This 2 year old deer buck from our local herd walked into our yard with an arrow shot through his back. The tree branch, caught on the arrow, probably broke off a tree and got attached as he ran through the woods after being shot. After we first saw him shot (the first scene in this video), he walked into the woods, and we did not see him until five days later when we saw him laying behind our garage in a safe place that fawns often like for hiding. He still had the arrow through his back. Using what I guess could be called onomatopoetic-morphology, we decided to call this buck Aaron. For about a week, we saw Aaron every day, still with the arrow. He was previously always a very wary deer, and unlike two or three other deer we know well, Aaron would pass through our yard, eat a little grass and clover, and move on. If we walked near him, he would quickly run away. Now he was hanging out in the yard a bit more, and seemed a bit more curious about us. There was no way we could help him, because as curious as he was, he never let us get close to the arrow. Every time we saw him, the arrow was in a different position. Perhaps hitting branches as he ran through the woods, sometimes the feathered end of the arrow stuck out longer, sometimes the pointed end was longer. The point of this arrow had expandable double blades, and those sharp blades dug into his flesh when the point came close to his back. We could not see how he could easily remove the arrow himself, even through some lucky circumstance. However, two weeks after he was shot, Aaron came through the yard without the arrow. The wound on the top of his back, where the pointed end broke through, was large and open, but already beginning to heal. We have no clear idea of how he got the arrow out (we have some guesses), but the process left him with a large wound on his back and a very small entry wound on his side. Deer have a remarkable healing ability. Their nervous systems actually "isolate" injured areas of the body so the deer does not receive intense sensations of pain, and can still function if the injury is not immediately life threatening - searching for food or finding a safe resting place. Aaron demonstrated that ability. We’ve seen a number of deer with wounds, most likely from mountain lions or coyotes, or severe scrapes, probably from hitting branches as they flee through the woods. It is remarkable to see how they react to injuries, and even more remarkable how quickly they can heal themselves.
For those who have watched our Deer in the Yard videos, just to be clear, this deer is not Yoda. However, we haven't seen Yoda in a over a month (we've seen him almost every day of his life before now). More deer are killed in our area by mountain lions than by hunters, but it is hunting season. Aaron, the buck in this video, like all the other older bucks, travel in wider circles mostly away from the females and fawns. Yoda was an exception. He always traveled with his mother Eva and her small group of females and fawns, and their daily migration path is very small and always near to homes, where hunting is not legal. Deer in our immediate area are more threatened by mountain lions, coyotes and cars, and so we really don’t know what happened to Yoda. We certainly miss seeing the guy.
When I first started writing this description a month ago, I was thinking wistfully that Yoda was just wandering for a few days. That was certainly wishful thinking, but deer do have an unusual habit of periodically wandering off from their daily circle migration, and heading out alone to explore. Eva, the deer we’ve known the longest, disappears for some days once or twice a year. Perhaps this is some genetic impulse to check out better food and mates, but it does seem to add to their majesty and mystery - the idea that they like to explore. Watch our videos, and you'll see they certainly are curious about everything in their environment - and they are clever. The only reason they spend so much time in our yard is that they feel safe. As much as we observe them, they observe us more. They’ve watched everything we do, and they have figured out that our daily routine in our yard is no more of a threat than having a rabbit or bird nearby. A few deer have figured out that our “grooming” technique is really nice, and they will nudge us for a rub the same way they do to other members of their herd. When they lick our hands, we can feel a little of what the deer must feel - it’s a very scratchy hard strong tongue that I’m sure does a good job on fur, but, as I say, a few of the more clever deer have figured out that getting a massage with fingers is also nice.
Music in the video from Starseed:
An excerpt from "Lakshmi Smiles" - recorded live in concert on September 21, 2014
For the full story, and more photos and videos,
see the Deer in the Yard web pages: