Marsha Morris took this photo at her West Golden Hills home of a California Mule Deer buck as it was getting a drink from a water feature that the Morrises keep in their yard to attract wildlife. While quail and rabbits are daily visitors, a variety of wild creatures visit from time to time, evidence of the vital importance of a dependable water source.
Though the autumn rut is largely over, most Mule Deer (Odocoileus hemionus californicus) bucks still retain their antlers, and will shed them in the weeks to come. Though it is difficult to see, the buck in this photo has an antler beam with two forks on its left side, while the right side beam has one forked branch and one that is a single tine. In the West this would considered a four-point buck, while in the East tradition calls for counting all tines (except the small eyeguards near an antler's base) so this would be a seven-point buck.
This image shows just how effective deer camouflage is: no part of the buck catches your eye immediately, and all of it blends in pretty well with its surroundings, though it is a 150-pound, 6-foot-long animal.
California Mule Deer thrive in the Tehachapi Mountains, and although there have never been systematic deer censuses conducted to determine the size of the population, their numbers seem to have actually increased in the past 40 years. Able to tolerate living right among human habitation, deer have benefited from additional food in the form of gardens and landscaping, as well as more water sources, hunting bans in residential neighborhoods and less likely predation from mountain lions.
Thee Nuwä (Kawaiisu or Paiute) word for buck deer is ayidä, pronounced eye-YID-uh.
NATURAL SIGHTINGS is a regular feature of the Tehachapi News edited by Jon Hammond which showcases photos of the natural beauty that enhances the quality of life in Tehachapi. If you have a good quality image of plants, animals, insects, trees, birds, weather phenomena, etc., taken in the Tehachapi area, you may submit it to the Tehachapi News for possible publication. Submissions can be dropped by the News office in the form of a print or CD, or sent by email to: firstname.lastname@example.org.