Deer tracks

All last summer and fall, we saw a lot of deer on the farm. One doe and her two fawns showed up almost every day. They would bed down in the tall grass at night, forage in the woods and farm fields during the day, and return at dusk. We did have a scare when a family of coyotes came through the area, but our three deer friends were okay (read about it here).

Young deer

doe at salt block
two fawns

I haven’t seen any deer on the farm since hunting season ended. I’ve seen scat and signs of deer browsing, but nothing that would tell about their numbers. Deer hunting is a big part of the rural culture in Rockbridge County and I saw lots of hunters during deer season. I was a little worried that many of the deer would not be back this year.

We’re always on the lookout for animal tracks on our walks – that would give us an indication of how many deer were around – but the ground has been too hard. Then two nights ago, we got a ton of rain followed by an extraordinarily warm day – perfect conditions to check for deer tracks, and I set out to have a look. The first muddy spot I came to had several prints and as I walked, I was amazed at how many deer tracks I saw. They were literally everywhere!


Deer tracks

Many of the tracks were found along the same paths we take on our walks around the farm. Seems that the wildlife uses our footpaths, too!

I came back feeling really good about all the evidence of deer activity. I know that deer numbers have to be controlled because of vehicle collisions and the ecological impact of too many deer, but we love having them around. My husband and I decided when we bought the farm that our homestead would be a place that would welcome wildlife.

Looks like my wish to have the deer back this year has been granted.

“Never lose an opportunity of seeing anything beautiful, for beauty is God’s handwriting.” —Ralph Waldo Emerson

21 thoughts on “Deer tracks

    • I was happy to see the deer tracks, but I was hoping to see other tracks, which I didn’t. Maybe next time.

      On Sat, Feb 2, 2013 at 6:19 PM, Wood and Field

    • I hit a deer years ago on my way to work, so I know how devastating it can be.

      On Sat, Feb 2, 2013 at 6:44 PM, Wood and Field

  1. Beautiful shots Jo Ann, what a priviledge to be so close and get such good shots, they look similar to our Fallow Deer but are slightly different, I notice no stags only does, but I expect big daddy is out of sight keeping an eye on them.

    Love the blog!


    • Thanks, Susan. Never saw “big daddy” but he was out there somewhere. Maybe he’s more cautious…

      On Sat, Feb 2, 2013 at 6:57 PM, Wood and Field

  2. I was out looking for prints in the snow today, and happy to report there are still plenty of tracks. My husband and I are doing the same — making our place welcoming to wildlife.
    Beautiful shots. 🙂

    • Thanks, Robin. There was a young buck that we saw from time to time that actually once ran out into the field where we were walking with the dogs and taunted them to come after him. He was so fast they only chased him a short distance before turning around and coming back!

      On Sat, Feb 2, 2013 at 7:32 PM, Wood and Field

  3. Hi, Jo Ann: I, too, LOVE seeing deer! Do you feed them at all? I have been contemplating putting out a salt lick or some deer food – what do you think about doing that? Love, Margie

    • I’ve read that the ingredients in wild deer feed are very different from what deer actually eat in the wild in winter and it can upset their digestive system. I think if you want to attract them, putting out a salt block is fine. xoxo

  4. it must be so exciting to have so many deer on the farm. Where my dad worked before his retirement, the company provided the housing in their staff colony. that colony also happened to be the greenest part of a much dry landscape in Rajasthan, that is largely arid. It therefore attracted a lot of peacocks and every morning my mom would lay out the bird-feed for them at 6.00am in the back yard and they would come in flocks to feed. If my mum got late by even 5mins to put out the feed, they would create so much noise by their calls that my mum never had the luxury of lying in. But she loved it and so did we. 🙂 Miss them in the city now!!

    • We just moved here a year ago. We fed the birds at our old house for 15 years and on real cold days or whenever we got snow or ice, we’d have 200 birds in the trees in our backyard, waiting for food. I felt guilty if I didn’t fill the feeders, so even if me and my husband were both sick, we had to drag ourselves out to fill the feeders. So I know how your mom felt.

      On Sun, Feb 3, 2013 at 1:24 AM, Wood and Field

  5. I have a herd living in my woods. I have been photographing them every spring for years, but they have been in hiding for the winter – in about 30-40 days I should be able to catch up with them again. I always worry that my favorites might not have made it. Your story is heartening.

    • I’ve found that wild animals are pretty resilient. A few will be lost, but life goes on, and the rest will be back. I take heart in the fact that there will be a whole new generation in the spring.

      On Sun, Feb 3, 2013 at 2:38 AM, Wood and Field

      • That is so true, I have been shooting 3 generations of the same family and have a few favorites who are very tolerant of me. Your shots are great!

  6. How wonderful to have these beautiful deer all around you like this, as you had so obviously hoped would happen. I really enjoy your photos and your writing telling us all about their ‘back story’. Where you live looks idyllic, I did visit Virginia once many years ago and it is a place I would love to visit again one of these days with my husband. When I look at all your photos of the wildlife all around you it is like looking through a window between England and New England and I can take a peak at all that nature has to offer both sides of the sea! Modern technology is marvellous!

    • I was just thinking that yesterday – how lucky we are to have the technology to write and take pictures and share them with others, some of whom live on the other side of the world!

      On Mon, Feb 4, 2013 at 6:25 AM, Wood and Field

    • Yes, we are fortunate. Wildlife is so abundant here because of the moderate temps and diversity of habitats.

      On Mon, Feb 4, 2013 at 8:50 AM, Wood and Field

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