Buck Feeds On Corn Under The Water
GON received a 15-second video of a Tattnall County buck behaving more like one living in the wetlands of the Everglades.
Jeffrey Autrey and his associates leased a new patch of hunting land along the Altamaha River in Tattnall County this year and put out some game cameras to electronically scout the area. Jeffrey found a good deer but one acting in a peculiar way.
Before setting up the cameras, Jeffrey, an electrician from Collins, spread a 5-gallon bucket of corn around a low spot on the lease. He set up the camera to overlook that spot not far from the river. Then, heavy rains hit the area, leaving the corn submerged under more than a foot of water. That didn’t stop the buck from feeding off the bottom of the puddle.
“With all the rain lately, that spot started to flood,” Jeffrey said. “At first, I got some photos of the buck. Then, I switched the camera to video. That’s when I caught that deer on video sticking his entire head under the water to feed off the bottom to get at that corn.”
No surprise, deer like to eat corn, but this one went an extra step, or should I say went a little deeper. He submerged his head up to his ears under the water to eat the corn off the bottom of the puddle. How did he know it was there?
“I’ve never seen a deer do anything like that before,” Jeffrey said. “I shared the video with some friends and some old men who have hunted deer for a long time and none of them had ever seen a deer do that before. Most of them have been hunting around that area for decades.”
In clear water, aircraft can easily spot submerged yellow corn from the air. That’s one way that conservation enforcement officers catch people who bait for waterfowl. However, the camera recorded the deer on a pitch-black night, making visibility extremely difficult. In addition, the water looked far from clear.
“I scattered that bucket of corn all through that area,” Jeffrey said. “I didn’t just pile it up in one spot. The water can move that corn around, too. In daylight, I couldn’t see the corn under the water. I even reached down and grabbed some corn off the bottom to make sure that it was still there. There’s no way that buck saw that corn under the water. He had to smell it.”
GON sent the 15-second video to Charlie Killmaster, the head state deer biologist for the Georgia Wildlife Resources Division in Social Circle, for him to review. He gave his opinion.
“No way to know what the deer is eating under the water, but given the trail camera, I would assume it was a baited camera location that was subsequently flooded,” Charlie said. “Deer have a good enough sense of smell to detect food that’s been flooded, and they will eat a variety of aquatic vegetation. While this probably isn’t common behavior for us to observe, except for areas with a ton of wetlands like the Everglades, I have seen videos of deer ‘submarine eating’ in the past.”
From the video, the buck looks like an 8-point, possibly a 9-point. Either way, he looks like a fine, healthy specimen of a Georgia whitetail.
“The next day, I measured where the deer was standing, and it’s about 16 inches deep,” Jeffrey said. “It’s crazy that the buck could find it like that underwater. I’ve seen hogs do that, but I’ve never seen a deer do that before. It’s a pretty good deer. He might have a little sticker coming up to make him a 9-point, but I can’t tell if it’s a scoreable point or not.”
Jeffrey will return to that spot hoping to see that wily buck during shooting hours later this fall.
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