862. Deer

Deer are so at home here at Asilomar that they barely move out of your way as you pass them. So please, when driving, keep your speed way down, as they will often be casually crossing the road. And please don’t approach or startle them. Although they appear tame, they are wild and can cause injury. Deer are the most common and widespread big game animals in California. The state’s native deer are called mule deer, because of their long ears. Those you see at Asilomar are black-tailed deer, a sub-species of the mule deer. Deer have rather poor eyesight, but their keen sense of hearing alerts them to danger. Bucks, or male deer, shed their antlers every year in winter. In the spring, they grow quickly back, covered with a velvety skin that the buck rubs off on trees. Contrary to popular belief, the number of points on a buck’s antlers doesn’t indicate his age, but the quality and abundance of his food. If you’re here in May, keep your eye out for little spotted fawns—that’s when they’re born. Mother deer may leave their small fawns unattended for up to fourteen hours at a time. As with all young animals, they are best left to themselves in their habitat. In most cases, the parents are closer than you may think.