Here's the Scoop: March 12, 2014

The hungry season
When it comes to whitetail deer, the term “wild animal” hardly seems appropriate. Sure, these creatures live in nature, but that seems to be end of the “wild” description.
Deer, as anyone who lives in these parts can attest, are pretty tame specimens. Cute, too, for the most part. They aren’t quite on a par with dogs and cats, but they sometimes seem kind of like pets — and are treated that way by some people who enjoy having deer visit their yards.
Of course, it’s unlikely that many deer are welcomed into people’s homes and beckoned to bed down in front of the woodstove. I don’t know of any evidence of this happening. Still, I’ve heard of stranger things.
I have, however, viewed un-Photoshopped evidence of bears having their sweet teeth satisfied with a trail of cookies leading right into someone’s house. This occurred not far from our home. Really. This is not a good idea. In fact, it qualified firmly as a bad idea. I was merely shown evidence that someone thought it was fun. I’m sure there will be an ugly ending to this situation when the cookie supply is depleted. Plus, we’ll get a news story out it!

Searching high & low
Anyhow, back to the deer. Given the relatively harsh conditions of this winter — a decent amount of snow and unrelenting cold that have kept a thick coating of snow on the most surfaces — dining conditions for deer have been far from ideal. Even those folks who hate deer (led by insurance agents, I’m guessing) must be feeling some compassion as they witness deer just about everywhere, desperate for some food to get them through until spring springs.
In recent weeks, roadways have been pretty much lined with hungry deer searching for any trace of food. This is bad for motorists (see insurance agent reference above). In addition, areas with a southern exposure looks like a subway station at rush hour — with the crowd populated by famished deer searching out just about any food source that has been uncovered by the sun.
The search for food naturally takes deer into yards. There, these animals can act perfectly civilized as they browse among many tasty choices. From what I’ve seen, they prefer to munch on plants that took hours of painstaking work to put in the ground — and were expensive to purchase.

Fresh (sort of) fruits & veggies
New this year, our compost bin has become a very popular feeding spot. Which got me wondering if deer get “asparagus pee”? I doubt it matters much to them, as they aggressively forage through the bin in search of anything remotely nutritious.
The good thing about the compost feeding is that the materials in there are destined to go “back to the earth” anyhow. The deer are just helping along the process — and getting some yummy, much-needed treats at the same time.
For those non-hunters, the compost bin cafeteria offers a rare glimpse of deer on an up close and personal level. It’s like being at the zoo — without the fences. Or admission prices. Of course, I guess the real cost to us will be when we have to buy and plant a bunch of new stuff in the gardens this spring. That’s going to cost some doe.
— Brian Sweeney