We’ve lived in our house in Maine for 38 years. White-tailed Deer are common, but I rarely see them. They eat my flowers, I see tracks, droppings, and signs of browse, but that’s about it. We have a large field in front of our house, surrounded by woods. Once in a blue moon, a single deer can be glimpsed at the very edge of the meadow, barely out of the woods, but they are very skittish around here, unlike in the suburbs.
On the evening of March 30, four deer emerged from the woods and came some way out into the meadow.
I was, of course, beside myself with excitement. I crept around a corner of the house, and grabbed a few shots, and then something alerted them, and up went the tail:
One was so panicked it crawled underneath the belly of a larger deer,
and off they went:
The tail is a very effective danger signal, even if only glimpsed at speed.
White-tailed deer, Odocoileus virginianus, the only species of deer in New England, can be up to 3 1/2 feet at the shoulder, and weigh up to 400 pounds. A group like this is probably a mother, last year’s fawns, and perhaps even a fawn from the previous year. The fawns are born in June. The following summer, they will leave to forage on their own, but they will return to spend the winter with her, and perhaps even the following winter.
In New England, deer are often considered pests, and they are widely hunted. But if they were on the plains of Africa, tourists would badger their guides for photo opportunities of those glorious tails.
P.S. I have since seen a lone deer, on two separate occasions, out in the woods when I was was walking quietly alone. Perhaps the rarity of my sightings means my particular woods aren’t really very good deer habitat?? I don’t know.