Game Warden

Show us your deer...

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Posted (edited)

All the rutting amongst the roe that is just starting at this time of year is of course to produce kids; it is one of those curious things about our deer that roe give birth to kids, fallow produce fawns and red deer produce calves, having said that fawn is a perfectly acceptable name for the young of most deer species. I guess the use of kid for young roe is another reflection of their slight resemblance to goats. Roe does very commonly give birth to twins or even sometimes triplets, the kids are normally born around the end of May or early June. As with many deer and antelope species the young when first born have very little scent, so that when their mothers need to go off and feed and leave their kids hidden in long grass or other vegetation it is difficult for predators to find them. Roe kids are also covered in white spots to help camouflage them, in woodland undergrowth, if a doe has twins she will leave them in different spots so that if a predator does get lucky it should only find one and not both of them. The does will leave their kids for quite long periods before returning to them and this behaviour goes on for two months, this is much longer than in other UK deer species, this keeps them safe from the predators we do still have, which are basically only red foxes amongst our wildlife but of course domestic dogs are obviously a danger. However this strategy exposes them to another risk, which is well meaning but ignorant people who stumble across them while out on a country walk, think that their mothers have completely abandoned them and so pick them up and deliver them to their nearest wildlife rescue centre, totally unaware that the mother was nearby and will return later to find her kid gone. They are also at risk of suffering a far worse fate, some kids if they’re left in agricultural fields may be killed by agricultural machinery, as they will sit tight rather than get up and run and if they do get up, may not be able to move fast enough to get out of the way.

 

Roe kids in a maize crop, these kids are between 1.5 - 2 months old and are beginning to lose their white spots 

 

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Roe kids are weaned at 4 months and stay with their mothers for around a year until a couple of weeks prior to giving birth to her next kids and then she will drive them away. Unlike any other deer species, to see to it that their kids are born at the right time roe deer employ diapause or delayed implantation so while the rut is taking place now at the end of July and early August, the embryos won’t be implanted until late December early January, the kids are then born usually around the end of May the beginning of June.

Edited by inyathi
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White-tailed Deer - or more accurately Does - at the Yawkey Wildlife Center in coastal South Carolina.

 

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I meant to carry on up dating this thread but then for some reason I stalled, so I will now carry on where I left off, with some more shots of western roe deer taken at home in England.

 

Last summer just after I decided to update this thread I thought I’d see I could take a few new deer shots, setting off in the late afternoon at the beginning ofJuly, I headed for a field next to a wood where I can almost guarantee there will be at least one roe deer, usually more. I walked up to the top of a hill and then a short distance to the corner of the field, went over to the fence expecting to spot a deer but saw nothing. Deciding that it looked like there were no deer there, I walked along the fence to get to suitable place where I could climb over, concentrating on not catching myself on the barbed wire or dropping my camera, I carefully crossed into the field, only to find just as I was putting my foot down, that there was in fact a group of four deer just a few feet away beyond some long grass, that I had completely failed to notice. A buck, a doe and two big kids, I had no option but to just try and crouch down behind the grass and hope they hadn’t spotted me. Of course, the buck had seen me and didn’t think he liked what he saw, I tried to keep still but inevitably when you have to freeze you’re always in a not very comfortable position, I hoped if I kept still he might not be able to see enough of me and would settle down. At the same time, I was hoping I might be able to get a couple of shots before they spooked, however my autofocus kept fixing on the waving grass stems and not the deer. I managed to take one shot which I assumed would be a dud and then attempted to reposition myself to get a clear shot free of the grass, as I did so the buck looked in my direction, gave a loud bark and bounded off, followed by the other three.

 

In fact, my one photo turned out OK

 

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Cursing my carelessness, I decided to keep walking out across the field and then over to the wood, I didn't find anything else to photograph inside the wood, but on returning much later to the field, I found that the deer had in fact come back and I was able to take a number of photos, however they were quite some distance away, and the following crop of the doe and her kid was the nicest shot I took.

 

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The next time, when I went back to the same field a few days later, I made sure I was a lot more careful and approached the fence from behind some small trees. In the late evening, positioning myself against one of the trees I had a slightly more successful time and was able to get some nice shots of the same two well grown kids from last year, that I’d seen on my previous visit.

 

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Satisfied that I had probably obtained some good photos, I also took a short video.

 

 

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On ‎06‎.‎03‎.‎2013 at 1:37 PM, GreenEye said:

Trying again, wasn't going through...

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Great Picture, it is the first Kansu deer I have seen in colour. Where exactly was it?

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After taking those shots of the roe kids the buck put in an appearance again albeit quite far away.

 

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Then walking through another small bit of woodland on my way home, I surprised a different buck out in the next-door field, because he was out in the open I had a good view between the trees, he on the other hand couldn’t see me that well. Allowing me to take a couple of shots that turned out okay considering it was starting to get quite dark. 

 

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I mentioned earlier the idea of calling in deer using a device known as a Buttolo, I first came across this device while reading an article about muntjac in which someone described using one to call in one of these deer to photograph it. Being a birder I’m very familiar with using calls to attract certain hard to see species or ones you want to photograph, but the idea of trying this with deer hadn’t seriously occurred to me before. The article described how the deer came really close, after reading this I decided to look at YouTube to see if there were any videos of deer calling and found quite a lot. Obviously, calling with a Buttolo is a technique primarily used by stalkers and deer hunters, to attract deer that they can then shoot, so if you have a problem with seeing animals being shot I don’t suggest you look up such videos. Seeing how well this technique works and just how close the deer will come, towards the end of last July, I decided I would get one as the roe rut was just starting. I ordered a Buttolo from Amazon.

 

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My first attempt at using the device wasn’t a great success but it may have been just a little too early in the rut, I had also chosen to position myself out in a field where there are always deer and this was probably a mistake as despite being sat down the vegetation was not high enough so I was likely too conspicuous. However, I managed to get a distant roe doe to look at me and she was clearly listening but she didn’t come closer however I wasn’t certain that the calls I was making were quite right. In another field I found a buck and got him to very briefly look, but he soon disappeared.

 

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For my next attempt I positioned myself with my back to a wood looking out into field, where there was in fact already a buck, I’d taken a couple of shots of him but I must have inadvertently spooked him because he retreated into the wood. However, he didn’t run too fast or bark so I started calling in the hope of bringing him back, before attempting this I had wondered quite what I would do, if I attracted a deer from within the wood just behind me. After some attempts at calling I heard some rustling of something moving behind me and then heard it again closer, I turned around just in time to see a muntjac dashing off through the undergrowth. It must come to the call but then had seen my movement and didn’t like what it saw, these little deer are called barking deer for a very good reason, the muntjac barked loudly and continuously as it disappeared back through the wood, guaranteeing that I would be unlikely to see any more deer that evening.

 

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The next time I went for walk going to a different area, when calling any species, you don’t want to overdo it in one location, after accidentally spooking three roes including a young kid that had been hiding in the grass I thought I’d blown my chances. However, passing a shelterbelt of trees I spotted and was able to get a couple of shots of a kid.

 

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Roe kid still showing some faint spots 

 

I then continued on my way walking along below another small wood, calling intermittently in a slightly absent-minded way as I thought I don’t know if I’m doing this right as I’m really not sure this is working. Just as I was passing some hawthorn trees I heard a thunder of hooves as two deer shot passed me, I hadn’t been prepared for that and thought that I had perhaps blown it again. However, I then realised that it was a doe and a kid that had run by, and could see them heading away, not knowing quite what would happen, I gave a few blasts of the call. I wasn’t prepared for what happened next, the two deer turned and started heading towards me, I was carrying my camera on a monopod which I’d made the mistake of not extending, which made taking photos more difficult than it should have been. What also makes it tricky is having to put away the Buttolo as the deer is coming in, so that you can get both hands on your camera. You either need to just keep it in your pocket as you are using it, this will muffle the sound slightly but this can be a good thing, then you can just take your hand out of your pocket without losing it, or you need to tie it to your belt or hang it on some string around your neck, so you can just drop it. The kid was very likely the same one I'd already seen as when they first ran by they had come from that direction, the fact that I could hear the noise of their hooves bearing in mind their not the biggest of animals is an indication of how close they were when they passed me.

 

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The doe came really close to have a look at where the call was coming from, but couldn’t see a deer just me with my camera, not wearing camouflage I was probably quite visible, she didn’t like what she saw so turned and ran. Trying to get my back up against one of the trees so I would be less visible I called again and to my amazement she wheeled around and came straight back to me, her kid following almost at her heels.

 

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Again, she didn’t like what she saw and ran, again I called and again she turned and came back for another look, in the end after she’d done this about 4-5 times and looked from every angle she decided that there was definitely no amorous buck waiting for her just me which she didn’t really like the look of, so they disappeared off into the wood. I hadn’t anticipated that it would work as well as this, that a deer would come so close and would keep coming back after initially running.

 

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The urge to mate is I guess so strong, that the effect of hearing the call was almost instant and brought her back to me even though she clearly wasn’t happy with what she was looking at. By the time they left, I’d already decided that I had disturbed them quite enough and that it was time to stop and move on. My few further attempts yielded no results put perhaps next rutting season I’ll give it another go. As with calling in birds this is not something you should do to often, as you may juts disturb the deer and either drive them away or get to the point where they won't respond anymore, with roe deer the call is really only effective during the rut, so you can only really use the device for a limited period anyway.  

 

 

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Reeves’s muntjac

 

The smallest species of deer in the UK is the Reeves’s muntjac (Muntiacus reevesi ) this introduced species is endemic to China and their alternate name is Chinese muntjac, they were introduced to the Woburn Park Estate in Bedfordshire in the early part of the 20th century. Due to a combination of escapes and deliberate releases they quickly became established in the English countryside and have spread across the whole of southern Britain colonising most of England and Wales, there are also populations established in Scotland. In time they will likely be found everywhere in mainland Britain and will soon become if they are not already our most common deer species. They are like other muntjacs also known as barking deer, when disturbed they produce a loud dog like bark, they do also bark when breeding. They are quite unusual in appearance and often described as looking either rather dog like or rather pig like, which can confuse people who've never seen one before. 

 

Unlike our other deer in the UK Reeves’s muntjac have no fixed rutting season and breed throughout the year, does are capable of breeding at seven months old. After a gestation period of seven months they give birth to a single kid and are ready to mate again within a few days. The bucks are armed with small antlers and large canine teeth, when fighting one buck will try to push the other off balance with it’s antlers and if successful will then attempt to slash it with its canines. As adults they don’t really have any predators perhaps the greatest threat are dogs, despite their small size they will defend themselves courageously if cornered, pet dogs often come off worse in a confrontation, particularly with a doe defending her kid. However, quite a few kids are taken by foxes, this though doesn’t seem to have had much effect on their numbers. Before they became as well established as they have here, it was thought that they might not spread that far or really even survive because it was assumed that they might not be able to cope too well with our winters. This view has proved entirely wrong, and they have shown themselves to be more than able to cope, it will though be interesting to see how far they spread in the Highlands of Scotland. Although they are not considered a pest to agriculture and are not a significant problem for commercial forestry they do have considerable impact on our native flora, eating important woodland wildflowers like devil's bit scabious, blue bells, wild orchids (various types), red yarrow, oxlips and honey suckle amongst other plants. It is thought that their excessive browsing of understory vegetation in our woodlands has a significant impact on woodland bird species and they have been implicated in the decline in nightingale populations. They can also have a significant effect on the natural regeneration of coppice woodland.   

 

At some point very recently, some irresponsible people introduced Reeves’s muntjac to Ireland where the species had been entirely absent, the deer were presumably taken from England and transported across the Irish Sea and released illegally in the Irish Republic presumably for hunting. Since around 2008 there have been sightings of muntjac in County Wicklow, they have since spread to Northern Ireland as was confirmed when one was killed by a car. Although there have been calls to try and eradicate them before they become established, the likelihood is that it is already too late and they will soon be well established throughout Ireland.

 

They have also been introduced to the Netherlands and Belgium although as far as I know there don’t seem to too many there at present, and there's also an introduced population in Japan.

 

The following map shows their Chinese and mainland UK distributions but not these more recent introductions.

 

Distribution map

 

Muntjac in my experience are far more secretive than roe deer and being much smaller does make them harder to see, while I do see them reasonably often it is usually as they are running away, so whereas I have many photos of roe deer, I only have a few of Reeves’s muntjac. Unless they have become habituated they are not easy animals to get close to.

 

 

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Doe 

 

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Buck in velvet, you can clearly see his elongated canines.

 

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Buck in velvet

 

The following video is a compilation of trail camera videos taken using a Little Acorn and a Bushnell Trophy Cam.

 

 

 

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Interesting out-of-focus bokah there on most photos @inyathi, almost like a mirror lens. What lens are you using?

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@graynomad Thanks, I’m using a Canon 100-400mm currently the mk2 version, but for many years since before I went digital I was using the mk1 version, I don’t suppose there’s much difference between them, all the shots I’ve posted in this thread were taken with a 100-400. That I managed to get good shots is almost entirely down to my camera, I’m currently using an EOS 70D and the most recent roe deer shots that I posted were taken with this camera, earlier shots excluding scanned slides were taken with either an EOS 50D or a 20D. Although I really should know what I’m doing by now, I still think it is as much by accident as design that I sometimes get some good shots.    

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