|Whitetails are exquisite
in their grace and beauty, and under special conditions, where their nature
and needs are understood, they can be tamed and kept as pets. It
is definitely not a commitment to be taken lightly though. It is important to
realize that deer are prey > animals, while dogs and cats for
example are predators . Deer are more like birds and
horses who make their way in the world by being constantly alert and ready
to take flight at the least whiff of danger. A prey animal will
only turn to fight a predator as a last and most unwelcome choice.
The prey animals that live the longest are the ones with the keenest senses,
reflexes, wariness, brains and physical fitness.
Its keen flight response is what powers the frightened deer that will, in blind terror, hurl itself into a solid object, off a precipice, into fencing or other some other damaging situation. Their drive for survival can also result in their death.
|A pet deer will, bit
by bit, relinquish some of its profoundly wild instincts as it is tamed.
An animal that is imprinted (using the word loosely) on humans
will allow a person into its most intimate, personal space, and will allow
very familiar physical contact. An animal that is merely hand-tame
will allow closeness usually only to accept food or limited petting, and
it would bolt off in a panic if you, for example, tried to hug it.
Many wild animals' personal spaces shrink with familiarity. They might know that a particular dog never behaves in a predatory way, and so pay little attention to it. A tolerant , pen raised deer might accept a distance of, say, 20 feet between itself and its caretaker, but have a stranger come along with the caretaker and the deer will blast off in a panic. Or, if the familiar person tries to close that 20 feet to 15 feet, the deer's flight response will kick in with full force. Finally, a completely wild animal will have its natural, unadulterated "flight distance". Just as humans have their own personal space that, if intruded upon, will make them feel crowded and alarmed, other species as well have their own typical distance that, if trespassed upon, will trigger flight. For the whitetail this distance is 200 feet, while for the pronghorn for example it is 500 feet.
Tame bucks though, because they are tame, can be killers. In the wild a buck has an intense need to preserve its own flight distance, and would not think of coming close to a human, and that is exactly what gives us our protection. Once that need for distance is gone, the aggressive, rutting buck (even more so if a person happens to come between the buck and a doe he is courting) has no sense of needing to preserve its space, and that is when he becomes seriously dangerous.
The force of a buck attack is nearly unbelievable. I was the target of one when I used a tractor to enter the pen of a normally very sweet, tame buck who was now in full rut. Before this he had not been violent, but had been starting to brush me with his velvety antlers as though he wanted to spar.
|Now in hard horn he
was in a frenzy. He gored the tractor tires repeatedly, then just
dug in and wrestled the machine. His muscles twisted, wrenched and
pulsed, trying to defeat the tractor. Witnessing his violent power,
I felt I was caught up in a phenomenon of nature like a hurricane. He would not slow down
or stop, and I could not leave the field because I would not be able to
to get down to open the gate safely, much less keep him in his pasture.
I finally had to bully the poor buck with the tractor bucket...for quite a while...before he would concede the match and back off. If a fawn is picked up the wrong way, it will use it's pointed hooves, and twiggy little legs to connect with a power that would shock you...it will shred your clothing and cover you with welts, lacerations and bruises. Compare that to the large, thickly muscled hindquarters of an adult buck that he uses to drive forward his multiply pointed weapon. Keep in mind that a buck in rut, or to be safe ANY buck in hard horn is a crazed, hormone driven breeding machine. A large number of people are killed by their trusted tame deer each year because they do not understand the extremes in the nature of the normal breeding buck.
MULE DEER AND BLACKTAIL