Stories on Lowell Road, March 3, 2015

lowell1Seven deer this morning. They’re around in the morning and evening, sometimes joined by as many as 10 others. Burlap is covering a native tree, replanted after last year’s newly-planted trees were eaten to the ground.

lowell2The deer are very tame and curious. Here we’re looking at each other through the living room window

lowell3The deer come to Newport Creek, which runs along the property. There have been as many as 17 deer here.

Deer droppings are everywhere.
lowell6This is how deer browse looks. This chewing has taken away this spring’s blossoms on the kousa dogwood, one of the shrubs termed “rarely eaten” on the deer lists. The dogwoods, planted 10 years ago, had reached beautiful proportions, however this winter the deer have reduced their size by about half and chewed off most of what would have been the flower buds.

lowell7Along the property line, the neighbor’s Green Giant arbor vitae, sold as “deer resistant,” are skeletons. From the Washington Post article titled Fewer and fewer plants are truly deer-resistant, Joel M. Lerner, gardening columnist, February 19, 2011. “Deer are pests that eat arborvitae, but green giant arborvitae is the only one that I’ve planted that has not been damaged by deer. They will taste it but apparently don’t like the flavor.” Apparently Ann Arbor deer DO like the flavor.

lowell8Across the street, neighbor Warren, wintering in Florida, will be surprised that deer have taken off the tops of his spreading junipers. Everything that used to be poking up through the snow has been stripped.

lowell9Back in January, a neighbor took a photo of deer in Warren’s yard. He sent the photo to neighbors and to Sabra Briere. Note the snow “mushrooms” which are burlap-wrapped yews. Warren wrote: “I burlap-wrapped the 22 yews in my front yard for the winter. These past five years the deer have “trimmed” off all the new growth, so I might not be able to save them.”

lowell21The snow-topped burlap wrappings of 21 of his yews are still in place, but one has lost its covering. That one is considerably smaller than the others, completely denuded of any needles.

lowell22 how the tree looks with nary a needle.

lowell23Here are the deer tracks around the yew.


lowell24As I left Warren’s yard, I paused to take a photo of these arbor vitae. They are eaten up to the line that deer can reach, just a little short of the eaves on the garage.

Story from Clair Circle, near Mixwood and Newport Rd.

Deer are making their beds in this small woodlot, herding during the cold, snowy nights. At times, there have been as many as a dozen.

Deer leave their calling cards across the lawn, and deer seeking food look for perennials under the snow. They dig for the nourishment they cannot find from easier sources.

The owner of this property wrote: “The deer are eating hemlocks branches, evergreen branches, any and all “deer resistant” shrubs and trees, underbrush, bark off trees, branches on trees, birdseed, and pretty much anything that is available.” Later she wrote: “My back yard looks like a barnyard. I walked out by our garden sheds this weekend and the place is trashed—poop & pee everywhere, bedding nests everywhere. I’ve lived at this address since 1999 and have NEVER, ever seen it like this.

Drone flights over Ann Arbor in search of deer

UAV flights over Ann Arbor in search of deer. Many deer tracks are seen in the snow, and they are especially dense in wooded areas, but few deer are visibile on this day (3/2/15). We are flying mostly at 100 feet.

I am only going to load one of the videos.
You don’t see many (if any) deer but lots of tracks.
Also notice the Evergreens. Bottom branches are bare, much of the lower trunks are showing.

Drone videos and photos: Steve Winchester

And Flyover video and pictures

The future is here– Droning on!

A2 deer by drone – March 2, 2015

I was up over a few areas yesterday. First spot was Onondaga, between Geddes and Hill. I had noticed many thousands of deer tracks there in the snow, then saw four deer in a backyard bedded down. Up I went and….I couldn’t see any deer. They were under dense pines and shrubs, or elsewhere. The tracks tell quite a story though, being a life long hunter with over 40 years experience I have to say I’m shocked at the sheer amount of “sign” left by deer in the snow and the damage to vegetation I observed. If I saw these signs in my hunting woods, I’d be jumping for joy knowing I would fill my freezer fast with venison!

Second area, Off Glazier Way on Wolverhampton Ln. Again, no deer to be seen anywhere. Tracks by the tens of thousands, very heavy deer trails in almost every wooded area and lawn I flew over.

Third area, just west of the above spot, across Huron Parkway in the north end of Arborcrest Memorial Park grounds. There were deer (does) standing all around, 6 or 7 scattered about. Going up and just over the treetops I could only see some of them, they simply disappear under the pines. Again, the tracks tell the story, the place is overrun and most shrubs are decimated by browsing.

Unfortunately it appears the only accurate way to do this from drone, or aircraft, is with FLIR. Which is what I thought, as that’s how the “pro’s” do it. I will try again soon in different lighting, at a different time of day. Overcast yet not too dark, is what may work the best. Looking back at past photo’s and video’s I see subdued lighting seems to provide the best contrast for picking them out of the snow. Still, FLIR is really the only way to get actual numbers.

What may be helpful to me is, if I knew exactly where they are, where they “yard up” together. If you have information from homeowners as to where those areas may be, let me know!

I’ve attached some photos taken from the video and have arrows pointing out what deer I did see. Some of these photos show the heavy prints in the snow in yards.

All for now!

Hissing and stomping their hooves

We are on Navarre Circle and we have 5-8 deer several times a day. Every yew and evergreen we and neighbors have are bare branches now–they have been eaten to nubs. Yesterday they were hissing and stomping their hooves at me! I’ve never heard a deer hiss before, and it was the first time I saw them dancing on their hind legs to reach higher up on an evergreen bush!

How deer weather the cold

John J. Woods, January 18, 2013
White-tailed Journal

white tail deer numbers in winterWhite-tailed deer are resilient survivors. Their numbers have expanded wildly over the past 100 years, primarily because they are highly adaptable. They beat adversity at virtually every turn of environmental fate. Over time they have withstood and recovered from much of the worst that Mother Nature could throw at them, including naturally occurring resource famines resulting from droughts, floods or wildfires charring prime whitetail habitats. Then there are the tornadoes that ravage and uproot exceptional forest, field and lowland habitats. Consider the habitat damage done by hurricanes Katrina and others and their devastating impact on deer. In every one of these cases, however, the whitetail herds rebound. We might call that “staying power.” White-tailed deer certainly have that, among numerous other traits that compel them to withstand virtually every natural pitfall.

The Seasonal Exception

There is one huge red mark in the whitetail ledger book. It’s a rather simple turn of nature, but its impact is certain, far-reaching and consistent. It’s winter. Cold weather can wield a cruel yet predictable influence on deer behavior, herd health and survival rates for does and bucks, adults and yearlings.

Obviously a harsh winter in Minnesota, Michigan or Wisconsin and its frigid conditions with landscape-starving ice and snow might be more treacherous for deer than a winter in Texas or Mississippi, but cold temperatures exact a toll on deer in different ways in different parts of the country. Deer behavior changes accordingly.

Research by Jon Stone in Texas and T. R. Michels ( in Minnesota illustrates deer activity in relation to temperature. Minnesota deer move more in lower temperatures, while Texas deer move more in warmer temperatures. However, there are upper and lower limits that tend to restrict deer movements. This is vital information for hunters to calculate into their winter hunting strategies.

Whitetails react differently in cold weather no matter where they live. Hunters must learn what deer do to survive and how they react to ever-changing winter atmospheric conditions. Comprehending exactly how deer alter their usual seasonal behaviors to adjust to winter conditions can make the difference in filling a tag. Completely grasping this information is essential for being consistently successful at hunting deer in cold temperatures and inclement winter weather.

For example, whitetail researcher Charles Alsheimer reports, “We’ve learned deer can bed as much as 90 percent of the time in winter, and as little as 30 percent of the time during the rut.” Deer observations might decline during cold spells, but the animals have to move sometime. The key is discovering the most likely times that deer will finally be on the move for the day. Deer hunters should learn these winterizing behavioral habit changes. They can then apply this knowledge to how they hunt cold-weather deer. This subtle biological behavioral information can yield surprisingly positive results at the meat pole as well as the trophy room.

The Chill Factor

Cold weather is more than a low air temperature. An energy-sapping cold winter temperature can actually be a combination of several atmospheric factors that merge together to create the full bone-chilling impact on deer and hunters alike. When most or all of these factors come together at the same time, the results on deer, even over a relatively short period of time, can be devastating to herd health, rutting activity and ultimate survival through the winter.

Regardless of a whitetail’s range, it is certain that one or more of these winter climate factors will occur at the same time. The more factors added to the mix, the tougher it is on the deer to sustain themselves. Hunters certainly need to understand these factors, too, and how they impact hunting opportunities and strategies.

These various climate elements include actual air temperature, wind speed, wind direction, cloud cover, dew point, humidity, barometric pressure, wind chill, thermal currents and precipitation including type, quantity and duration. Real cold is made up of a lot of things, with each adding its own extra degree of discomfort to deer and deer hunters.

A Texas research project conducted by Jon Stone involved whitetail observations relative to wind speed. The study shows a direct relationship between deer activity and wind velocity. The harder the wind blew, the less deer moved around. The break point in wind speed seemed to be around 15 miles per hour. Consider, then, about adding, say, a freezing 32 degrees on top of that. Hunters will want to monitor air temperatures as well as wind speed when deciding hunting tactics for the day.

The weather information presented here is not a short course in meteorology. However, deer hunters must recognize and learn to appreciate how various weather elements can affect deer behavior in the winter. The weather can change travel habits, feeding rituals, yarding practices and bedding area choices, and it can completely alter deer’s normal activity schedules.

How Deer Weather The Winter

Whitetails have a number of physiological attributes that are naturally oriented toward environmental adaptation aimed at survival. These genetic characteristics really kick in during long, cold winters. This is true across the country, from the Far North to the Deep South.

As summer mellows toward fall and then into winter, the photoperiod daylight cycle becomes shorter. This triggers a whole series of biochemical changes in deer that research has shown to be responsible for a wide variety of signals being switched on in a deer’s neurological and biochemical systems, instinctively preparing it for the changing seasons.

These changes also prompt such activities as territory-marking, including rubbing, scraping and scenting, and the actual rut breeding sequence behaviors. Other changes are designed to get deer ready to withstand Mother Nature’s worst.

Whitetails sensing the slow drift toward winter will begin to eat more and more to add fat layers all around their bodies. These fat stores will carry them through the rut and lean times as the dead of winter wears on. Such gorging is prevalent in northern states, where deer are typically much larger with greater body mass and weight than deer in other parts of the country. However, deer everywhere do this to one degree or another. We even see these heavy fat layers on does and bucks at our skinning racks in Mississippi.

Deer also shed their lightweight “red” summer coats, replacing them with a heavy darker gray coat of hollow, insulating hair engineered to absorb more thermal heat from the sun. The winter fur coat also helps to retain body heat, burn stored body fat slower, and conserve calorie expenditure from exposure to the elements. The metabolism of whitetails also slows down to rates that permit the further saving of caloric burn-off and body energy.

Deer will also do a number of other things, albeit instinctively, in winter to protect themselves. For instance, whitetails will hide out in dense cover, preferably on the south side of steep hills, to shield themselves from cold wind and snow. Cedar thickets or pine plantations are classic deer shelters. Around prime feeding areas, so long as the food lasts, deer will yard-up, standing rump-to-shoulder in a maze of bodies, protecting one another to some degree. Find such congregations of does and eventually the bucks will show up, too.

Response from Deer Mapping request

I hope it’s not too late and I don’t know why I haven’t done it sooner ( guess I’ve just thrown up my hands about the subject getting fixed in my lifetime)
But there are Always deer in my yard….. Usually three or four….. But last evening at around 7pm there were at least TEN …..!, There were three large ones resting in my garden beds this morning at 7 am…..

I live in Ann Arbor Hills. And they have pretty much chomped down a lot of the evergreens , all things green in the area around my house …… neighbor saw around 12 on Dorset one morning around 4 am…… Maybe your mapping will help get something done…….hope so!

Deer Sightings in NE Ann Arbor Neighborhood

In the last week we have seen:

1- Every morning my husband puts out our bird feeders and takes them in every night. Last weekend we left early for a dinner before the UM Dance Program and didn’t bring in the feeders. When we got home that night, there were two does at the feeders, which hang from a pole about 10 feet from our house.

2- On Sunday, we saw a herd of 7 does run through our yard. Very interesting– they were “drafting”, almost single file, but head to flank, so only overlapping a little bit. Not sure what sent them racing through the yard– usually they stay around a bit or meander through. About a half hour later, we saw a dog run through our back yard. Perhaps he is was startled the deer?

3- this morning– three youngish bucks did meander through our yard and the one just behind us. (Note: thought we weren’t supposed to see antlers at this season?) I took a video– not a great one. Have to convert it and then will load.