Thursday, November 18, 2010

Oh deer!

With cool fall days come cool fall rides. The kind of lazy rides where my horse and I have been working hard all summer and need to wind down. Lots of walking and bareback rides are always on the agenda. I love riding bareback in the colder months. Actually I love riding bareback in general but there's something ever so toasty about your bottom on a warm, fluffy horse back.

Of course with fall comes the harvesting of crops and with the harvesting of crops brings in all sorts of animals. Mice to houses, coyotes out of hiding and deer to the fields.
Corn fields in particular.

Last year I seen a total of three deer in total when riding.
One was a big buck that ran out of the field in front of us and darted around the corner out of sight.
The second and third if you have been reading this blog will remember our first ride out after Indigo lacerated her shoulder. We came to the horse eating bush. The horse eating bush should not be big enough for a deer to hide in but they did. Literally right next to us this HUGE buck exploded out of the horse eating bush, bounding away from us. It nearly gave both of us a heart attack. Not even fifteen feet later and a horse with a "get the hell out of dodge" mentality a second deer exploded out of the horse eating bush going in the same direction as the first deer. Indigo was completely beside herself. The anguish that bush causes that horse I am telling ya.

Normally Indigo is not afraid of deer unless they are rocketing themselves out of bushes or fields like someone lit a firecracker under their white tails. Just like cows she knows they run when she goes in their direction so they cause her no grief once she knows what they are. It's pretty easy for deer to hide themselves in a bush or forest but a harvested corn field?
Four times now just in the last week have deer been sleeping in whats left of the short cut corn stalks only to hear us crunching through the corn rows, jump up alarmed before bounding of. Talk about giving me and my spotty horse a heart attack. Normally she jumps back a couple steps then stops and stares intently as they bounce away. However these deer are either a) deaf b) really not afraid. I seem to be able to get really close to them before they jump up and head for the hills. About 100 feet or less.

Yesterday and the day before I have seen 4 deer together
oh deer

"Oh no! The deer eater is coming."

(The fourth was just off the image I did not see it until after) .
The day before yesterday they were grazing quietly under the turbine. Indigo stared at them with only a few double takes. They ran off

Oh deer2


except one that seemed oblivious to the fact I was there.

ph deer

We continued on.

Yesterday we were headed down the side of the field, almost to the end where there were a few acres mowed down really flat. Suddenly as I let Indigo stop to grab a corn husk stuck to a tall uncut stalk the four deer sprung up surprised about 50 feet away. Boy were we surprised too! I just about had a heart attack and Indigo jumped backwards a couple steps and bugged her eyes out. She quickly realized they were deer and resumed her corn husk munching. Two split off in the direction of the small bush and the other two were gone someplace in a neighboring ditch. We rode around the field without further incidence of more jumping up.

On the weekend I was out in the corn field riding Indigo bareback when she suddenly snapped her head around fast enough to give herself whiplash. There not 20 feet away was this little deer. It was small, probably adolescent, had no horns and I really did think upon first glance it was the neighbors mamoth black lab. But no, it was a deer. A nearly black deer. We both stared for a long time. It didn't move and it was so close to us! Then the neighbor came down the lane on his four wheeler and it ran to the first bush, dark, dark brown and no white tail.

(Image of the dark deer courtesy of google images)

If the neighbor hadn't seen it I would have thought I was nuts. But he seen it too and confirmed it with me as I met him on his way back that he seen the deer, but not me on the big white horse across the field. I thought it was really peculiar but didn't put much more thought into it other than possibly thinking it was a genetic mutate.

Then on Monday I seen it again in almost the same spot only it was standing already. We were far enough away it did not run right away but it stared at us with interest before bounding off, characteristic white tail, without a white tail. So a phone conversation last night got me thinking, what if it really was some sort of genetic mutate?

I looked it up and apparently there are such a thing as black deer. Well not black but melanistic.
A melanistic deer means it's a deer that creates excessive melanin, making most of it's body a very dark, sometimes black colour rather than the traditional tan a white tailed deer exhibits.

According to a hunting site:
"Melanistic whitetails are very rare, even more rare than piebald or albino deer. You can recognize a melanistic deer because their bodies produce far too much of the pigment known as melanin which makes them much darker than your average whitetail. Of the millions of deer taken each year only a few with melanism have been reported. Most people don't know they exist due to the extreme rarity, making a melonistic buck a true trophy. "

Some have white tails, some do not (being a white tail deer). This one did not that is what struck me so odd. Normally their white tails flashing as they bound off is such an eye catcher but both times this little guy was alone and bounded off without so much of a fluff of white.
I really hope no one shoots it. I don't think they would as most are after bucks and their horns. What a neat little guy this deer is. There really are very few sites talking about melanistic deer so hes kind of a mystery. I wonder, will there be more black deer in the future like this one if he/she survives long enough to have babies? Only time (and luck of seeing them) will tell.


lisa said...

I would love that! Company ;)

Jeni said...

Wow NEVER seen a black deer before. I have seen Piebald and albino. When I was a kid we had this massive albino buck that frequented our apple orchard... talk about cool to see.

Horses and bushes... wth? I mean a jumbo jet can fly right over head and all we do is a bit of vibrating and watching.. But those damned bushes make us want to run like the wind.

Fantastyk Voyager said...

That's very interesting. I'd never heard of a melanistic deer before. The word just sounds so strange.

Your post reminded me of a time when I was driving in the car with my children. A deer crossed the road right in front of our car and I braked really hard yelling "Oh deer!...Deer!!...DEER!!!" as a second and then a third deer quickly crossed in front of the car. For a few seconds, my kids didn't know what was happening because the deer had already gone when they looked up. I guess they thought I was calling them. Now they tease me about braking hard and yelling "Oh Deer!" at nothing.

allhorsestuff said...

Oh, I was laughing pretty hard at the Bush that eats horses!We have a simular bush that gets the EYEBALL every-stinkin-time we go by eating birds.

Those different deer sound so cool...and to see so many,as you have of late..woo! My last barn..we had 5-7 "deer parade" by the stall every night..and riding in and about..we'd see them... but they were so used to use..they rarely jumped or ever ran.

GROUSE...they are what get us...they are a fluttery, spastic, kind of birds..don't think they can really fly...but they REALLY make tons of noise, trying to...2-3 at a time ..then 2 to 3 more...just when you think you flushed em all out- 2 more will have a go at this spastic flight...
real good for desensitizing!

Lovely rides you are having...we are windy, soaked and soon to be snowed was the only day I may have ridden..worked.

Hope your "Oh deer" rides all seated one!

Jen said...

And here I thought I almost had a coronary over Elwood the rabbit popping up suddenly at my feet - a deer would've done me in for sure!

juliette said...

Great post - I love to see deer when I ride. They are more brave if I don't talk - like they think it is just the horse and them. I can't believe that black deer - very cool!

Laura M. said...

I had no idea there were dark deer. What a neat thing to find on your rides! We have a few deer that pass through our farm every evening... and the horses are always looking for them around dusk as we're working in the ring. One of the loops I used to ride when I exercised chasers was a popular place for a deer herd, something like 15-20 of them usually.

DarcC said...

The melanistic deer is really neat, I didn't know they happened like that. I have however seen many melanistic gray squirrels, they are jet black. Apparently, whenever the mutation shows up in the squirrel population in a new place it sticks around, they think the darker color helps it stay warmer in the winter. So maybe eventually all gray squirrels will be black. I wonder how the black deer do, are they outcast or do they have an advantage?

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