A Different Approach

Most days after FD takes off for work, I enjoy my second cup of coffee on the back porch. I read a little from my iPad and watch the woodlands wake up. The Cardinals are always the first to begin chirping and flying about. Soon chickadees, titmice, and mockingbirds join in, while a few of the gentle, mourning doves settle in to warm their wings in the rising sun at the top of the slope. Lately, I have also observed a few vultures begin their morning flight, gliding high above the woodlands. This particular morning, I was happy to see a few deer wandering in from the willow area of the orchard. Mama and the triplets (whom we now refer to as “Momanem”, which is southern slang for “Mom and them”), Scarlet and her twin yearlings, Split-ear, and two other does I was not familiar with, were taking turns at the feeders. And earlier, a doe with twins a few weeks older than the triplets, visited the feeders. With all of the recent rain and the nearby river about to flood over its banks, I wondered if the local population of mother deer and their kids were seeking higher ground. Regardless, it was unusual and interesting to see so much activity in the woodlands. With cooler morning temperatures, the deer were all feeling a bit frisky. There was lots of play among the fawns, while the does hoofed at each other to show dominance.  But back further in the woods, it looked like a more frantic chase was going on. Using my zoom lens to get a better look, I realized it was an adult doe being chased by a young buck. This cavorting is normal pre-rut activity.

Realizing I was not going to be able to identify the buck with my zoom lens, I went inside to retrieve my binoculars. It did not take long to identify the yearling buck as Split-ear’s brother, who I had seen chasing the triplet’s mama a few times recently. It’s normal to see young bucks chasing does this early in mating season, and it appeared that Split-ear’s brother only managed to irritate the does. I could not help but feel a bit sorry for the young fella, as it is his first year with real antlers and his first experience with testosterone in his system. But we have seen game camera video where we noticed Split-ear’s brother hanging with Spike and the buck we feel might be Ronnie, so it was good he had found a couple of young bucks to buddy up with – for now. It will not be long before Spike and Ronnie will be seriously participating in real rut activity, and Split-ear’s brother will likely be run off, leaving him to find a female in the outer realms of an area dominated by bigger, well-seasoned bucks.

I counted ten does, fawns and yearlings down below that early morning.
Something had the triplet’s mama and another doe on alert!

Soon my attention shifted to activity going on down at the feeders. With so many does down below, there was a skirmish about establishing dominance. Even among the yearlings and fawns, there is a pecking order. The runt of the triplets tried to seek protection from its mother, while its siblings were chased by Split-ear and another doe. Round and round this went, until oddly, the cavorting stopped and all attention was focused on the wildlife water tub. I shifted my view to the object of their stares as well. It was Split-ear’s brother.

Zooming in, I couldn’t believe my eyes! Here he was again… having adorned his antlers with a small branch of leaves! I recently posted nighttime game camera footage of this activity in “Woodland Headdress” and, with this latest antic, I am now wondering if he actually enjoys the feel of a frilly addition to his crown of antlers. Then again, it may be as simple as finding a sparring companion in a nearby shrub or bush and coming away with a victory trophy. I contemplated this as the does and fawns sauntered off to the willows and on to the slough area of the orchard, while Split-ear’s brother followed a distance behind, sporting his new, leafy hat. I know he will find his own way during his first rut, and maybe wearing some leafy bling will help in his endeavor to get a girl! At the very least, he seems to have come up with an interesting way of getting attention.

© 2018 Day by Day the Farm Girl Way…


34 thoughts on “A Different Approach

  1. No, Steve, I haven’t heard anything nor have I turned anything up in online research. I will probably send my blog post links on this to the state biologist who came out here when we first bought the orchard. We wondered what advice he might have to make a better habitat for whitetail. Many times I could dispute plants that he cited to be eradicated and not of use to the deer – I had seen them eat and nibble at these plants. He asked me to try to photograph or video such activity and send it to him. He might find this particular “phenomenon” interesting, if not comical.

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    1. Thank you, Anne. As you can tell, most are named for identifying marks. We have quite a few young deer in the woods this year. With the rut activity we always see loss – the mamas either go off to find a buck or are chased by bucks and the little ones can’t keep up and get separated in the fray. Coyotes take advantage of this. The mother’s might be gone just a few days, but it is enough for the little ones to be at risk. There is just as much sorrow as there is joy with these lovely creatures… but I try to enjoy them for whatever they bring to life in these woodlands.

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  2. Very much enjoyed this post, Lori. I felt like I was right there beside you! I like the term ‘momanem’ too. Young buck is quite fetching with his new found head adornment! Maybe he will start a trend. xo

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    1. Thank you, Ardys. Having coffee or tea on the back porch is such a lovely way to start the day. I see a lot of activity from my perch up top the slope. I also see a lot from my kitchen window as I prepare meals. We have been on this place for eleven years now, and finally the young trees we planted early on are beginning to look as if they’ve been here forever. I like that we can sit either at the front or back porch and watch the wildlife like this.

      Split-ear’s brother seems to be the comedian in the woodlands. He reminds me so much of my brother when we kids were little. He was always showing off and doing something silly to get our attention. 🙂

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  3. I can not recognize the trees from these pictures. It does not matter. I just take notice in Oklahoma. I saw the only cardinal I have ever seen there. I was so amazed that something that bright red could be out in the wild without getting eaten by something else. I probably already mentioned it. We saw it near Pink.

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    1. Tony, I saw this same type of leaf while walking back in the woods yesterday, but I am not familiar with the tree at all. I’ll have to research this one. As for cardinals, our property is populated heavily with Cardinals, and every spring and summer I watch them hatch babies in the low growing shrubs and trees in our yard. And each winter they are very easy to spot in the woodlands with that bright red color.

      I always chuckle a little when you mention Pink, OK. It’s such a tiny community. I didn’t know until recently that it is the only town named Pink in the entire United States!

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      1. Why would there be another Pink? That is an odd name for a town.
        While there, I asked someone at Country Boy Market how Pink got the odd name. She said, “Well, . . . (long pause) . . . let me tell ya. . . . (long pause) . . . Over yonder, . . . (long pause) . . . there used to be a town called . . . (brief pause) . . . Brown. . . . (very long pause with a blank stare into the distance while I waited for the explanation of how that was at all relevant.)”
        It is like asking how many licks does it take to get to the center of a Tootsie Pop.

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  4. Do you suppose he’s browsing plants above his head, and the occasional branch is falling down on him? The end of the branch caught in his antlers looks like it’s been “peeled” off the tree or shrub with some force. If you can identify the plant, and it’s one deer like to browse, that might be a clue.

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    1. What an interesting question, Linda! Split-ear’s brother picked up this small branch from the ground. We have “Twig Girlders” around here. This is an article I found about them – http://www.oces.okstate.edu/haskell/agriculture/what-is-cutting-the-limbs-on-my-trees/. This happens every autumn, and is something I see with many species of tree. Unless you have a very small yard, it’s quite difficult to stop this from happening. I have picked up these twigs for years and burned them as suggested, but of course we live near the woods so it’s unlikely I’ll ever make a dent in the population.

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      1. That’s really interesting. Whenever I see small branches like this on the ground, I’ve always assumed the squirrels were responsible, although some seemed too large to be part of a nest-building project. I’ve never heard of twig girdlers, but we might have them, too. I’ll explore that possibility — thanks!

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        1. I actually learned this from my neighbor (with the troublesome big dogs) years ago. One of his large elm trees canopies a huge area of our yard and in the autumn I go out daily to clean up the branches. I’ve done this for years. We have many younger elms around and it happens with them too, but not nearly so much to clean up – perhaps they’re not infested so badly.

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    1. Hello Robyn! Most of the deer we recognize by marks or habits they have. There are a few like Scarlet deer, who have been around for years, who are used to our presence and tolerate us. Ha ha! Many of the yearlings take off in time. I find myself thankful to observe them as we do, and note personality differences. Split-ear’s brother seems to be the comedian of the group. Not sure if he just enjoys his antlers a lot, or if he’s trying to impress the girls somehow!

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    1. I’m sure he’ll manage on his own. This is just a small branch so he should be able to whack it on something to work it loose. I’ve never been able to get close enough to touch any deer except the three we raised. Even Daisy’s first fawn, Spirit, never let us touch her. We could get about five feet from her, but she raced off if we tried to get any closer.

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  5. Ah, maybe it is a coincidence that the youngster got a crown made of a leafy twig for the second time. Maybe you’ll never know but again, maybe you will. Loved reading about the deer antics as they come and go at the feeders. It surely must be entertaining for you. I can not think of a better way to start a new day.

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    1. You have that right, Yvonne! The autumn brings the pre-rut activity and the deer now have their winter coats and are quite frisky in the mornings. Activity should pick up here any time… the chase will be on. I’m sure Split-ear’s brother is already pursuing the girls – I’ve seen him chasing the triplet’s mama around some. I hope he has good luck somewhere. I think it’s fairly difficult for the yearling bucks to compete with the big boys.

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    1. It sure does make for entertaining and education. I believe it has also served the wildlife well for us to let the pecan orchard go wild this year. There has been a lot of cover for animals and birds.

      More than the feeders, I think the water tub was extremely helpful this year. With the drought over the summer I found myself filling that old bathtub almost daily. You can’t believe all of the wildlife that draws water from that tub!

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  6. Hi Lori, In addition to the curious behaviors of deer, I enjoyed some of poetic sounding (sorta) expressions here–“my perch up top the slope,” “mominem,” and of course “leafy bling.”

    And as far as curious names for towns, not too far from Pink are some in my state. Years ago I read a poem by Mona Van Duyn called “A Small Excursion,” https://www.jstor.org/stable/20595623, about those Missouri towns and how “the people who named them / are nobody’s fools.” In one section she says,

    Passing through Peculiar, we could follow
    A real school bus labeled Peculiar Public Schools

    (Note: I read recently about school district consolidations, so now there are no more buses that are for Peculiar students.)

    If the above link is not accessible, here’s a extra long one, in case you want to read the poem. I couldn’t find it online at any other addresses. Hope it works. I think you’ll like the poem. She won some awards in her time.

    https://books.google.com/books?id=0r1cQVdQ_rkC&pg=PT140&lpg=PT140&dq=mona+van+duyn+poem+take+a+trip+with+me+through+small+towns+in+missouri&source=bl&ots=AgNZyfzG1V&sig=gJ420xKTLFvgbgwaeoKCtLzRdAE&hl=en&sa=X&ved=2ahUKEwjEstDmx-beAhUHA6wKHS8tAoAQ6AEwAnoECAgQAQ#v=onepage&q=mona%20van%20duyn%20poem%20take%20a%20trip%20with%20me%20through%20small%20towns%20in%20missouri&f=false

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