| by Jennalee Rhodes

Deer Sheds and Other Things

At the end of March last year, I moved back to the US (from England) and began a months-long adventure/road-trip/cross-country move to join my fellow Outlaws in Grass Valley, CA.

Along the way, I had many adventures, a fair number of which were Western/Pioneer/Adventure-based, and I wanted to take this time in self-isolation to share some of the neat things I saw and did:


My younger brother works for the University of Texas at Austin in their Biology Department at the Brackenridge Field Laboratory research facility. In the entrance hall is a great article written up about an errant pregnant deer that made its way into the facility in the 90s and gave birth to twin boys.

Eventually, a deer population grew, being touted as the most inbred group of wild deer ever studied.

What I found super fascinating was the scientists' ability to track the deer and study their growth and propagation throughout the years. The researchers grew close to them, able to identify them from afar and even named them. They were able to identify the deer antlers and collected their sheds and eventually their last antlers, which are on display in the facility.

Eventually, the numbers became too large and they began controlling the population. Some of the elder deer were culled from the herd. Their herd social structure was unable to cope with the loss, and the younger deer were unable to defend themselves from the coyotes that had made their way into the research area. 

Soon the deer population was decimated. However, the years of information gathered has helped researchers learn of deer populations effects on their neighboring flora and fauna, as well as how to help control deer populations in the wild.

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