BLACK-TAILED DEER

 

Black-tailed deer seen in California. At China Camp State Park, two does and three spotted fawns are seen consistently in open, marshy meadow. At times, the fawns are seen suckling from doe. At times, these two does and three fawns are joined by a third doe and occasionally by two young bucks with small antlers. Higher up in the campground, a single doe and her fawn -- possibly one of the animals seen in the meadow -- are observed grazing in the forest.

Three black-tailed deer fawns run out of hiding to greet their mother. Though twins are most common, triplets are not rare.

A single black-tailed deer is seen moving up a thickly-vegetated slope in a foggy rain forest in Silkyone Wilderness State Park in California, along the same trail in which thirty Roosevelt elk are grazing.

On the same trail on 7/24, a black-tailed doe and her small, spotted fawn are browsing within view of two bull Roosevelt elk.

We startle a group of three or more black-tailed deer on the Lost Coast Trail on 7/24 while searching for a mountain lion spotted the day before. Two does are visible, and farther around the trail stands a majestic buck, his antlers coated in velvet. The does move cautiously away, but the buck only watches us go and does not move.

A black-tailed deer fawn nurses from its mother. Judging from the size of the fawn and the lateness of the year (late July), this is probably a rare occurrence.

Later on the same evening, a smallish doe and her large spotted fawn feed upon fallen apples beneath an apple tree right in our campsite. We are inside of a screen tent, so it is possible the deer do not associate our vague interior forms with dangerous humans. We can hear the crunching of the apples between their teeth. The doe seems more wary than her fawn. Both of them are still there when we leave for a hike.

On that hike we see a single doe grazing at the fringe of a eucalyptus forest at the base of a hillside covered in around 30 Roosevelt elk. When a nearby dog begins barking, the doe, very apprehensive, moves cautiously up the hillside, often pausing and staring intently at the grazing elk. Later, we see two very large black-tailed bucks -- both "forkies" (two points) -- moving up a sun-dappled Bear Harbor hillside (the same which elk are often observed). The bucks are nervous about our distant presence...they are the largest blacktails I've ever seen.

A black-tailed doe and her spotted fawn were observed in a clearing in a redwood forest at Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park on the Centennial Trees Trail an hour or so before dusk. The two deer move off nervously. A pairing of two apparently adult does is seen at the fringe of a redwood forest in the same park, across the road from Elk Prairie.

The black-tipped tail distinguishes this subspecies of the mule deer from more inland cousins.

Several black-tailed deer observed in apple orchards along highway about fifteen miles from Cloverdale, California on 7/27. One doe has two fawns with her; nearby is another doe, though we cannot see if she has any fawns. A large doe is walking along the fence near the apple orchard. Apples apparently appeal to these deer, for in Silkyone Wilderness a doe and her fawn continually visited our campsite to feast upon fallen apples.

Quite large herd of black-tailed deer seen along highway nearing Point Reyes National Seashore on 7/28. The deer were grazing in an open clearing along with large flocks of wild turkey. A smallish blacktail was seen by flashlight just outside our campsite near Point Reyes at 9:15 p.m. on the same date.

Two adult blacktail bucks on a coastal hillside (Sinkyone Wilderness, California)

On 7/29 black-tailed deer are observed in hilly grassland at Tomales Point in Point Reyes National Seashore, California, not far from breeding herds of tule elk. One solitary doe was seen by the road, and then three deer, a doe and two very dark fawns, were seen in a ravine. The two fawns were nearly black and had strange whitish markings, a coloration I've never seen on any deer before. Fallow deer were seen not far away.

A black-tailed deer fawn. Note the dappled coloration which allows the fawn to blend in with thick vegetation.

Also on 7/29, we saw large herds of black-tailed deer scattered across fields along the road leading to Point Reyes Lighthouse. There were also a handful of solitary deer.

On 7/30, black-tailed deer observed along highway nearing California's Central Valley. Solitary.

Many TRACKS observed both in China Camp State Park and in Silkyone Wilderness State Park, both in California.

 

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