, I got curious and began looking for him. I found him on the back porch motioning for me to come outside, but putting his index finger to his lips to indicate for me to be quiet. As I slipped through the screen door without a screen (thanks to Punkin the squirrel who tore it off two years ago), I could see FD was mouthing the word “BUCK” to me, and pointing down into the canyon. I quickly scanned the woodlands but saw nothing until, all of a sudden, I noticed Emma running lickety-split through the woods, with Ronnie trying to intercept her! But then hot on Emma’s trail was a magnificent seven or eight-point buck! About that time, the buck made a sudden dash towards Ronnie to run him off, while also keeping his eyes on the prize – Emma. Excited, I went back in the house for the camera, but on my return I realized getting action photos in the low light, with cold morning temperatures, was not likely to produce very good images. Why hadn’t I grabbed my iPhone for video instead? Arrgh!
Finally, after several fast runs through the woodlands, Emma joined Ronnie up top on the rim of the slope, just off our back porch. I wondered if she felt safe near her “parents”. Maybe she knew the buck would be very reluctant to come near the house. As it was, it did not take long for the buck to spot FD and me, and he apparently wanted nothing to do with humans, so he made a tremendous leap over the neighbor’s fence to the north to hide in a thick snarl of woodlands and watch Emma from a distance. Finally, with a few giant leaps and a graceful jump over the fence and into the pecan orchard, Emma’s would-be suitor had all he wanted of human interference in his love life, and disappeared to the west.
After dancing round and around with Emma trying to get a look at her rear-end, I confirmed she was indeed slightly pink back there. Her time of estrus would not be far off. This certainly was not what I wanted for her. Conceiving this late in the rut would put Emma at birthing in August. Chances of survival of a late-season fawn are never good, and summer pregnancy takes a toll on the doe – as we had witnessed with Daisy’s first doe fawn, Spirit. Rather than being saddled with the responsibilities of motherhood as Spirit was, I wanted Emma to enjoy her next year of adventure and independence, to become a confident yearling, and take part in joining the local herd.
FD is just sure the big buck will be back. I am hoping today’s rain will keep Emma’s scent down, and I hope that, like last night, Emma and Ronnie will bed down up top in the pasture just beyond the yard. But of course there is still another problem… Ronnie has been following Emma around non-stop with his nose up her tail and doing the “lip curl“. It is possible, since Ronnie is a little buck with hard antlers, he could be fertile by now. If so, I am hoping he won’t be tall enough to do the job! Poor Emma! What’s a girl to do when love is in the air?
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