We’ve written about moose, bear and wolves – time to give a shout out to one of the fleet-footed friends of the forest – the whitetail deer.
Deer are shy and fast. The occasional rebel struts proudly past a human – many will dart back and forth and run as fast as you see them. I recall tracking the signs of a deer as it ran from our hound dog. Our dog had hopelessly lost the trail of the deer when it navigated towards a fallen tree which formed a 12-15 foot high wall in the forest. The deer had cleared the height in a single bound – the dog had been trailing it’s smell and lost the trail at the tree. By the time we got there, it had long escaped (a feat I admire to this day).
I can recall at least 3 separate hunts in 20 years where I have sat for 2+ hours thinking there were no animals nearby before giving up and walking away. As I moved out of position and away from my watch, a deer bounded up and out of sight in moments. If you get too close they will sit and wait you out until you are a safe distance away for the deer to make a bolt for it. I imagine this distance is largely gauged based on the distance an animal running could cover but it has happened to often to discount.
Whitetail deer are proud and light in the woods. I picture them as the Princes and Princesses of the forest palace.
Their tracks are similar to moose – however they are daintier and more reflective of their 150-250 pound frame. Like moose, the “pointy end” of the track indicates the direction that they are going.
A small track can be 1-2 inches while a large track can be 2.5-3 inches long. Tracks become exaggerated in soft ground (mud can make a regular track look goliath) while they can leave little-to-no sign on hard and frozen ground.