While not catching trout the other day, I was joined on the stream by three deer. They just appeared out of the woods about 60 yards down stream, stood there looking around for a few minutes, then crossed the stream single file and disappeared in the brush on my side of the stream.
"They sure don^t look much like pigs anymore," I thought to myself.
I know a lot of hunters and other outdoorsmen will say they never did look like pigs, but that^s because they haven^t lived long enough to see them when they looked like pigs.
Scientist say that the whitetail deer evolved from porcinelike ancestor that stood about 18 inches high and they have dug up enough fossils to prove it.
Before you go running off to check with Webster, porcinelike means piglike.
When I first heard that from one of those biologist fellers, I had to stop an think about it for quite a while. While I know a person that shot a pig and said he thought it was a deer, I kind of suspect he wasn^t telling the whole truth.
There^s just no way a person could mistake a pig for a deer.
But if you really think about it, these very distant cousins do have a lot of similarities.
They both have short body hair, compact bodies, keen sense of smell, elongated face, low tolerance to heat, short tail, inability to sweat, and they both make the same kinds of sounds (snorts and grunts). Even their legs are similar except that the deer^s are much longer.
The book says that both pigs and deer belong to the Order Artiodactyla. An order is a classification of animals that falls between class and family. You can look it up.
If the book says pigs and deer are kin, I guess it has got to be so. I wonder sometimes.
Scientist also say that whitetail deer have been known to eat meat even though they are considered vegetarians. I guess if they used to be pigs, they will eat anything.
To prove that deer would eat anything, a bunch of these scientist got together and went through the stomachs of 1028 deer killed on the roads of Pennsylvania. Besides having one gooey mess they found out that deer eat a lot of different plants. They found sample of 57 different kinds of trees and shrubs and 41 different kinds of non-woody plants, including such things as beans, cabbage, cantaloupe, carrot, corn, lettuce, oats, potato, rye, soybean, strawberry,tomato and wheat.
Did you ever think that maybe groundhogs get too much blame for thinning out the family garden patch?
The thing that surprised me was the different kinds of fruit they found in the deer^s stomachs. I knew they like apples, but I never thought about them eating cherries, blueberries, grapes and blackberries. Can you imagine picking blackberries with your lips? I look like the loser in a cat fight when I pick them by hand.
Scientist have also found that deer eat a lot of dried leaves, especially in the winter time and even when there is more nutritional food around. I know they missed the ones in my yard. I raked and burned enough leaves early this spring to feed half the deer in the state.
When I get to thinking about what the scientist tell us about deer, I remember a project conducted by biologists in South Dakota a few years back.
They captured an 8-point buck and put a radio transmitter on it so that they could know where it was at all times. They also put tags in its ears and attached bright orange streamers before releasing it in an area open to public hunting.
For the first four days of the season, the biologists watched hunters work the area were he lived. At times the hunters passed within 40 yards of where the deer was hiding. At other times, the hunters glassed the open draw where the deer was lying within 150 yards of the animal was never seen.
On the fifth day, hunting pressure became nil, so the biologists decided to see whether they could get a look at him.
Locating him with receivers, two men walked into the area and kicked several does out into the open, but the buck simply stayed in the bottom of the draw and all that was seen were his tracks.
On returning to the directional receivers, it was learned that all the deer did was shift about 100 yards to the west and into a side draw. Another drive and again all that was found were his tracks.
Later in the afternoon a third man came in and the three spent the rest of the afternoon trying to get a look at the buck.
This seemed to be child^s play. Even though he had been pin-pointed, by the time the men left the radio receivers and walked 100 or 150 yards to the area, the buck had vanished. This went on for three more days.
After recruiting two additional men, it still took the five persons a whole day to find the deer, even though the buck^s general location was known at all times. The man who finally caught up with the deer actually stumbled onto him accidentally while returning from an area where the buck was supposed to be.
So it was that a large, trophy buck, handicapped by bright orange markers and a directional signal, went completely undetected for nine days. He was not seen from the time the transmitter was attached to him until he was stumbled upon nine days later.
Do you think maybe those biologists were looking for a pig instead of a deer?