On October 1, 2005, it came to the attention of Don Murphy and Wendy Workman of Wilton that a farmer in the community, whose health was failing, could no longer maintain adequate care of 100+ Fallow Deer on his farm near Odessa, Ontario, Canada. The deer were being destroyed by canned hunt. After witnessing this, Wendy and Don stepped in and spoke to the farmer about alternatives. Within 24 hours, they had adopted 102 Fallow Deer with the help of an anonymous sponsor who donated $4000 to purchase the herd. Don and Wendy were joined by many volunteers who helped feed and plan for the future of these beautiful animals. A home for the does and fawns was found at Omega Park in Montebello, Quebec and after testing, 89 fallow deer were loaded onto trucks and moved to the Quebec reserve on April 23, 2006.
That left 13 “unwanted” bucks at the Odessa farm. Land was found not far from the farm purchased by Jane McDonald and Allan Park. Another enormous community effort took place to build the 8 foot high fence that enclosed 10 acres.The fencing was made possible by assistance from Loyalist Township, the Community Foundation of Greater Kingston, Don and Emerald Murphy, Lennox Snow Fence Ltd., Chadwick Engineering, Bernie Sagriff and many hard-working volunteers.
In May 2007, the bucks were transported to the Florida Road location of the reserve where they have lived every since.
In early November 2008 during hunting season, unknown people cut the fence and released the deer. For almost two weeks every effort was made to find and bring them back. A healthy buck named Ty was shot by tranquilizer gun and died from capture myopathy in the trailer on the way back to the Reserve. Another escaped buck, Dandy, was killed by hunters. His body and antlers were found on a sideroad not far from the Reserve. One deer, George, travelled as far north as Sydenham and was adopted by a camp of ethical hunters who notified us and helped us recapture him. We were very grateful to the many hunters who helped us recapture the deer, especially Mike Ivanic, a bow-hunter who spent several days watching Moki and single-handedly capturing him.
The eleven remaining bucks enjoyed life in the cedars with no signs of ill health until December 2009 when KoKo, the darkest of the bucks in colour, began drooling from the mouth. We started antibiotics in early January 2010 but were stunned when we found his body on January 8, 2010. A post-mortem examination revealed an abscessed tooth. The infection had moved into jaw and affected his ability to digest his food. His age was estimated to be 10 years, about 2 years older than we had thought.
On a very hot Monday, August 30, 2010 Gulliver died from a single bullet, after receiving a large gash in his right side from a fight with another buck that left his bowels exposed to the elements. We chose to end his life swiftly on the advice of Dr. Brian Willows, our vet, that nothing could save him from infection and a slow and painful death.
On Tuesday, February 1, 2011 George died of hypothermia following extreme cold weather. We estimate his age to have been nine years.
There are currently eight bucks at the Reserve. Although we do not know the actual age of the deer because records were not kept at the farm, we hope these animals will live to an age of 15 years. Our youngest is approximately 7 years and the eldest is 11+ years.