Watching deer interaction is pretty fascinating. When you first see a herd - it's just a mob, doing whatever animals do. They move around, eat, sleep, run at times, who knows why? But then if you live close or work with them, you have a chance to dive deeper into the world of deer relationships.
Babushka, Top10 and FluffyDuck together in the yard
You discover, that deer have a hierarchy, and that there’s always this little ‘game of thrones’ going on, who is the boss, who is the 2nd in command boss, who’s the 3rd most dominant buck and who’s the vice-most-important-buck-the-3rd… from the bottom. 🙂
Does (doe - female deer) also compete for dominance amongst themselves, and display it towards fawns, both male and female ones. But then they get ‘revenge’ as male fawns get bigger and start bossing old mamas around.
Peculiar development with Babushka, the eldest doe and FluffyDuck, the youngest one, took place not so long ago. They both spent a lot of time together in our special paddocks close to our house, where only a few deer usually get allowed in. Enhanced supplemental feeding and treats, really like a deer resort. Usually for does that aren’t looking too good, older ones, mostly, and was for FluffyDuck too, as she was born to an old and weak mother, who later died.
The dynamic seemed to have been good between the two. They’d often be spotted sitting close by. But then I started seeing some weird behavior from Babushka. She was running around the paddock displaying what is usually worry and submission. I’d first thought the old girl went off her rocket. I thought Fluffy was just following her as fawns follow mothers, for safety. As in "Babushka runs - I run, she's older so she knows better".
But then one day I noticed that she was being not followed but chased by FluffyDuck. Understandably, young deer love to play and run around, but for some odd reason she also developed a taste for Babushka running away from her in fear. She even infected Babushka's own fawn with this idea that it's fun to make old girls go for some geriatric jogging.
I’d expelled the little bugger for a day, then let her in again. And the same behavior repeated. Gave her 2 days off to ‘cool off’ but upon coming back into the yard with Babushka, after having her feed, FluffyDuck started bothering her again. And that was all on her own, Charcoal (the other fawn on the video above) wasn't around.
So now she’s only being treated with some carrots and bread occasionally from behind the fence, having lost her admission privileges.
Babushka does well in the company of the several mature does, like 174, Red, Junkie, Double Trouble, obviously (that’s her ‘best mate’), and recently also with this young one called Top10. They often stay just the 2 of them and there’s no conflict whatsoever. Oh but come Junkie and sometimes her and Top10 have an issue as Junkie is trying to establish herself as matriarch with priority access to food. But then if there’s babushka and Top10 inside, and 174 comes in, Top10 has a bit of an issue at first and tries to show 174 her place.
Oh deer! … but what you gotta do? Does will be does.
So there’s your little insight into the world of these animals’ relationships.
Published 09 September 2023