Losing velvet

September 2, 2011

in Spike

All the bucks have shed the velvet from their antlers, as usual in late August, to reveal very sharp and hard antlers underneath. Last year a newly de-velveted antler   caused a fatal injury for Gulliver, so we are watching the group for any signs of fighting. So far so good. Until the pieces of velvet fall off, each deer has a set of dreads that make them look a bit silly. But we always remember the sharpness and potential deadliness of those brow antlers.

Spike with dreads


Small token

May 24, 2010

in Spike

Spike lounges under the names of the bucks who have died since the deer arrived at the Florida Road site on May 26, 2007…almost three years ago.

We lost Ty and Dandy in November 2008 and Koko early this year in January 2010.


All Grown Up

October 18, 2009

in Spike

Here’s a photo of Spike taken today — one of two young bucks who we guessed were about 2 years of age when they became part of the Fallow Deer Reserve herd. He has certainly grown up and is entering his prime. If you check out the photos of Spike from 2006 you will see how fallow deer bucks mature, how antlers and body change and grow. This photo also gives you a good idea of how the rut changes a buck’s appearance. Everything bulks up!


Cody feeds EGee, photo by Marion Bogert

On Friday afternoon, August 8, 2008 the Bogert family visited the Reserve to commune with their adopted deer: EGee, Spike and Bash. This family (three generations) continues to support the work of the Reserve and in return, the deer decided to give them the cast 2008 antlers of EGee and Spike. It was the first visit of Tasha to her four-legged adoptee, and she is convinced that her Bash is the most handsome of the herd. All agree that EGee is definitely one of the most friendly and he was happy to accept apples and carrots from Paige, Holly, Georgia and Cody. Spike is still a bit cautious about accepting food from human beings, but Cody had a good throw and made sure Spike got his share.

Many thanks to all the members of this generous family!

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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.


The non-party’s over

November 28, 2007

in Moki,Spike

Moki with injured left ear.

We are declaring the rut or mating season officially over. The bucks have returned to a more calm daily routine of grazing and resting while chewing cud. Most of the in-fighting has subsided. Mike and Dandy who had some prolonged and frequent skirmishes are now cohabiting in the shelter without fuss.

Casualties of the rut include many small trees and bushes that have lost bark caused by the bucks’ regular thrashing with their antlers. And, Moki lost part of his left ear after a fight with Spike just this past week. At first we thought he might have ripped his ear on the fenceposts (think kids’ rite of passage, tongue on cold metal), but then we saw some fresh blood on Spike’s antlers. Mystery solved.

We have started feeding hay but as yet the bucks seem interested only in the hay’s best parts (dried flowers, etc.) and push the hay around with their noses on the look-out for these succulent pieces.

Recently the herd has started to follow us whenever we walk around the 2700 foot fence line checking for damage, holes or obstructions. When we start out, Max usually walks quietly alongside or just behind us, followed by Mike and one or two others. Soon almost the entire herd is following along in single file except for KoKo. He finds it difficult to leave behind his beloved mineral lick and always choses it over the 1/2 mile hike.


The Skinny on Spike

July 21, 2006

in Spike

Let us introduce you to Spike. The top photo was taken in July and this one was taken in June 2006.

We named Spike because in April he had tiny antlers which were not much bigger than chopsticks. He missed being labelled a “fawn” and going to Omega Park because of these two spikes indicating his male status. Omega Park wanted only does and fawns for a trail area in their reserve where guests can walk three kilometres through a beautiful Laurentian Shield landscape and catch sight of our 89 Odessa deer (plus at least 4 new fawns)who have made themselves at home.

His small antlers shed in May as did those of all the bucks and you can see from the pictures in June and July how much his antlers have grown. Here’s the lastest picture of his antlers in August:

Spike’s got a lot of personality for such a small, young deer. He is genuinely interested in people and likes to watch them. He doesn’t come too close to feeders yet but he enjoys all the food that comes his way: corn, apples and carrots (in that order).

We think Spike is likely to become one of our most social deer. Everyday he gets a little bolder and communicates a little more.