A Special Deer Herd

On The Shoulders Of Giants With Andrew Curtis

Andrew Curtis | September 2, 2023

This 4-pointer figured out this blue Jeep came stocked with cracked corn, and he wasn’t shy about getting his belly full.

Some tracts of land are just different. I am really referring to the wildlife that inhabits the land. Most people reading this story can understand what I mean. I have been to some properties in the state where deer will absolutely not eat out of a trough feeder (like at my home in Berrien County), preferring corn to be on the ground. For that matter, some deer won’t even eat at a pile of corn on the ground, preferring it to be scattered in a more natural scenario (like on our family farm in Lanier County). Some deer are just plain finicky.

But then you see a deer herd that makes you shake your head in wonder at the lack of fear toward humans, deer like we have around Lake Oconee in Morgan County.

In retrospect, I reckon it’s been this way my entire life. However, our close encounters with deer came when I was in my early 20s. My brother was living at my grandparents’ lake house and began going out to the back acreage in my grandfather’s old blue CJ-5 Jeep equipped with a bucket of corn. Every afternoon after work, he would do this activity, and it was not long before he noticed that if he doubled back around to the two or three spots where he would scatter corn, deer would already be eating there, a mere 10 to 15 minutes after the corn had been dispensed. Then, a little 4-point buck did the almost unimaginable.

I got a phone call from my brother in late July. He excitedly reported to me that he was standing very close to a little buck that was eating the corn. Wait… what? That deer was simply not afraid of my brother, even when he stepped out of the Jeep. The buck’s bravery must have been contagious because it was not long before several young does started to venture closer and closer until they too were eating the corn all around the Jeep.

I couldn’t wait to see the deer myself. It was still summertime when I got to lay eyes on the little velveted buck. He came right up to me, keeping just enough distance to stay out of touching range. I thought for sure that his habits and comfort around humans would change once deer season arrived. But October came, then November, then December. All through deer season, that buck came to the Jeep feedings. Most of the time, a group of does accompanied him, but he was usually the first and always the least afraid.

In the spring after he had shed his antlers, we watched as his antlers grew, and grew, and grew. Before our eyes, this little buck was transforming into a beautiful, symmetrical 8-point. His comfort around us while eating corn around the Jeep did not change. He would come up to us, and we would admire that rack of his. Again, he hung around all through deer season, his neck swelling to twice its size. Never did he become aggressive to us, only to the young 6-point that was showing interest in our “food wagon.”

The pretty 8-point survived the season and continued to eat at the Jeep until he shed his antlers. We waited through spring to see the return of the 8-point, but he never showed up. Instead, several young bucks and a dozen does were coming to us. I smiled when I realized what had happened; he had taught a whole herd to come to that old blue Jeep. We did, however, start getting pictures on our trail camera of a very nice 8-point with the same curved, right brow tine as our young 8-point from the previous season. That bigger trail-camera buck never came to our Jeep though. Was it the same buck? I will never know for sure, but I have my suspicions.

My brother eventually moved out of the lake house, but my family continued to go there often, and every time we went, we fed the deer. It was a much-anticipated activity. Each summer, a new generation of fawns was exposed to our “corn Jeep” and grew into deer for our viewing.

And now the feeding tradition is being passed onto my children and my brother’s children. To this day nearly 20 years later, the cycle continues, all thanks to the little 4-point whose corn obsession proved stronger than his fear of us. The legacy of that buck lives on in a very special deer herd.

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