PSU Deer Study

I’ve found game cameras are the most fun when you use the video feature. Rather than getting snapshots in time, you see deer through a secret window and gain context. Videos allow you to study grooming behavior of does with fawns, or enjoy over an hour of two bucks sparring in front of your camera!

Today I’m sharing a series of videos from our camera set at a scrape. It’s breeding season and a doe shows up and beds down. Right in front of the camera!

Is she waiting for someone? Fifteen minutes go by and she’s still waiting.

A half hour goes by and she’s still waiting! The first time I watched I didn’t know why she jumped up and runs off. Then I had to laugh. Just wait for it…

I don’t think he knows he’s late yet. But in this next video he’s figured out what he missed.

As scientists we aren’t supposed to anthropomorphize the animals we study, but I couldn’t resist with these series of videos. Besides these aren’t “official” study animals.

From a (sort of) scientific standpoint, videos of deer behavior at scrapes shows how important scent communication is to deer biology. Males may scrape and pee on the ground and tangle with overhead branches, but the females are also sniffing and licking. We know of the many glands that are related to this behavior, but what exactly are the messages they convey and what do they mean? I’m not sure we can even begin to comprehend given that our noses can barely detect the scents that are being left at these communication centers.

-Duane Diefenbach

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