Journey Behind A White-Tail!

Hunters spotting white-tailed deer wearing bright orange collars with big yellow tags in their ears can be assured that they are not dressed for Halloween but have been

Unusual photo of a deer and his wildlife friends. Note the tag in his ear.

selected for a study that has been underway for sometime revealing the movement of these creatures in Pennsylvania. One deer, who wasn’t named, but rather given the number 8917, was chosen at Bald Eagle State Forest and was under surveillance for two years.

I’ve decided to name this fellow and am calling him, “Swifty.” Their swift, graceful movements have always impressed me as every year we watch some of “Swifty’s cohorts” make our yard one of their favorite pastures. When chosen for this study,”Swifty” was an adult buck. You’ve probably already guessed that the use of a GPS makes these projects possible. In order to allow the GPS to be placed around his neck, “Swifty” was darted with a tranquilizer gun and when he awoke he was ready to be part of an interesting project. By the way, hunters are asked not to harvest deer wearing orange collars, other deer, also part of the study, but wearing brown collars, may be harvested.

We’ve all become fans of the GPS. Nearly everyone of us puts one to use when planning a trip. With the information it supplies us, we are able to drive right to our

The collar can be clearly seen in this photo.

The collar can be clearly seen in this photo.

location’s door step. The GPS worn by “Swifty” works the same way ours do. His collar receives a signal from a satellite, then a computer communicates with each GPS collar to retrieve movement data that is stored in the collar’s memory. It is interesting to see graphs showing “Swifty’s” movements, but what was learned did not surprise me. It was pretty boring because he basically bopped around a core home range of under one square mile. And this is where the deer spends most of his time throughout the year.

At our house we feel certain we are seeing the same deer day after day, our headlights catching them eating grass in our yard at night. They eat more than grass, much more. I’m sure it’s the same deer we seeing eating apples under the

He may be hard to see among the plants, but when he leaves, damage is clearly visible.

He may be hard to see among the plants, but when he leaves, damage is clearly visible.

neighbor’s tree, and the hoof prints in my flower beds attest to them savoring a varied diet. This year they especially were fond of my roses. (If I were a deer that’s probably what I would choose, too.) There are very few plants they don’t like. My Hosta plants are constantly being pruned to the ground. Chrysanthemums remain untouched. Some think the deer may be coming nocturnal, only coming out at night, but here we see them both day and night. Rather the studies will prove this to be true is yet to be seen. I must say I have found a spray that will discourage the deer from feeding in my garden. It’s called Liquid Fence, but you do have to remember to use it every few days. It’s scent would turn anyone away from a garden that should smell good.

I must confess I do get disgusted with the deer and can’t help but be concerned about the ticks they carry. But every year when hunting season arrives, I know with certainty that many of our white-tailed friends will be harvested, that is unless they are smart like “Swifty” was. His study shows deer that survive the rifle season have a special hiding place. Usually on the top of a ridge where the prevailing wind from the west will let them know when danger approaches and where they can quickly jump off the side of the ridge and escape. “Swifty” was followed through two hunting seasons.

Except for his moseying round the same, small area, his movements became nonstop during the rut (breeding season). This lasts during October and November.

It’s interesting to watch the graphs designating his movements back and forth over his core home range. But, one day “Swifty” did the unpredictable, once in June he visited

This graph shows the deer's movements, mainly in a small area.

This graph shows the deer’s movements, mainly in a small area.

the far northern ridge outside of his home range, then never visited it again. However, there was another long range move. During a 12 hour period he traveled over 5 miles and over a mile in elevation. In the two years “Swifty’s” movements were monitored, he returned to this far away spot. After that, his movements were no longer detected. No one knows why, but he had picked this spot to die.

I know my husband will say, “what a terrible way to end your blog.” And I am sorry, but two to three years is the average deer’s life span. If some consolation, if he happened to be one of those deer that settled in my yard, he had a lovely place to live and a very, varied diet.

You haven’t heard from me in some time and I’ve missed hearing from you. So please write with your comments.

“Deer Restricted,” Huh?”


I thought my husband wasn’t remembering correctly when he said that his grandfather had to raise his fences from eight to ten feet in order to keep the deer out of his strawberries.

Couldn't build a fence high enough.

Couldn’t build a fence high enough.

He was Albert Morris, who for years raised strawberries in Sweet Valley, PA. I felt doubtful that deer could jump over fences eight feet tall. To me, that seemed awfully high. Then I checked the internet and found that the white tail deer are able to jump not 5, 7, 8 or 12 feet but 15 feet high. Wouldn’t that be a sight to see? The deer, however, prefer to go through, around or under a fence, unless of course they are being chased by a dog or coyote.

Until recent years, I have always loved the white tail deer. Lately, though, there is an overdeer restricted 2abundance of them and I have great difficulty keeping them from destroying my flower gardens. If I were to plant pansies, which I have done many years about this time, the deer grab the plant in their mouths and uproot it completely. Then all through the summer they find nearly all my flowers very tasty, even the rose bushes.

People here have always been impressed with the beauty of the white tail and its swift,

The car I remember was tan color. See the spotlight? on the

The car I remember was tan color. See the spotlight?

running ability. Years ago, they were not so plentiful and my boyfriend and I, (now my husband) would travel the country roads in his 1941 Ford spotting deer. I’m not sure this was legal, but attached to the driver’s side of the Ford was a large, shiny spot light put there for that purpose. To get the light installed a hole was drilled through the corner post of the car. An added twist to this story is the fact that his grandparents, Albert and Maude Morris, gave the spotlight light to him as a high school graduation gift. Many men used the spot lights to search out deer prior to hunting season, but that was not our reason for doing it. It was a challenge to find them feeding in open fields. We stayed away from houses. We didn’t think a spot light illuminating their property would go over very well.

During the summers, as we turn into our driveway, our headlights reveal at least a half deer restricted 3dozen of them out to pasture in our yard. I’ve always marveled at their beauty but lately my love for them has waned and I am sure you know why. Not all deer are infected with ticks, but many are and these ticks transmit Lyme Disease. I read where roughly 20,000 people are affected by the disease. I have heard of many cases and because it is a inflammatory disease it spreads to the joints, nervous system and other organs. If diagnosed and treated early with antibiotics Lyme Disease is almost always readily cured. But I have talked to some who were not fortunate enough to catch it early.

There are many guidelines on how to protect our families from this. But isn’t it shameful that we can no longer trust our children to be safe in public places and now, in our own back yards. Some of the guidelines include avoiding wooded, bushy areas and high grass, do a complete full body check on yourself, children and pets and carry bug spray.

There may be some parts of the country that are less infected and some where the deer restricted 6problem is far greater than here in Pennsylvania. While living there throughout the winter, I saw something of interest in Florida. It was a sign placed at the entrance of a beautiful housing compound. It read. “Deer Restricted.” I wondered how this could be, then noticed the whole development was surrounded with a tall, concrete wall.

To digress a bit here, did you read the story about a wild deer breaking into the lion exhibit at the Smithsonian Park National Zoo? What did the lions do? They did what came naturally. They pursued it until they were called back into their enclosure. They were highly trained lions. The main reason for ending their hunt was because the deer might spread disease to the zoo animals. The lions’ hunt for live prey deer restricted 5ended, but the injured deer couldn’t be saved.

I don’t like ending Shirl And You on a negative note but this subject does not end here. A quick-moving, potentially fatal virus has been found in the Northeast and Great Lakes areas of the U.S. It is carried and transferred to people and pets by ticks. The Powassan virus causes similar symptoms but more severe and without any cure. The disease is quite rare, but doctors are urging people to do everything they can to prevent being infected. Everyone is being encouraged to look up procedures on how to correctly remove ticks and to be on

Just couldn't resist showing you this sign.

Just couldn’t resist showing you this sign.

guard for them. How can the beautiful, harmless creatures of yesteryear become something to fear today? Do you have a story to tell on this subject. I’d love to hear from you.