Wet snow fell this morning, and then it melted as soon as it hit the ground. Just a few hundred feet up the hill the snow is laying heavily on the trees. It is much nicer to be walking through wet brush than slogging through soggy, slushy snow, so lower elevations are more pleasant.
The deer think so, too.
This yearling is fighting an internal battle between caution and curiosity.
The fawns hang with Mamma Deer for the first winter. In late May they usually get booted because the new fawn will be born soon. This yearling has two more months to learn from Mom about territory, food, dangers, and the social world of Sitka Blacktail deer in Southeast Alaska. Then Mom is going to get grouchy. At first this little deer will be confused about Mom's laid-back ears and short temper, but it will eventually get the hint and go on it's own way.
Right now, though, the bushes are starting to bud and taste good, Mom is nearby, and the human taking pictures is the only concern.
Which deer is that in the photo below?
The doe is a little taller, but it is difficult to tell the size of a deer that is in the brush. Her face is longer and straighter.
The short nose and dish face of the one below show that it is a youngster.
The first and third photos above are the yearling. On a front view it's forehead is more rounded than an adult deer.
The heavy winter hair is starting to itch.
Scratch, scratch, lick, lick.
The scratching could also be a sign that the yearling is nervous. The doe is browsing contentedly on wintergreen and new buds. She is very aware that I am watching them. I talk to her very softly, telling her that she and her teenager are beautiful. She flicks her ears and continues to eat.
The blueberry bushes have turned brilliant red. Elderberry and salmonberry bushes are starting to bud out.
The deer mosey slowly along, and the yearling turns several times, stepping up on a small rise and looking at me.
Hoping that your springtime is budding delightfully!