By Barbara H. McKee, Grand Canyon.
THAT the buck mule deer at Grand Canyon, are very zealous in guarding their mates was amply demonstrated last November. As the rutting season advanced these bucks developed as usual, into powerful beasts with swollen necks and towering antlers. Their dispositions became quite pugnacious - a fact which was especially noticeable since during the greater part of the year these same animals are tame and gentle. Because of constant association throughout the year with the people of Grand Canyon Village, these mule deer even when their very nature changes, do not fear human beings, so it is the better part of valor for the people to avoid all love sick bucks.
One evening, just at dusk, a handsome buck was standing guard over one of his harem - a lame doe. Mrs. J. P. Brooks, the wife of the Chief Ranger, saw "Lamey" the doe, lying under the low hanging branches of some juniper trees and started down to give her a handful of raisins. Not until almost there did Mrs. Brooks notice the buck. At that very instant he lunged toward her, then snorted and stamped on the ground with his two front feet planted stiffly before him. Mrs. Brooks managed to reach her front porch in safety, and once inside the house became quite angry to think that one of her special pets of a few months previous should have forgotten all her kindnesses. Getting her broom, she decided to chastise him. She had no more than left the house, however, than the buck charged her again and she was forced to retreat. The next day rangers roped this over-zealous buck and dehorned him to avoid any accidents.
One other case of a buck mule deer offensively on guard was reported last fall, In this instance as in the other, the buck had his doe nearby and took exception to the presence of a human being. Ernest Ensor, trail caretaker at Indian Gardens in the Canyon, early one morning in November, went out to the deer and antelope feeding grounds and started to put hay into the racks. Without warning a huge buck which had been standing a short distance away, leaped over the feeding trough and catching Mr. Ensor by the arm and leg with its antlers, dragged him some 30 feet into the underbrush. The sleeve of Mr. Ensor's leather jacket and his shirt sleeve were torn and his arm was cut. Fortunately the other antler merely tore his trousers and did not penetrate to the skin.
In these two instances we see how the ordinarily timid and gentle deer becomes a creature of courage and passion when he believes his mate is in danger. Fortunately for us who live in close contact with these animals, their season of mating lasts for only a short time.
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