Record-breaking pasture

June 7, 2011

in Mike

Mike, at rest

The bucks are enjoying abundant pasture, thanks to weeks of heavy rain this spring and early summer. Places that normally are chewed down to short bits look long and lush. It’s a good time to be a grazer, that’s a certainty.

Mike, grazing




Life is good

January 6, 2011

in Mike,Moki,Murph

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Exploring the new enclosure

December 8, 2010

in Mike,Moki

Here’s what happened when we opened the gates on Sunday, December 5, 2010 and let the bucks explore the new space (about an acre)…new grass and, of course, trees and bushes on which to thrash. Moki and Mike made mincemeat of a small cedar bush in the photo above. No one had problems entering into the new “playground” through the sliding gate designed by Don Murphy. Present to watch the show were Don, Allan Park, Jane McDonald and Wendy Workman who took the photos seen above.


Rut behaviour

October 1, 2009

in Bash(ful),Mike


We are happy to report that all the bucks have dropped their antlers. The process began on April 6 with Gulliver and ended on April 21, 2009 with the last set being cast off by Spike who we think is the youngest. It’s always a relief when the whole herd is without antlers and on the same “playing field”.

Mike, who was suffering from a large abscess on his left side at the beginning of April, is doing well these days. Time and nature took care of the growth and the only side effect seemed to be a delay in his casting off his antlers.

For those of you interested in stats, here’s a comparison of dates from 2008 to 2009:

Gulliver — April 10, 2008/April 6, 7, 2009
Max — April 14, 2008/April 10, 2009
Mike — April 16, 2008/April 19, 2009
Bash — April 18, 2008/April 8, 2009
Murph — April 19, 2008/April 7, 8, 2009
George — April 22, 23, 2008/April 15, 2009
Buddy — April 25, 26, 2008/April 14, 2009
KoKo — April 29, 2008/April 15, 2009
EGee — April 29, 2008/April 21, 2009
Moki — April 29, May 1, 2008/April 14, 2009
Spike — May 3, 2008/April 21, 2009


The rut continues

October 21, 2008

in Mike

Here’s a photo of Mike which shows how swollen the bucks’ throats are in the rut (mating season) which has been experienced by our deer for the past two or three weeks. It is difficult for them to eat too much or to chew their cud. Also, they make a kind of deep “croaking” sound. We think the younger bucks (Spike, Moki and Buddy) are starting to come out of the rut as they are showing interest in grazing and are starting to eat hay when offered.


Mike, George and Spike

Moki on the right with his left ear now healed

e learn so much from these deer about being present in the here and now. As we drove to the Reserve today, we were complaining about the length of the winter, more snow, endless cold, etc. etc.

We started down the hill and saw these sights. Thirteen deer hanging out, together, content, chewing their cud, enjoying rest and soft hay. Just the perfect way to spend a January afternoon in the country.


When people visit the Reserve, they always express surprise that we can identify the individual deer. Aside from KoKo who is easy to recognize given his chocolate colour, at first sight the rest of the deer look very alike.

Having worked with the bucks for over 19 months, we know that each one is quite different and unique in both appearance and personality.

Here’s how we tell them apart.

Max, the leader, is a large deer with one of the largest sets of antlers and a golden colour especially on his head and back of neck. He often stands in the middle of the herd, but never gets challenged by other bucks. (A challenge is when a deer lowers his head and antlers and moves towards another in a determined way. Sometimes the deer will tilt his head and show one eye to the other deer. )

Dandy, is usually the second in command. He is probably the largest deer in body size but his antlers don’t have the wide palmation of the other large deer. He is very calm.

Mike is next in herd hierarchy but sometimes he vies with Dandy to gain status to second. He looks quite a bit like Max and has large antlers. However, his right brow antler is bent over his right eye in an odd way caused by a collision with a barricade when the deer were being moved to Florida from Scotland Road in May last year. Mike is very social towards people. We hope his antlers return to normal this year.

Gulliver is another large deer with the largest palmation of antlers. He seems to be the big brother of Moki (one of our youngest and smallest) who is a constant companion. Gulliver will often let Moki “play fight/challenge” with him but never exerts the full power he could if the fight were for real. Gulliver likes to chase smaller deer at feeding time, doing his best to get all the food for himself, but he never challenges a deer that is larger than himself.

Murph is a large deer with exceptionally long antlers with good palmation and many spellers (or branches). He has a dark coat, but not quite as dark as KoKo. He is very independent and spends time away from the herd on his own. He is not that interested in people…can take or leave ‘em.

Bash is a large light-coloured deer with large antlers that have many spellers and very straight brow antlers. He, too, is somewhat independent and will leave the herd to go on his own. He likes to bully Buddy who is also light-coloured. Bash used to be very frightened of people, but he is becoming very social these days.

Ty has a compact body, a muddy brown colour and very wide palmated antlers with many spellers. Like Bash, he was very fearful of people when we first started working with the herd, now he doesn’t seem too worried by us. He never challenges large deer for food or water, but bullies all the other deer the same size or smaller than him.

Buddy is a medium-sized light coloured deer. His brow antlers turn inward instead of straight ahead which gives him a slightly cock-eyed, cute appearance. His personality is carefree and he’s very curious about people and what they are doing whether it be building a shelter, digging or hauling water. He will run away from food to get a good view of human beings at work.

EGee is a medium-sized deer with shorter palmated antlers, few spellers and long straight brow antlers. He has a dark brown winter coat with a splash of white on his right side where he was injured last winter. He is very social and calm and only occasionally will he bully George or KoKo at feeding time to get in the best position.

George looks like the other medium-sized deer in appearance except for his antlers this year which have little or no palmation. Our theory is that this odd antler formation was caused by the anti-inflammatory medication he was given last winter after suffering a “shoulder” injury. We hope that his antlers return to normal this year. George is definitely the most social of the deer and he can be a nuisance if you are working inside the fence as he has no fear of people and will invade human space quite easily.

KoKo is our most recognizable deer because he is very dark in colour and even in summer he has very faint “spots” on his chocolate-coloured back. He has a compact, you might say round body and he is very social and calm. He is the one most likely to be hanging out in the shelter of the woods rather than the person-made shelter attached to the barn. He seems to like to hang out with Ty or Buddy.

Moki is one of our youngest at 3 years of age. His antlers are palmated but smaller than all the other deer (except for Spike). His right brow antler bends to the right and this winter he lost the top of his left ear as a result of a tussle with Spike towards the end of the rut.

Spike is the other 3 year old with antlers similar to those of Moki. He is the only deer in our herd with a brown tail which makes him a “menil” fallow deer. Spike is social and curious and likes to hang out with George and fight with Moki.


Closeup: Mike

August 29, 2007

in Mike

Here’s a closeup of Mike now that his velvet has vanished, showing the injury on his right brow antler. Although the antler touches his forehead, there does not appear to be any rubbing and from our observations there is no problem with his vision.
Nearly all deer have a facial gland in front of each eye which you can see in this photo. The gland contains a strongly scented pheromone used to mark his home range. Bucks of a wide range of species open these glands wide when angry or excited.


Wonky Mike

June 10, 2007

in Mike

There may have been one injury from the transportation process to the Fallow Deer Reserve’s new home. Mike has one brow antler that points down rather than up. There’s no blood or sign of trauma, other than this rather unique antler formation. From our research this would be evident only in this year’s antler and not a permanent problem for him. The wonky antler does not appear to affect his vision or any other skills.

This means we’ll have no trouble recognizing Mike this year!