A massive group from the family Cervidae have settled and are quite visible all over the Downriver area. In other words, there are a lot of deer around here. Their presence has garnered emotions ranging from the likes of wonder, annoyance, dislike and appreciation — quite a variation of opinion.
A group of deer are commonly referred to as a herd of deer, and sometimes a mob of deer. I guess you might call a group of male deer a stag party. In these parts nothing begs our attention as much as these four legged creatures — certainly their larger frames stand out compared to the smaller animals in this habitat.
No one ever says, “Hey, look at those three squirrels!” But when deer are sighted you often hear, “Quiet, look at those three deer!” If you’re driving through a neighborhood, you might pull over just to watch them in action.
There are some areas deer seem to prefer Downriver; they love all the local golf courses, not because they’re enthusiasts of the sport, but for the abundance of grass and foliage that attracts their appetites. A lovely sight on the golf course is watching them chowing down, or gliding gracefully across a wide fairway, and then disappearing into the brush. I once saw a doe and her two fawns in the distance before teeing off. I paused and waited. I know it is proper golf etiquette to yell, “Fore,” but the deer wouldn’t understand, because there were only three of them.
A favorite eatery local deer dine at is along West Jefferson, especially around Pennsylvania road — north of the old Firestone plant and south of Wyandotte Shores Golf Course. Animals often also act as mavericks, going it alone.
One peculiar sighting was on Riverside Drive near West. A 12-point deer was seen prancing along at around 2:15 a.m. going toward Elizabeth Park. I just shrugged this off, as he probably missed last call at TV’s Grand Event that night. Mary McFarland spotted what she thought had the characteristics and size of an elk going south on I-75. Her friends scoffed at this, saying, “There are no Elks in this area!” I reminded them that she may not be off; they have their own club on the corner of Telegraph and Van Horn roads.
Then there were two doe sitting on the lawn at my residence just as it became dark. We stared at each other for 10 minutes with them barely twitching, but I guess they won the contest, because I went inside. Not only do they not fear us, but they have a sort of a mentality of outdoor squatters’ rights. Perhaps we should credit them with more intelligence than they’re saddled with. The term “deer in the headlights” might really mean if they could speak, “Hey dude, turn off your brights!”
You just never know where you will run into them next … literally. There are places you don’t expect to meet them by accident, like Eureka and Allen, where one of my friends hit one. Another friend was hit while stopped on his motorcycle in Brownstown, which was almost fatal. Indeed one can see that the coexistence with these beautiful creatures is not an easy one. Did you know that upwards of 500 motorcyclists are killed in the USA by deer annually? The other point of contention is that deer have an insatiable appetite for residents’ flowers and vegetation.
Consider the dilemma of one Rose Allin of Kenora, Ontario. Not only did the deer eat all her flowers, but they managed a way to ring her doorbell and wake her up every morning. One day she had enough and decided to chase them off with her stick, only to be met by the group of four-leggers scratching the ground and snorting at her, as if to say, “Lady, we’ve eaten everything out here. Time for you to start planting more!” Rose thought better and retreated into her home. I told you they were smarter than you think.
Doug Henry runs a landscaping business on Grosse Ile and told me there are products that act as flowers available that deer will not approach. Many GI residents have also invested in different fencing that keep deer away from their gardens and plants. Driving on Grosse Ile, the natives cling to their steering wheels, always mindful of deer darting out from any direction, ruining each others’ day, with no control of the situation.
One lady told me how a doe broadsided her vehicle when being chased by a buck, and she was traumatized by the death of the doe, not to mention the extensive damage to the whole side of her vehicle.
This is the biggest reason for control of the deer population. Deer culling is a very touchy subject but it is a necessity sometimes. I, like most, truly love having them around, but public safety is the No. 1 concern for our coexistence with deer, and keeping them at a healthy, safe population is another.
Tony Mazzella welcomes readers to friend him on Facebook, where he frequently shares recollections about some of the interesting people and businesses in Trenton’s past.