27 June 2007

Rubbin' Elbows With the Experts

The Oak tree in our front yard is majestic... at least four feet in diameter and forty feet tall.
I'm afraid to guess how old it is. (Old!) Every few years it bears acorns the size of plums. Squirrels find and bury some of those for a future meal. They bury more than they can eat, so in the Spring, many Oak seedlings seem to stick their heads into the sunlight overnight.

Three years ago I made note where four of them were with the intention of transplanting them to places on our property where they'd have a better chance of becoming a mighty Oak like their predecessor. A couple days later when I got the mower out to mow the lawn I noticed they were gone. I was puzzled, but in the rush to get the mowing done, quickly forgot about it. I wish now my memory had served me better.
This year it happened again. Three seedlings popped up, and I actually marked them by poking sticks in the ground around them to insure I didn't mow them down by accident. Again, when I began my mowing duties, the seedlings had magically disappeared. I think I know why they disappeared... they were stolen from me. And I think I know the culprit. You can see her pictured above. She's a beauty, but she'll steal from you when you're not lookin'.

I grew up in Central Indiana. I lived in the same house, in the same rural community for 18 years. Never in all that time did I see a whitetail deer, dead or alive. Now when I go back to visit my old stomping grounds, it's out of the ordinary to make the trip without seeing several dead Does alongside the road, killed by cars or trucks.
I puzzled over the fact that I couldn't remember deer in our community while growing up, and even asked several friends that were hunters about it. None had a satisfactory answer for me. So I did a little digging and found the explanation is pretty much what you might guess, covered pretty well in this article.
Left unanswered is what caused the population to be "pushed to extinction" by the 1930's...
one can only assume it was caused by over-hunting. I'm pleased to read that in Indiana the numbers of deer are decreasing. That's not true here in my present State of residence...
they are real nuisance, and the numbers of them dead alongside the road is frightening and sad.

As you know, I just finished the work I'm lucky to be able to do annually... herd geese with biologists with our State Department of Natural Resources. Within this group you can find an expert on most anything that lives in our State... Geese, Ducks, Deer, Wild Parsnip, Oak trees, etc.. So when I have questions I need answerin', I'll try to remember to ask one of the experts while we're drinkin' an adult beverage after we've finished harassing the geese for the day.

Some years ago, Big Bubba took Tae Kwon Do lessons at a facility that was co-located with an archery shooting range. While Big Bubba was working out, I'd bide my time watching the archers shooting at targets. On the wall of that store was a map of our State, showing deer concentrations. Two of the Counties were depicted in red, and my County was one of them. Checking the legend, I found that meant that deer population in my county was "greater than 25 per square mile". I mentioned my vanishing Oak seedlings and the deer population poster to one of the biologists one night last week, and it produced a strange smile...
"Greybeard, I'd be surprised if the deer population in your County wasn't 200 per square mile!"

Holy Cow.
It takes a lot of Oak seedlings and other "Deer snacks" to feed those kind of numbers!
(As I finished writing this post, a Doe rambled across our back yard from one treeline to another!)

1 comment:

mkquilts said...

I lived in Illinois for 19 years. The last 12 years of which I lived near a forest preserve so I saw mnay white-tailed deer on a regular basis. I also lived in the migratory flight path for the Canada geese. Since I moved to California in 1988 the only time I've seen deer is when I've been out of state or up near Monterey, CA. I miss seeing them although I do agree that they are a problem in some areas.
I envy you the job of "herding" the geese. I'd love to have been along. Geese are so majestic and interesting to watch.