Tukker, the orphaned buck fawn we raised in 2019, and released January 16th of 2020, spent most of the spring enjoying his freedom. He never ventured far, though we knew he had crossed through barbed wire fencing, as his back was scraped to the point it was often more bloody than hair-covered. Fortunately, at some point, Tukker finally learned to jump the fences. We also observed him tagging along with other deer, but getting the usual hoofing by a protective doe or a dominant buck. Over the years, we have learned this process is part of the establishment of the pecking order, as occurs with most all animal life. And, as other orphans before him, Tukker endured it all and kept trying.
Still, we knew Tukker preferred to spend most days in his lair – a quiet area under the kitchen window of our home. Here, he was tucked in a thicket of shrubs near my herb garden on the north side of our house. Tukker’s lair offered him a light, cool breeze, shade, and a fairly insect-free existence, close to food and water… and his human family.
By August, we began seeing photos of Tukker more frequently on game cameras down in the canyon and off into the pecan orchard. Gradually, those photos showed him keeping company with another young buck, maybe a year older than he. As Tukker’s antlers grew and his body thickened, it became apparent he was every bit as big as his older friend. Many times, the two of them showed up in the evening to eat from the feeders in the canyon. We found it interesting that Tukker’s friend did not seem to be wary of us. He never came very close, but would stay nearby while Tukker came up top to visit his folks and have a quick snack of apple or carrot (or both). Game cameras also revealed nighttime activity where Tukker and his friend were part of a small group of bucks. This was a very good sign! Tukker had managed to become a member of the local bachelor group of bucks taking part in normal herding activity before the rutting season.
In early September, both Tukker and his friend shed the dried velvet from their antlers. And by late September, both bucks had bulked up with thick necks and robust bodies. We no longer saw the two of them with the larger group of bucks and Tukker often showed up with small gouges and wounds around his face and neck. These were signs of normal sparring activity, as was the bucks beginning to venture out on their own, and breaking away from the bachelor group.
Tukker no longer looks like my little fawn buck, but a mature, stately, quiet and gentle beast. Occasionally, he comes for a snack in the evenings, but mostly, we see him on game cameras enjoying the primarily nighttime activity of a wild, woodland buck. It will be interesting to see if he ventures very far off during the rutting season, which is just around the corner in our area. Sometimes a buck will cover miles in search of females and will vie with other bucks along the way, introducing the possibility of injury or even death. And, though our property is protected and we have the lease on the neighboring property all of the way to the river, we cannot completely protect Tukker from being hunted. Here, hunting season for deer runs from October 1 through January 15th.
Like it was with Daisy, and Emma, and Ronnie as they made their own ways into the wild herd and the woodland world, I find myself cherishing each and every visit from Tukker.
© 2020 Day by Day the Farm Girl Way…