Survival on the Not So Fittest

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Sometime this past winter, we had a deer with a severely damaged front leg show up in our back yard. He was still managing to get around on three legs even running when required. Naturally, all the things we read said there was nothing you could do. Rehab places don’t try to deal with deer like this because trying to capture them is kind of hard and often ends up putting the animal under too much stress.

All of the sources said not to feed them. Kind of the “let nature take its course” scenario. Yeah, that’s not going to happen around here. So, we bought some corn and, when he came around, we’d toss down a few ears. He’d go away for a few days and then come back but at some point, he just stopped coming around.

We figured that was the end. Not a lot of natural predators around here. We get coyotes from time to time and a coyote might try to go after an injured deer. No, the biggest predator is the shiny metal boxes that go to fast on roads when the deer are moving around.

A couple of days ago, my wife made a comment about not seeing him and we both figured he was gone for good. Well, yesterday, I was out tossing some stuff to the raccoons (more on that later) and heard rustling from down the hill. Saw the face coming up the hill with the noticeable limp. Our three legged deer had survived the summer and returned.

The raccoons didn’t really like the intruder in their midst but they grabbed what they could and stayed out of his way. Went out to buy more corn today. I know, you aren’t supposed to feed them but, as I said before, that isn’t going to happen. Must be a pretty tough deer to have made it this far with only three working legs so why not help him along a little farther.

From the tiny antlers, we know he’s a male and appears to be a yearling. So we’ll see how long he sticks around. I think we are just an easy source of food but he is obviously not totally dependent on us.

With the raccoons, we did stop feeding them over the summer – even the cuteness of the babies wasn’t enough. But then we have a very late batch of babies that are still small and haven’t bulked up like the rest of them. Saw them sitting under the bird feeder waiting for the scraps the birds dropped. Couldn’t have that so we started tossing some peanuts down to them as well.

Not so worried about them though. I know raccoons don’t truly hibernate. They do rest during the colder months so it helps to bulk up. But, unless we get a long, cold winter with lots of snow, there is still plenty of food around. And they’ll pop out on warmer winter days to eat so I suspect these late babies will be fine.

Nature is indifferent. It is up to the various creatures to figure out how to survive. Guess we just like being a helping hand.

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