The frigid cold and snow have pushed deer into survival mode. As January passes and February begins, the winter season seems to stall and presents a challenging time for many species.
Deer are well-equipped to handle the cold. This photo of a doe in a snowstorm was sent by Richard Pavloski. It was taken two years ago on Game Lands in Mountain Top, and is evidence of how deer stay warm when the temperature plummets. Notice the snow accumulating on the deer’s back. The fact that it isn’t melting shows that very little body heat is escaping the doe’s body. The reason? A deer’s winter coat is comprised of hair that is straight and hollow, which actually traps heat and, coupled with a woolly undercoat, forms a layer of insulation.
Gary Cobb took a walk with his camera in early January and came across this group of doe bedded down in the snow. They are also demonstrating a winter survival technique. Did you ever notice a dog laying out in the summer sun likes to extend it’s legs out? Deer do the same thing as a means to disperse body heat on a hot day. In winter, deer curl their legs underneath their bodies to keep the heat tucked in and to somewhat elevate their bodies off the ground. This prevents the hair from flattening against the ground and losing its insulating properties.
It’s also interesting to note that a deer bed is a good indicator of the size of the animal that used it. In his book Whitetail Savvy, author Leonard Lee Rue III writes that a 40-inch bed indicates the deer is in the 125-pound range, while a 48-inch bed was made by a deer in the 200-pound class.
Capture anything interesting on your handheld or trail camera? A nice buck, bear, coyote or any other wildlife? We’d love to see it. Each week, we’ll run photos from a reader’s trail camera on the Sunday Outdoors page. Email your photo, along with date and area it was taken (township is fine), and any other details to firstname.lastname@example.org.
— Tom Venesky