The Great Outdoors


“I need to decide on a subject for my next article,” I said to my daughter recently, and she responded, “Write about deer.” The next morning, coincidentally, I saw two whitetail deer, an adult followed by a spindly legged fawn in the field on the other side of the road from our front lawn.

Whitetail deer are the most numerous deer of North America. Their range is from southern Canada south into Mexico, all of North America except an area of the Southwest, California, Nevada, Utah and a bit of western Arizona and Colorado.

A male whitetail is a big animal, three and a half feet tall, weighing up to 400 pounds. A female is much smaller, three feet tall and weighing 50 to 200 pounds. According to “A Field Guide to the Mammals (of North America) “the whitetail is the most important big game mammal of the East (North America).”

I hit a deer on the road once. I saw it, jammed on the brakes before I hit it. I knocked it down but didn’t appear to injure it badly. I stopped and as I was getting out of the car the deer got up and ran.

I had a deer hit me, my car, once. I saw it coming, running, up out of a ditch by the side of the road. It hit the side of my car. It didn’t appear to be injured and ran away but it knocked the outside mirror on the driver’s side off my car.

Whitetail deer weren’t as common when I was young as they are now. I grew up in Iowa and never saw a deer until I was a teenager. Then, one afternoon in a wooded area at the edge of town, an area where there was a two-lane gravel road and many birds, an area I visited often after I got a driver’s license, I saw and was thrilled to see, a whitetail buck.

There was a deer in the pasture for several weeks once. It appeared to have gotten into the pasture, then couldn’t get back out, couldn’t jump the fence. A healthy deer, particularly a male, a stag which this was, can jump a seven-foot fence I read, and our pasture fence is only five-foot. But there that deer was, going round and round just inside the fence. My daughter and I called it our pet deer. But one morning, when my daughter and I went to the pasture to see the my daughter’s horses our pet deer was gone.

I saved a deer from drowning once. It had broken through ice on a lake, was swimming, and appeared to be unable to get out of the water and back on the ice. It just kept slipping back when it tried to climb out of the water. Seeing it I got a flat bottomed boat, pushed the boat to the edge of the hole in the ice where the deer was, grabbed the deer by its antlers and hauled it out of the water and into the boat. Then I pushed the boat and deer to shore.

Deer, like other big game animals of North America, bison, moose, elk, were slaughtered unmercifully in pioneer days, before there were laws limiting hunting. They had not recovered by the time I was a boy which is the reason, I believe, I never saw a deer until I was a teenager. Now deer are common, probably the most common big game animal in North America, almost certainly the most widespread. I see deer often in spring and summer and not uncommonly in winter, not only in the field across the road from my home or beside the road or crossing the road when I’m driving, or this time of year a doe with a fawn or two, twins are common.

Neil A. Case

Neil A. Case

I have always liked the outdoors and birds and am a conservationist and an environmentalist. I don't write specifically about conservation but mix my opinion in with stories about a bird, a mammal, a plant or other outdoor subject. > Read Full Biography > More Articles Written By This Writer