This post is in response to Pit’s questions about getting close to the deer in his yard in Texas. I’m on Vancouver Island and we have similar problems with the deer coming close because their natural habitat has been taken over. It is, strictly speaking, illegal to feed wild animals, but we feed birds all the time, and the deer in our area were so undernourished, their poor condition was enough to make a grown man cry. You could see the deer’s ribs and their fur was mottled and thin, marked all over by parasites that had taken up residence in their bodies. I said to the Captain, “You either have to shoot them and put them out of their misery, or we have to feed them.”
“Well, you can’t shoot around here, so I guess I’ll pick up some cracked corn at the feed store.”
At first I put piles of cracked corn on the grass. Then later I got some old pots and just set those out, so the corn didn’t get wasted in the grass. The deer soon got used to me as I crouched nearby while they ate. Each time they got more comfortable about me being there and finally they would eat from my hand. I’ve touched their cheeks and when the fawns were born, they brought them over and I touched their little faces. I’ve never felt fur so soft.
I know it was wrong to feed a wild animal, but these deer had nowhere to go and they were suffering, so the choice was easy. People had caused the problem, so people had to try to fix it. The next year, the deer were in much better shape. Two other neighbours farther down the road were also feeding them and it got the deer over the worst times when we had particularly harsh winters.
I haven’t fed the deer for several years now. This picture is 15 years old. But I would do it again if they looked needy.