The first frost at the CVEEC was last weekend and, after arriving at the center bright and early, I was determined to get some pictures of the beautiful fall leaves outlined with miniature icicles. As I was bent down, hunched over the little collection of leaves pictured below, I heard one of my fellow interns say "Uhm......Karie?!" in quite an urgent and panicked tone.
When I looked up, I noticed that a yearling buck with one spike was walking in a quite determined fashion directly towards me and was only a few feet away! In my moment of panic, as I'm not normally approached by deer, I left my coffee mug by the small pile of leaves and ran behind the other interns in the parking lot. The young buck no longer seemed interested in me, but was much more intrigued by the delicious aroma seeping from my coffee mug. He must have been a fan of Starbucks Breakfast Blend, my coffee of choice, because he stuck out his big deer tongue and licked my coffee mug from bottom to top! I was so surprised, and sad that he was eliminating my caffeine fix for the morning, that I squealed. He immediately turned and ran, but I was able to snap a picture before he could get too far!
White-tailed Deer--Odocoileus virginianus
In honor of the spike horn that licked my coffee that fateful day, I'm going to share a few pieces of evidence I have found of deer around the CVEEC. The picture on the bottom left is a buck rub that I found along a trail while hiking with some kids during class. These are always exciting to find as they mean the deer mating season, or the rut, is getting closer! Male deer often rub trees with their antlers in response to growing testosterone levels during mating season. As their testosterone levels rise, aggression starts to build and the of rubbing trees helps get that aggression out as well as strengthen neck muscles. Strong neck muscles are important both visually and physically during mating season. These buck rubs are also important in hierarchy and competition between males because dominant males leave a stronger scent on the rub by way of rubbing a gland located on their forehead on the tree. The picture on the right is two deer tracks that some of my students found as we were hiking along a trail on CVEEC property. After looking closely at the tracks, we determined the deer was headed off to the right of the frame.
White-tailed Deer Buck Rub White-tailed Deer Tracks