On the drive up from downstate we saw deer feeding in cornfields where the snow is partly melted. Not just one or two deer, but dozens and dozens all trying to glean in fields already pretty picked over.
This was the scene on Long Lake in the early morning on March 15th. It was 20 degrees and the wind was blowing fiercely.
These four came from the area where the peninsula juts out and creates our little bay and headed across the lake to where reeds grow in the summer. No reeds today. In fact, nothing at all vegetative for deer to eat on the lake.The group paused around ice blocks left behind by fisherman. Nothing to eat there either.They headed to the narrows.
The March snow is wet. It’s the best packing snow of the year. This snowman practically rolled himself. Setting his midsection in place was tough. He’s mostly water, after all. Forgive his headgear. Some snowmen will let people put anything on their head and call it a hat. He’s wearing a keyhole scarf knitted of Malabrigo worsted, but he’s too stout of neck to use the keyhole.
Four hungry deer browsed on the property for twenty minutes, mostly under the bird feeders. These two were the most bold. Or the most hungry. One mostly stood like a sentinel at the lake’s edge and browsed on our neighbor’s cedar tree. The herd eventually moved on, only to be replaced by three more deer. The newcomers nibbled on sunflower seeds. One walked up to the snowman and chewed for a bit on his left arm. Not any sustenance there. He tried to eat the pine cone buttons, but had to settle for just making off with a pine cone eye.
This doe paused after two companions made it safely across County Road 459. Then she decided to bound out into the road just as Steve’s car was close by. She seemed to spot his car but proceeded anyway. After all, these creatures do not have many road savvy IQ points.
The doe, Steve, and his Subaru Forester are none the worse for the close encounter.
In 2012, Michigan continued to be one of the top-ranked states for numbers of deer-car crashes. Only West Virginia, Iowa and South Dakota had us beat. Michigan drivers had a 1 in 72 chance of hitting a deer that year. Read more here, at the MIchigan Deer Crash Coalition website.
Remember, when there’s one there’s likely more than one. They are herd animals, after all. And the catch phrase is “don’t veer for deer.” Otherwise a property damage accident and a deer death can too easily turn into a bodily injury accident or even a people death.
November has been so mild that we’ve been able to continue our paddles into Ghost Bay. In fact, it was 60 degrees and sunny on Thanksgiving and we spent time on the water, including in Ghost Bay. It was mid-November when this doe reclined at the water’s edge in Ghost Bay. She was definitely aware of our presence. Those big ears of hers were twitching and she was watching us as we approached. But she seemed confident she was too camouflaged to be in danger.
We watched her for several minutes. Steve was busy snapping photos. At some point, we must have pushed just beyond her tolerance. She stood up and ran away. Just about all that could be clearly seen was her white tail bouncing up the embankment.
Isn’t she a beauty? She was alert to our presence, how could she not be, what with those gigantic ears of hers? But she still let us have a good long look at her.
Steve and the zoom feature on his camera lens captured her so clearly that I feel compelled to tell you that this white-tailed deer is not part of a natural history museum diorama. She is standing on the west end of Long Lake’s Ghost Bay on a crisp late fall morning.