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It’s in your nature: Surprising and unusual deer

The white-tailed deer is our state mammal, the third largest mammal here, and the most hunted animal in the state. When we recall our knowledge of deer, we know that now is the peak of the breeding season (rut), they generally give birth to two fawns about 200 days from then, and male deer grow antlers, not horns. Antlers, of course, are shed each year, with generally a new and larger set of antlers as the deer matures.

“Whitetails” are born spotted and all deer lose their winter coats of hollow hairs in late March or April and regrow a more reddish-brown coat for the warmer months. About the beginning of September a gradual shedding surprising and unusual deer of that reddish fur occurs, which again is replaced by that more gray/brown “winter outfit.”

Deer have excellent senses of smell and hearing with great eyesight both day and night. The downside of seeing well in the dark has left them basically color blind, as a hunter wearing blaze orange can relate to. All of this info is basically the “norm” for deer.

I have included in this week’s column photographs I have taken and supplemented with a few trail cam pictures that all reveal some things you may not see as the norm. One photo may appear very troubling and I will caution you on that beforehand. Hopefully my photo collection will give you an idea of some oddities and/or quirks of which you may not be aware. Enjoy …

Remember late October and the first two weeks of November are the times when most deer are killed on our roadways. For your safety and the deer herd, be cautious driving at dusk, dawn, at night and even during the day while the deer are in “rut.”

Test Your Outdoor Knowledge: True/false, both woodchucks and skunks are true hibernators.

Last Week’s Trivia Answer: This year is certainly a great time to note that leaf color is not dependent on freezing temperatures. As of Nov. 2, we still have had no frosts or freezes and many of the leaves have already fallen.

Contact Barry Reed at breed71@gmail.com.

Sometimes deer overcome some physical challenges rather well. I saw this buck, blind in one eye, over a 4-month period and seemed to be adapting well.
Not too common, but sad to see, this doe has developed cutaneous fibromas. These growths, only on its skin, are caused by a papillomavirus. It is seldom fatal but very unsightly. This was a trail cam photo taken last year and I think I saw this same deer recently with fewer growths on its body. BARRY REED/SPECIAL TO THE TIMES NEWS
Looking very gaunt, but still healthy, a doe nursing twin fawns will lose considerable weight and minerals. However, after weaning its fawns it fortunately has months of browsing until harsh winter sets in.
ABOVE: A fawn is born spotted to help it blend in with the patches of sunlight reaching the forest floor. This very young fawn “plopped down” and did its best to leave almost no outline. Imagine how unlikely a pure albino fawn can survive trying its best to hide its all white body on a brown forest floor.
LEFT: This is a photo of a piebald deer taken near Parryville. Less than 1 percent of “whitetails” are piebald. The amount of white varies from individual to individual.
If a deer survives: predators as a fawn, EHD (blue tongue), hunters, harsh winters, branches damaging its velvet antlers, and crossing streets and highways, it may attain the majestic look of this East Penn Township buck.
This March trail cam photo shows another variation of a piebald deer, note its white feet.
ABOVE: This “spike buck” displays an adaptation most don't notice. Deer, in order to absorb more of the sun's heat in very cold winters, have a dark edge on the rim of their ears.
RIGHT: Sometimes a buck damages one of its antlers while in velvet, leaving a malformed antler like this one to develop.
This trail cam photo captured a deer “drubbing” another too close to “its” food. However, you may know that in winter especially, deer will stand on their back feet to reach higher browse to survive in deep snows.
One of my trail cameras captured this odd looking doe two years ago. This variation of a piebald deer had only a white face making it look goat-like.