Deer caught on camera

Hello and welcome to the latest blog from The Olivia Rose Diaries on January 27th 2023.

It’s 9am and in the woods that surround our field a deer is making its way through the tangled undergrowth. Our trail camera is attached to a tree not far away, and the movement of the deer triggers it. There is an imaginary silent click and a picture is stored on the SD card. Each time the animal moves it activates the camera, and as we sit in the cabin a few days later looking at these images on our laptop, we can hardly make the deer out through the dense latticework of twigs and branches. It blends perfectly into the background, and all we can see is a hint of its head or body. Can you find the head of the deer in the photo below?

Slowly it comes nearer and we realise that it has seen the camera. Warily it weaves its way closer, curious rather than scared, and now the camera is taking shot after shot. It is a male, the new season’s growth of antlers sprouting from his head, soft and velvety.

Deer grow and shed their antlers each year. The new growth is covered with a hair-like membrane called ‘velvet’, a term which aptly describes it, but this is a vulnerable stage as cuts or bruises sustained now can result in deformed antlers later. The antlers grow and die in a cycle that ensures the deer will have a mature set of antlers for the breeding season. At the beginning of the cycle they are composed of a mixture of water and dry matter, with the water being the major component. The dry matter is made of protein, calcium and phosphorous. As the summer draws to an end growth slows and the antlers begin to harden. The velvet sloughs off, or is rubbed off, often within just twenty-four hours, resulting in hard, polished antlers. Now the deer is ready for the breeding season, well-equipped to fight other males. His antlers are also a sign that he is a male of quality, a visual testament to his strength and virility. After the breeding season the cells located at the point where the antlers are attached to the head begin to demineralize, weakening the connection and allowing the antlers to fall off. We have often looked for antlers in the woods and never found any. The reason is that the protein and calcium content is attractive to rodents, and they are usually devoured very quickly once they have fallen.

Coming back to our own deer he has taken a few steps forward and is looking directly at the camera, although sadly a little out of focus.

There is a bare patch on his neck where he has rubbed at the fur, and we can see the detailed nuance of colour on his snout as he pushes it tentatively closer. There is a wide-eyed innocence about him as those big black eyes seem to gaze directly at us and then, slowly and calmly, he moves on, fading into the forest like some magical creature.

We rely on this trail camera to give us an insight into a hidden world, one we would never see otherwise. In the past we have seen a fox with its head held high, a dead chicken between its jaws, and a flash of a stone marten, there for a second and then gone. We have seen a wild boar, or rather the rump of a wild boar as it jumped over a fallen tree and disappeared into the darkness. They live in groups, but we have only ever seen a lone animal. The camera has also picked up the hunting dogs, and even the hunters themselves, treading carefully, paying no heed to the fact that they were on private land. Many of the pictures were taken at night, or the early hours of the morning, using infra red and it has been a reassuring barometer of the wildlife that still survives here.

A few months ago, on one of our previous visits to Le Shack Michael walked up to check on the camera and found that the SD card was gone. This puzzled us, not just because of how it might have happened but who would have taken it. It could not have accidentally fallen out and it was on our land in a stretch of woodland with no footpaths. We later found out that the hunt also use trail cameras to monitor the movements of the animals, so perhaps they took it, mistaking it for one of their own cameras. We shall never know. We have purchased a new SD card and are locating it in a different area. For now, it remains intact.

Our other piece of exciting news this week is about Michael and his drawings. As I write this blog he is sitting opposite me constructing his shop on Etsy, a process that requires a lot of huffing and puffing as it is obviously turning out to be more complicated than we originally thought. However, he is winning and we soon hope to provide you with the link so that you can have a look at a selection of prints, and also digital downloads, that will be for sale. His website is also nearly finished and commissions for pet portraits will be available. I will keep you posted!

Here is a sneak preview of his drawing of deer in our field.

Hope all is well with you and see you soon.


10 thoughts on “Deer caught on camera

  1. Fascinating information and wonderful images of the deer with his sprouting antlers. We have deer around here that breed regularly and wander around the field behind our house at dusk. It’s always magical to see them.


  2. How fun to have a deer discover your camera. 🙂 My son is the only person I know who has a knack of finding antlers, including a partial one of a moose! I’ve thought of getting a trail cam, but haven’t done much research into it. It would be fun to see who are animal neighbors are. Have a great week!


  3. Michael should remember finding a number of antlers we found near Applecross in Scotland, which proudly ended up on the roof rack of our VW camping bus.


  4. Love the photos of the deer. We fitted a trail camera at the top of the farm when we had logging going on, (watching in case anyone stole any)!!! and it’s surprising what appears on there. We have also picked up deer. They are beautiful, but when you have a pack of around 8 / 10 they can be a bit of a nuisance!! We have found many antlers which have come off, some large and some surprisingly small? It is lovely to see all the different wildlife though, and we have picked up owls, bats, buzzards, kites, fox and deer. We actually had our whole camera taken though. We went to collect the card after a weekend away and it had disappeared. Likely someone that shouldn’t have been around here had seen the light come on and taken umbrage!! Ah well……. Exciting news for Michael on Etsy …… Take care both. A and G xx


    1. Hi Ann. You certainly have an abundance of wildlife there! Good old Wales, and no hunters. Although obviously thieves and people up to no good by the looks of it. You should start an antler business!


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