Oh, Deer!

This is what I saw this afternoon in my neighbor’s front yard. White-tailed Deer.



Pretty, aren’t they?



However, I’m not happy to see them. There’s a severe over-population problem, resulting in environmental disaster, not to mention what they do when they get into a vegetable garden. Additionally, deer are a host of Lyme Disease, which is causing a health crisis in my town.

Still, when they dash off, you can’t help but appreciate their leaps and bounds. (Look close, though, and you’ll see that they aren’t all grace – see one crash into another?)

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My neighbor doesn’t have a dog, but I have Lily. She keeps the deer off of our property. Good girl!



  1. What an amazing action shot. I know what a nuisance they must be but what beautiful photos. I don’t know what else to say because your photos just blow me away, except of course, good dog Lily. She blends into the snow wonderfully too.

  2. There are beautiful animals.
    Great shot.
    What spooked them?
    Terry, have discussions started of hiring sharp shooters to cull the herd during hunting season? In some areas of St Louis the sharp shooters have been hired.
    We have no shortage of deer here in St Louis either , actually had 8 or so run across the parking lot at work the other day, I was walking back in from lunch and they actually startled me, they were moving fast.

      • I’d read that human developments actually create the type of habitat deer prefer- clearings bordered by trees. So urban sprawl is actually beneficial to the deer…

        (although, there is human overpopulation, but that’s not a very popular subject!)

  3. Pretty deer, probably somewhat larger than our VA white tail variety. Terry I don’t know if you watch PBS online but they had a documentary on white tail deer, “Called the private life of deers”. It is well worth watching, they ar so intelligencent, and so social I am so surpirsed no one has successfully domesicated them. Some white tail deer are so smart that they will figure out how to use cross walks on streets to cross safely. Others if you watch the documentary know how far each dog that lives in their territory will run and the deer will only run to the end of each individual dog’s yard, then just stop and just lesiurely walk away. So that is what I am sure the deer in your area know do about Lily.

  4. We have the same here! Lots of deer down from the mountains. The Bountiful City Police will send a sharp shooter if you want a deer killed that is in your yard. I’ve had some close calls while driving to work in the morning, its so dark they are hard to see!

  5. Wow. Great pictures, and beautiful animals!

    Seems there must be a considerable lack of natural predators in the area in order to have such an overpopulation of deer. Wolves for example, if reintroduced (controversial, I know, but just a thought) would most likely be a large part of the solution. Nature usually balances itself rather well if left alone.

  6. Great shot of Lily she is at the ready! Lyme Disease tragic for those who are infected. Even if the deer do not frequent yards often the ticks that hitch rides on them can be a problem.

    • One neighbor died of a tick-borne illness, and another is now disabled and in a wheelchair because of it. The deer are intermediary hosts. As are mice.

  7. Very pretty to look at but you are so correct, they carry a host of problems in warm weather regarding ticks and Lyme’s Disease. Like you, we rely on our dogs (two little Cairn Terriers) to sound the warning and spook them away from garden/lawn areas. It may sound harsh, but the deer are not harmed in any way and it helps to keep the tick situation somewhat under control.

    • Those little dogs can be so brave. It’s not harsh at all to chase them off. Across the street there’s 900 preserved forest acres. They can go there!

  8. They certainly look very healthy, does Massachusetts have a deer hunting season. They could eliminate (or as hunters call it “harvest”) several thousand a year.

  9. A friend of mine was killed in a bizarre car/deer accident (car hit deer which flew through the air and crashed through my friend’s windshield).

    We also have a huge Lyme tick problem here in SE Massachusetts. Plus the deer seem to prefer our decorative plants to anything they could find in the swamp out back. The deer are beautiful, though. They do seem to return to places they’re happy with, and if you can somehow break that cycle it does help. Our new neighbor is a bow hunter and this is the first winter deer haven’t been at the rhododendrons and there are few tracks in the snow. Perhaps he got the culprits and new deer won’t think of the plants as tasty. We shall see.

    Too bad the deer don’t eat Asian bittersweet. It’s everywhere. In a perfect world…

  10. I am disgusted with wildlife culls. It has got to stop….remove the deer and ticks might prefer you or your dog.

      • They tried the relocation of deer here in Missouri from suburban to rural areas, huge disaster. The rural areas don’t need more deer either.
        Culls do take place with hired sharp shooters and in some locations were populations are beyond controlling with hunting they are trapped and “euthanized”.
        The good of all of this is the meat is donated to local food banks. Local companies donate to help pay from hoof to dinner table.
        It’s a problem with no easy solutions.

  11. Just what they need out east on Long Island instead of sharp shooters- Lily Dog! They are lovely to look at but I am terrified, especially at dusk, that one will jump out on the road. A family friend was paralyzed due to such an accident.

  12. It is also disheartening that in here in Maine people affected by tick borne illnesses are having difficulty finding doctors to treat them. They are having to travel out of state and pay for their treatment. I’m not sure if it’s the state or the CDC that doesn’t recognize chronic Lyme.

    • Animals are also affected. I know of two horses that were permanently lamed from Lyme. It turns out, though, that goats don’t get Lyme – it’s thought that there’s something that happens in the ruminant’s stomach that neutralizes it.

      • Terry,
        You have mentioned before that goats can not get lyme’s, but from my reading, it is reported that they can get get it.

        • Brenda, can you email me with the links? Everyone I’ve talked to, and my vet, says otherwise. Because goats browse in high grass and woody verges, they have ticks on them all summer.

          • If you google “Lyme disease in goats” you see this statement over and over

            ete bacteria, Borrelia burgdorferi, …. Lyme disease has been described in dogs, cats, horses cows and goats.

            • I’ve looked through those pages. Although goat blood tests positive for antibodies to Lyme, what you don’t see in the research are goats exhibiting the disease and then being treated. Some web pages state a blanket “Lyme disease has been found in dogs, cats, goats and horses…” There are a few anecdotal incidents of Lyme in baby goats. No research or widespread reports of Lyme in mature goats.

  13. It must be a real concern of yours then that Tonka will have a tick that goes un-noticed. They must be hard to find on a large Black animal?

  14. Awesome photographs! We, too, have deer issues. I’ve had the suckers challenge me in my own yard. *shakes head* In some places around here, they have bow hunters come in to clean out some of the deer. Some years there are so many, that the highway is just one carcass after another. Ewww.

  15. In the mountains of SW Va, we don’t have deer over-population problems. We do, however, have many, many hunters. Poaching regulations are strictly enforced. My husband and son are deer hunter’s. In the fall, you will find me making deer jerky. All who have tried it, love it. We have a herd that stays in the field behind our house. Hunter’s live all around this field, but nobody touches them. We are also law abiding citizens. We had feeders put up, but the state banned the feeders last year. I don’t see us ever having a problem with deer. Our hunters need to come to your area and clean it out. Wouldn’t take long. They are excellent shooters with bows and rifles. Personally, I love to watch them. I especially love to watch a mama and her baby or babies. Very gentle animals. I could never kill one, unless starving.

    • The pictures really are beautiful. Pic 2 and 4 would be good candidates for your calendar next year. I am already looking forward to next years calendar!

  16. We have many deer here in Cambria, but we also have a couple of mountain Lions which keep the deer moving and under control. Our deer are unafraid of people but do keep their distance if you get too close. They are beautiful creatures and I always think you know they were here before we were.

  17. Well if you don’t trust the Humane Society how about research from Harvard? This is a little old, 2010. That is all I have to say on this topic but I am greatly saddened by the response of people wanting to simply kill the deer.

    • The problem with deer goes well beyond the Lyme disease issue. It’s not healthy for the environment or for the deer to have the population at the current level. The issue is complex. It’s never been about “simply killing deer.”

  18. OOh, don’t get me started on deer. Or, as they are known around our household, f—– bambis (sorry). Our local mule deer population formerly migrated to their winter range in the desert east of town in the fall. Huge population growth and the building of countless housing developments in our small town has blocked that migration now, for the most part. However, they feel no urge to migrate anymore, since they are now fed by neighborhood idiots like the woman up the street from me, and all over town. I’ve seen her in her bathrobe, out in her front yard, next to the literal troughs of ‘food’ she sets out for them, feeding them out of her hand and petting them.

    Dept. of Fish & Wildlife asks people not to feed the deer, but people like my neighbor seem to neither know nor care about the damage they do to their neighbors who try to grow flowers, trees, shrubs and vegetable gardens (we are trying to eat here, hello) — not to mention the ill effects of the so-called deer ‘food’ they are laying out. Deer are browsers, and in the normal course of a natural year, their digestive enzymes switch in fall to enable them to digest the more twiggy food available from the branches and dried vegetation of winter. Commercial deer food is full of corn, soy and nuts — all high in protein and difficult for ruminants to digest (like corn-feeding cattle). If they continue to eat this kind of ultra high quality food through the winter, their digestive systems do not make the change, and they are then much more dependent on the food provided by just a few humans.

    Since even small towns in most parts of the country are not inhabited by the large predators (wolves, cougars), the deer build up in unnaturally high numbers, and end up getting hit by cars, attacking people and dogs (I know people whose dogs have been kicked to death by mama deer), and are subject to diseases and parasites mentioned above. It is heart wrenching to see crippled deer hobbling around the streets after encounters with cars. I doubt the cars came off all that well either.

    By feeding and protecting urban deer we are doing sort of a reverse natural selection. Yes, they are beautiful, graceful and fun to watch. But they don’t belong in cities and we do the deer themselves a disservice when we sentimentalize them and try to override mother nature’s design.

    In an example of such widespread sentimentalization, here is a recent really weird headline from our local paper: ‘Feds Blame Wolves for Deer, Elk Kills’. Isn’t that a little like blaming dogs for eating kibbles?!!

    • You are absolutely right about the problems associated with feeding deer. Another issue is that when the prey population becomes stationary, so too do the predators. Feeding deer changes wolf and coyote behavior. They also stay put, and their population also explodes, and then they look for other, easy to eat animals, like domestic farm animals and pets.

  19. I used to think that humans were savages to kill nature’s beautiful creatures, deer, grouse, moose. I finally grew out of the feeling. We also have a right to our own territory, too! Deer are beautiful, poetic, graceful, and in danger of our loving them to death. I think of them somewhat as pigeons, feed one and they all will come into the same space. We should be careful of turning them into “rats with hooves” by allowing them to overrun their space. That would force them to become like caged layer hens! There is the potential for widespread disease and parasites, starvation and road accidents…I was hit by a buck, had much damage to the car and nearly to myself. I understand that there are more deer now than when the Pilgrims came (they ate lots of eels!) I am thinking that raising the hunt quota to two per hunter in those areas afflicted with overpopulation might be a good thing after all…at least for a while. That would be a good way to love them, by making them healthier and even more beautiful by giving them the amount of space they deserve….just like our flocks.

  20. Hunting was a very big issue for my husband and me when we first got married. It took only a couple of years for him to show me that hunting was a humane thing and he wasn’t going to stop. He gave the reasons above plus inbreeding. I have seen deer in isolated areas that we believe inbreeding is rampant. The deer look sickly and are smaller. Their coats look straggly. Very large eyes, with small faces. Not pretty. Now I am an advocate of deer hunting. We feel Va. state laws are within reason and are needed. If the population goes up for one reason or another, they will add an additional doe day. My family and all the hunters we know, will only kill what they will eat. It never comes down to just a sport. I approve of hunting, but hope nobody ever expects me to help with the hunt.

  21. PS- We have a large garden every year. We also have deer coming constant on our property. Husband puts up a scarecrow in our garden that looks a lot like him. He uses his clothes and one of his caps. Once if fell over after a big storm and I had helicopters making several passes checking to see if someone was laying out in our garden. The scarecrow does keep the deer out of the garden. We have no problems with deer eating any of our plants or vegetables.

  22. I live in Italy and we own a woodland where there are a lot of deer. They’re very beautiful and I love seeing them come down to the stream at dusk to drink.

    But they’re a huge problem for crops and for spreading disease – or they would be were they not kept under control by local hunters. The regulations are strictly enforced and people here do not hunt for fun, but to sustain the land.

    I’m originally from the UK, and from the city. I hate people who hunt for “the fun of it” – in particular hunting with dogs which are encouraged to tear wildlife limb from limb – but I know enough to know that humane killing is necessary for everyone’s sake – including the deer.

  23. Hi Terry!
    Is that collar on Lily´s neck Scalibor? Why do you put it on her?
    Here in Brazil we put in our dogs to prevent bites from flies responsible for the transmission of Leishmaniasis. Is that disease common in the US?


    • Yes, it’s a scalibor, and since using it having found one tick attached to Lily. We don’t have Leishmaniasis (I looked that up – sounds terrible!) but we have other tick-borne illnesses, including Lyme and erlichia.