Nature Notes: Nocturnal Visitors

December 19, 2013

 

The backyard bucks in 2010 - Courtesy image
The stags in 2010 – Courtesy image

By Susanne Harrison, Occasional Contributor

We have had a couple of stag deer visiting our backyard lately.  We usually see them at night when the outside motion detector light turns on by our bedroom window, waking us up.  Ron hops out of bed like a kid waiting for Santa’s arrival on Christmas Eve.  He looks out the window and reports, “Two stags.  One eight pointer, and one six pointer.”  I mutter something, turn over and fall back to sleep.

There is quite a bit of snow on the ground, so food must be scarce for them.  They particularly love the leaves of our euonymus bush, and already tried to kill it last winter, but it seems to be indestructible, and it re-grew into a lovely, lush bush.  So the winter pruning begins again.

I did get out of bed to watch them several nights and was awed by their beauty and dignity.  The older one (the eight pointer) usually stays outside the fence and is the first to leap off into the woods.  The younger one (six points) is more brazen, or clueless.  Even when we bang on the window, he just looks up innocently, and continues chewing.  What at first had impressed me as their awesome beauty and grace, shifted in my mind as they came more often.  I began to see them as large, annoying goats, who transformed the euonymus from a lush bush into a cluster of denuded sticks.

Yesterday, I was downstairs at my computer in the late afternoon when I saw both deer eating at the euonymus.  I stood up, outraged, and went to the door.  The older one took off.  The younger one returned my stare, head up, eyes alert, antlers tall and majestic.  I was about fifteen feet from him.  I opened the slider and yelled something like, “Go away you goat.”  He kicked up his heels, flashed the white underside of his tail, and leapt over the fence.   I watched as he jumped through the woods and faded into the dusk.

Today it is snowing like crazy, and I’m worried about my deer.  You see, they have again become beautiful, majestic deer to me, a sacred gift from nature.  Maybe next summer I should plant more euonymus bushes.

Editor’s Note: This article was written in 2010, although stags still visit occasionally.

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Michelle
February 18, 2014 12:55 pm

Mine are enjoying cracked corn and birdseed that drops from our hanging feeder.

Julia
December 19, 2013 1:54 pm

Euonymus may not be the right thing to pland: https://www.nps.gov/plants/alien./pubs/midatlantic/eual.htm

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