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Who Was That Young Buck?

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

The whole time I watched my Christmas buck, the little voice was talking to me, tugging at my sleeve.

You know this boy. You know who he is. You know his mama.

I trust it won't sound silly to regular readers when I say his face looked familiar. After all, it's my self-proclaimed job to notice things. To make connections. To see a doe trying to cross the road at an odd time of day, and put it together that she's approaching a plaster lawn ornament wearing taped-on antlers that, in her hormonal haze, looks mighty fine to her.  Connecting the dots.

I studied the buck's face, his way of moving, and his behavior and yes. I know him. I know him from before.

Ellen the crooked doe showed up early this year, October 15, 2015. We were so glad to see her. Haven't seen her again, but we're waiting. She first showed up on our property in March 2009. She's getting on for a whitetail. We usually don't see her before November. But there was no mistaking her crooked face, even at a huge distance. Bill called it first as we stood in the tower, taking in the fall splendor. "That's got to be Ellen!"
The telephoto confirmed his hunch.


Here she is from January 29, 2015, her first appearance last winter. But then, it's been so warm this December, she probably hasn't missed her corn, and I haven't thrown any out yet. This photo comparison makes me smile. Compare her ears and the tilt of her head in this and the shot just above. Yep.


So, thinking out loud, I called up some photos of Ellen from February 2015. There she was with her son of the year, who'd been born in April or May 2014. 


She was pushing him around on this snowy cold day, wanting him out of her way. 


Bopping him with a front-hoof kick now and then. He didn't seem perturbed. And I saw something in this photo that made me stop.


 Look at the little buck's feet. See anything unusual?


What? The white lightning stripes between his toes? All my kids have those. Very astute of you, Zick.


Now, the 2014 buck would be about 19 months old right now. Let's take a look at him. Notice anything? Oh look. White lightning on his toes. Great big grin.


As I said in the last post, the number of tines on a buck's antlers aren't as indicative of his age as is his body structure. But I'm thinking this fine high 8-point rack is stretching it for a 19 month old buck, no matter how well-fed. It's not impossible but highly unlikely that a 19-month old buck would be this magnificently crowned. Let's look at another of Ellen's children, another buck, born May 2013. He'd be 2 1/2 years old now. 

True to form, Ellen's bopping him. First, she lays back her ears as best she can and gives him an ugly look.

January 31, 2014

Here's the windup...


And the kick. Bap! 



And bap! again!


I can't see much of his toes, the snow being deep and the angle wrong, but it looks to me like he might have a lightning stripe on his right rear foot in the photo above.

What I like about the 2013 model buckchild in the sequence above is his dark forehead. Darker than his mama's. The 2014 buck has a pale forehead. That dark forehead, and the white toe stripes...it makes me think.  He's awfully familiar, walks around the yard under the feeders as if he's been here before. Even though there was no corn when he visited, he went to all the spots where I used to throw it.


Wild things hold their secrets close. But if you're kind to them, and give them a reason to come visit, sometimes you can be privy to their secrets. I have a feeling this buck is Ellen's child.


February 16, 2015--A young buck visits, with fresh pedicels from antlers already dropped. Dark forehead-check.


White lightning--check. 





That was you, my beauty. Whenever you were born, I think your mama's Ellen. And I think that's why you come here for a snack of corn. Come again soon.

Hide when the hunters come in November. Come back out to see me when all is quiet.

 I'll tell your story as best I can.


And if you see Ellen, tell her I love her, and I said hello.


Will do, Nice Snack Lady With Large Tracts of Land.


7 comments:

Nice Snack Lady with Large Tracts of Land....hmmm, Science Chimp? Love it!

I knew that was one of Ellen's buck babies, but love all the tracking you've done to lay out the evidence. Time to break out the cracked corn...

Posted by Gail Spratley December 16, 2015 at 5:56 PM

Aw! I get such a charge out of being able to recognize individuals in various animal species. We don't have deer, but we have our squirrels, and it always brings me a jolt of pleasure to recognize "Bobtail" and "Mother Squirrel". (I know... such original names! lol....)

Nice thinking. I have a doe w/ white fur on top of nose hence "white nose". She's quite tame & waits for me to bring out corn. Often looks in window to remind me!!

It's a wonderful thing to know individual wild ones, to look at them long enough to recognize them. I hope Ellen returns this winter. Keep us posted!

I think we are all wearing big grins now!

Nice Snack Lady with Large Tracts of Land. Indeed! No snow but maybe time for a corn snack for Ellen's offspring! And maybe Ellen will drop by. I sure hope she's still around.

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