Monday, January 25, 2010

Oh, Deer! And Hidden Turkey Too...

Deer! Yesterday afternoon me and Bort followed some sounds which I thought had been ducks by the pond. We both slowly, quietly step by step made our way towards the pond in hopes to see some wild ducks, but when we got there we saw nothing at all but water. We decided to keep going up through the orchard into the woods to see if it had been wild turkeys instead...
when we got to the edge of a stream and looked up there were three beautiful deer grazing on the mountain WITH a group of about 5 wild turkeys! All together. Which as I took pictures and moved in closer, it dawned on me that we were also now a part of this moment where deer, turkeys and humans were sharing the same space in nature - where nothing much was going to take place that was dangerous to any of us. My mind stood still and raced back in time to wonder if mankind and deer ever used to sit in the same forest casually, before things were hunted to near extinction for sport... before the animals became utterly terrified that all we ever would do were bad things to them. I imagined there was a time when we humans were more likely not to kill them, and they were more likely to trust in that. When the scales tipped, evolution taught them to run from us. Certainly the deer were not running from the turkey. ;)
In these pictures with the pink stars, I have put the pink star mark above each deer standing in the woods frozen... they are extremely difficult to spot unless they are moving and flip up their tail to show the white in warning to other deer nearby that there is serious danger.
You can't see the turkeys in the pictures, but what was really awesome was the turkeys were taking cues from the deer about safety - walking when they walked, relaxing when they relaxed and freezing when a deer walked then suddenly froze to check out the humans.
After what seemed like 10 minutes or more, the deer began moving along the trail together - but not usually walking at the same time. One would go...pause...another would go...pause... and so on, till they were out of sight. When I heard some yipping and howling right then, I though "oh shit, now the coyotes are coming for the turkeys!" and began moving swiftly away. It turned out to just be a neighbor's dog though howling alone at his house. :)


Panne said...

deer in this country were never hunted to near extinction. there are actually a lot more deer now than when europeans arrived. this is a result of humans wiping out their natural predators. in some places the deer populations are so high and hunting laws are so restrictive that the excessive populations of deer are dying from starvation.

hunting replaces what nature did with predators. unfortunately hunting has declined due to folks paying someone else to murder their meat and the convenience of having it in a plastic tray. the decline in hunting and over population in some areas is a direct result of clueless individuals passing laws to save bambi, without taking into account sustainability and reality, much less biology and other scientific information. hard to do when you live in cartoon land.

anyone that thinks hunting should be outlawed because it is no longer necessary because you can get meat in a plastic tray needs to take a road trip with me. you'll change you tune when you ride through neighborhoods where your safety is at risk stepping out your door. you might lose your mind if i bring you to a place with thousands of deer slowly starving to death.

though it is obvious they are suffering and need to be put down, the laws implemented by the save the fluff bunny idiots don't allow it. personally i'd like to take each of them out and make them sit in the cold for a few weeks with no food, forcing them to watch the results of their stupidity.

Leslie's Gone Oko said...

Hey Panne -

Look up over-hunting for the western north carolina region. Many of the animals here including the native deer and black bears were hunted to the point of nearly being wiped out (i was speaking region specific, not all of America, but also about animals in general)- the native wolf was completely killed off here, we only have coyotes now.And there used to be a mountain lion, sometimes called a "Lynx" as described by historical writers (see "Southern Highlanders") which is only reported now in rare sightings & hearing the lion cry, but with no photos to back it up.(I have heard it once and talked to farmers who have seen or heard them- extremely rare).
Here in WNC we don't have animal over population invading our backyards and taking over in the cities like most of America. Seeing animals out here is more rare.
Another reason deers and animals are starving in some U.S regions is because of diseases affecting the trees/foliage/flora which provide their food - like when the American Chestnut was wiped out many animals in the food chain lost their primary source of food. And threats to Oak trees now too cause further problems because acorns were the back-up for the loss of chestnuts.
(and to come full circle, loss of the wolf, causes more deer problems for various US regions.)

"George Washington sought to 'civilize' friendly Southeastern American Indians, through programs overseen by Indian Agent Benjamin Hawkins. The first step was convincing them abandon their communal land-tenure and settle on isolated farmsteads, facilitated by the destruction of many American Indian towns during the American Revolutionary War. The deerskin trade brought native white-tailed deer to the brink of extinction, and as pigs and cattle were introduced, they became the principle sources of meat."

Hunting for food is obviously different and would strike a better balance on many levels (earth health and human health)- but over population and modern lifestyles have caused things to change in ways beyond our understanding.
The people trying to save the animals specifically may be somewhat mis-guided but saving the animals isn't the main reason for the deer starvation. What needs to be taken care of are our human habits, or rather habitats so that we can learn to facilitate balance. Concentrating on only saving one animal is akin to taking one specific vitamin, causing other things in the system to become out of wack & imbalanced. It is the eco system as a whole that needs to be cared for, lived with.
We can't care for only tiny pieces, but the whole thing.

PS- thanks for starting such a great discussion. :)

Gretta said...

People in biltmore kill them because they destroy their landscaping. That makes sense to me... Move someplace because of the nature and beauty and then kill off said nature because it eats your manicured shrubs.

Panne said...

there is a small population of red wolves now in the carolinas due to reintroduction. many mistake them for coyotes.

in some areas i will agree that the deer population was nearly wiped out over a century ago. today is a much different story. just because you don't see them doesn't mean they aren't there. rule number one, you must be stealthier than the animal you're trying to track, lol. you're one of the few i know that is...

the reason you see them is because you're out in the woods more than most and nobody is hunting in your immediate area. if i was a deer i'd be hanging out at your house eating your apples too....

wiped out native food sources, inferior nutrition of mutated farmed crops, lack of predators, toxic crap everywhere, lack of natural selection, etc etc all play a big part. unfortunately the system makes it hard for folks that hunt to do their part.

bureaucrats seem to think everything is solved in an office by stupidity and over complicating situations to unrealistic standards. they'd have better luck standing on their heads, whistling dixie while gargling peanut butter.

Leslie's Gone Oko said...

Gretta - Biltmore sucks. Those people unfortunately love nature, at an arms length... kind of like loving a photo of the mountain view hanging over your fireplace more then touching the mountain itself.
Almost off topic, but have you ever been to the Biltmore house for X-mas?? What a flipping nightmare that place was- busing tons of people into the giant mansion- so many people smashed into hallways, i could hardly breathe and had a horrible anxiety attack which caused me to start jumping over the velvet roped off areas while being yelled at by workers who are paid tiny amounts to keep us all in perfect dignified order. I asked them if they wanted to "clean up my puke" and kept running towards the door! Viewing extravagance takes serious order! ;)
Hence, I dont like Biltmore.
Those hedges the deer are eating are not even native.

Leslie's Gone Oko said...

Panne - lol. I would like to see that. Well the head stand and whistling dixie - not the peanut butter. :)

It's good to know they introduced the red wolves here - i wonder where? I will have to look it up in case i ever encounter one.

Panne said...

Leslie's Gone Oko said...

Thanks for the info/link. I wonder if we have any that migrated into counties here?

Panne said...

not sure if they are moving into other areas. they are monitored really close. they all have tracking devices that are fancy enough to tell them if the animal is alive. they've been recapturing some and swapping them out to keep the genetics straight. there were barely enough that weren't hybridized with coyote to save them and not screw up the genetics.

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