Tukker’s Lair

I keep fairly busy outdoors throughout the day, but mornings are when you’ll find me hardest at work. I’m up for coffee at 6:00, and out of the door by 7:00, tending to chickens and working in the garden, flower beds, or yard while it’s fairly shady and the temperatures are cool. As I begin my day’s work, I often see Tukker feeding on weeds in the yard, or tree leaves of young saplings along the outer woodlands. He generally comes by to check out what I’m doing and then moseys off nibbling in another direction. By 8:00 in the morning, he’s disappeared somewhere to do a little ruminating. Most days, I see him duck into our neighbor Steve’s backyard and, often, do not see him again until around noon, or even in the late afternoon or evening hours.

I knew Tukker was highly irritated by pesky insects that attacked him all day long, but have not given much thought to just where he bedded down during the heat of the day. Many times, we observed him tossing his head and flicking his ears, then running off to escape biting flies. We had seen this same reaction with other deer that seemed to have a low tolerance for biting insects. Besides the biting flies, it was normal to find a new cluster of ticks attached each day to Tukker’s growing antlers, in and on his ears, under his chin, and around his eyelids and anus. I knew from working in the orchard in the tall grasses and towering trees, that insects tended to be worse in those areas. So I wasn’t surprised to see Tukker keeping closer by our home where he could access good eats from trees on the outer edge of the woodlands and along fence lines, and over at Steve’s, where the property was just a little more woolly and wild.

Though I often looked out for Tukker during the day, just glancing around to see where he spent his time bedded down, I could never find him. I figured he was behaving as bucks do during the spring and summer months, lying low, eating well, and protecting his growing antlers. I expected he was in Steve’s backyard somewhere. But it was FD who happened to notice movement outside of the computer room window one day about lunch time. Tukker was exiting his lair, which was quite cleverly located under the kitchen window!

Forsythia, Spirea, and a large sage plant provide beautiful spring landscaping
Side view of Tukker’s lair. It’s the tiny black hole area on the left, next to the brick.

This spot was sensible. It offered protection from the sun, and because of the dense shrubbery along that wall, Tukker was well camouflaged. Just on the other side of the forsythia and spirea bushes, is my herb and lettuce greens bed. All of my herbs are placed in flower beds around the house, and in the lettuce and greens patch for easy picking and to ward off insects, which are often repelled by the strong fragrances. While cool and mostly bug-free, Tukker found comfort in the soft dirt, and it offered him a good view of any passersby. He could make a quick escape from either direction if need be, and he could keep an eye out for FD, who sometimes offered an apple or carrot in the late afternoon. Here, Tukker had found a most excellent location to ruminate and rest. And I can’t help but wonder if it also provides a bit of a comfort for him to be near his human family.

I crawled under the forsythia bush to get this shot. I have to admit it was nice and cool under there and nary a bug to be seen!

© 2020 Day by Day the Farm Girl Way…

 


20 thoughts on “Tukker’s Lair

  1. That is so sweet. Maybe he’s just one of those kids that doesn’t want to leave home. I am envious of his front legs being able to relax at 180 angles from each other! These youngsters are flexible. Thank you for sharing this Lori, I really enjoyed it…and I don’t like insects biting me either!

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    1. I finally found a good organic insect repellent that is actually for dogs, but it works great on humans (in my experience). It’s by HOMS and it’s called PetFresh. It has an herbal smell, but it doesn’t bother me at all, and Tukker is not offended by it. I don’t put it on him, but I have on my dogs and myself and it works great for the awful Buffalo gnats that like to get in hair and bite around the face – especially ears.

      We will see how Tukker does this summer. Early on we saw him a lot on game cameras to the west and even at the river. But since that day FD found him at the river and Tukker followed him home, he’s stayed close to home. This time of year bucks tend to lay low, protecting their antlers, so maybe he’s spot on, doing what he feels led to do. He did get in a bit of trouble the other night when we saw him follow a very pregnant doe into the woods. The next thing we heard a huffing noise, and Tukker scampering back up the slope! Apparently mama-to-be is maybe setting up her nursery territory and she doesn’t want some little buck goofing around! I’m just fine with him hanging about, but we’ll see if I feel the same when those antlers are bigger and can do damage!

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    1. I think it must help. He has been going there a lot the last two weeks. I can’t help but think being around the herb and lettuce garden helps. Stinky herbs and good eats nearby have got to help!! And having parents with fingers to pick off ticks might make a difference too.

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    1. I find the Buffalo gnats the worst in these parts. For some reason they love to get around my ears, and before I know it my ears are on fire with burning and itching! Horse flies seem to be the worst for Tukker. I never had them bother me much but a couple of years ago I was out in the buggy near the old river channel and I was attacked by a large group of them while driving along. Oscar was with me and he yelped out in pain too! I have never had that happen again, but I am sure the wild critters must deal with all sorts of horrible insects.

      I’m sure you run into your share of biting insects. It’s the downside of spending a lot ot time outdoors.

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      1. Oh, it sure is the downside of being outdoors. The worst and most constant in Texas has to be chiggers. I’ve occasionally gotten dozens of chigger bites after a single outing in nature. Fire ants are also an occasional problem. Taking an antihistamine reduces the itching of both somewhat.

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        1. The year I worked down in the orchard, clearing downed branches and limbs, the chiggers were a nightmare! We mow up top on the immediate property and I don’t notice them so much here. For a couple of years Daisy deer and the local herd could be found bedded down in the pasture just south of the house, which we mow every two to three weeks. I often wonder if that is why we see so much wildlife near our home – maybe they understand that in the short grasses there are fewer insects.

          Fire ants (and even some stinging plants like nettles) have taught me to be on the lookout – where I’m walking or stepping. I also try to be aware of snakes, especially any copperheads, which are prevalent here.

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  2. This was a marvelous chapter of Tukker’s story. I didn’t know what to expect as the suspense built. Photos of foliage and flowers led to a peek at Tukker, and then the finale came with his portrait in the lair. Fantastic!

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    1. We were quite surprised to find him back there, but it truly is a great spot. Tukker is very attached to FD and follows him everywhere, and that is a prime spot for him to watch the activity of his human family.

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  3. It must be reassuring that he’s close to home for the moment.
    How are you doing with the current situation?
    We’re out of lockdown for five days now, waiting to see if there’s a second wave of virus.
    Stay well xxxx

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    1. Hi, Henrie! We do love having Tukker close to home. He’s getting plenty of good eats, and he’s growing some nice antlers, so he is on spot for a fawn of his age.

      We are in the beginning phases of getting back to normal. There is a lot of disagreement in the US about how quickly businesses should open up and what restrictions apply. Each state’s governor makes the decision about how the transition happens. Oklahoma was one of the first to lift restrictions, but I cannot say if it was a wise decision or not. I think most people are moving cautiously regardless of more liberties. Wait and see I guess!

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  4. Timmy was out eating my roses while still very young. He was immune to my yelling. I do not know how he could not hear me with those big ears. He stayed around for a long time.

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  5. Bless his heart and I must say he is quite a smart and resourceful fellow. I think it is so cute of him to be tucked into the greenery and right next to your house. But I keep thinking how awful that the deer must endure those blood sucking parasites. They must be awfully miserable during warm weather.

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  6. Nothing like a room with a view. Such cute picture of Tucker peeking out. (Laughed over your antlers’ comment…he might wonder why it’s getting more difficult slipping in his favorite spot as they grow. His visits may help discourage snakes from cuddling down in cool spots around the house?
    The gnats are already really bad – even Molly has jumped a few times on our walks around high weeds by the lake. I’m really allergic to them and fear their early arrival will mean I’ll be stuck inside earlier this year. 😦
    (Thanks for the heads up Chewy’s is iffy – early ordered dog food before getting too low. They have it but shipping is really slow now. Thanks)

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  7. Lucky Tukker to have a relatively safe and comfy hideaway and not far from an offered occasional tasty treat. Your description of the ticks on him reminded me of the misery that moose go through these last several years during the winter with the scourge winter ticks, sometimes by the hundreds per animal. It’s really decimating the population in northern New England.
    And lucky you to have him visiting often and staying nearby. He has such a sweet face, typical of deer of course, and must be a joy to have around.

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  8. Hi Lori, I have enjoyed reading your recent posts. The giant moths were amazing! I like the way Tukker makes use of familiar surroundings to keep cool and be free of biting blood, sucking insects for awhile. And there’s the added bonus of snacks!

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