One evening last week I had an interesting encounter with a Whitetail Deer. I had just set my tools down and was walking forward to take some before photos of a planned work area, when I spotted a buck deer about 30 feet up the hill from me. The deer was trying to shed its antler by pushing it against a thick grape vine. It was obvious from first glance that the buck was not exhibiting the behavior typical of a healthy deer.
The antler slipped from the vine and the deer lurched forward, the grape vine now arching above its neck. Here it stayed for several minutes.
The deer was breathing heavily and its eyes were kept partially closed. At this point I thought the deer might just be exhausted from trying to dislodge the stubborn antler.
After its rest, the deer circled around and came at the grape vine again. It had no better luck this time and circled around for a third try.
Leaving the deer to its business, I went ahead and took a few photos of my planned work area. I heard some branches breaking and turned in time to see the deer stumble away from the grape vine, get tangled in a small shrub and stagger down the hill to fall right on top of my tools.
The deer stayed down for about a minute before getting back on its feet. Its body looks to have lost a lot of muscle. It was here that I began wondering if the deer was just on the downhill end of a long life or if it was diseased.
After standing for a couple of minutes, the deer began to walk in a tight circle. The video above shows part of its roundabout journey. Before filming, I was able to sneak in and get my bow saws and tool bag out of the way, but each time I moved in, the deer lunged in my direction. Not wanting to risk a deer related injury, I left my pole saw and gloves to fend for themselves. The deer seems quite adept at stepping on the pole saw on each circuit.
Eventually, the deer worked its way down the trail. In the half hour between the taking of this shot and sundown, the deer traveled about 60 feet and fell down four times. The following morning I found the deer another 200 feet down the trail. It was down and didn’t look like it would be getting up again. I reported the presence of a potentially diseased deer to the local Wildlife Officer who arrived to put the deer out of its misery and collect samples to be tested for disease.