Not too many people realize this... but wild deer aren't the kind, friendly animals Disney portrays. Deer are wild animals, of course, and many deaths have been reported from people becoming too friendly with deer. In places like Yosemite, people feed deer and deer become accustomed to humans. Many people believe that these deer are lovable forest animals who want to frolic with them... so they will feed the deer, pet them, etc. But all too often, a little kid will get scared and after holding up food to a deer, run away. The deer may become agitated and bite at the food, or even gore the person feeding it. This can happen with anyone approaching a deer, especially bucks, which are territorial, or a mother with a fawn. The antlers are obviously fatal, but deer also have extremely strong hooves and can kick like mad (something that can jump over 6 foot walls with ease wouldn't have any problem disemboweling someone). Anyway, according to some sources, deer kill more people than bears do. So, keep this in mind.. they are beautiful animals to observe in their natural habitat but you shouldn't approach them... Even if you disregard personal safety, feeding deer and other wildlife is a bad idea. They may become sick from human food. They may become dependent on humans and starve to death when humans aren't around. And if accustomed to humans they will frequent roads where they may be struck by cars, or even lose their fear of humans completely and bound 'lovingly' right up to hunters.

The abundance of well meaning, stupid people aren't limited by the friendliness of deer, either. In Yellowstone I've seen people attempting to feed elk, moose, and even a young grizzly. When the animal gets scared and bites someone, the rangers will probably have to shoot it. So please... don't feed or touch the animals. You'd be better off just shooting them, at least that way you can eat them, they won't kill someone else and die later, choking on plastic or shot by a ranger.

Deer (?), n. sing. & pl. [OE. der, door, animal, wild animal, AS. deor; akin to D. dier, OFries. diar, G. thier, tier, Icel. dr, Dan. dyr, Sw. djur, Goth. dius; of unknown origin. .]


Any animal; especially, a wild animal.



Mice and rats, and such small deer. Shak.

The camel, that great deer. Lindisfarne MS.

2. Zool.

A ruminant of the genus Cervus, of many species, and of related genera of the family Cervidae. The males, and in some species the females, have solid antlers, often much branched, which are shed annually. Their flesh, for which they are hunted, is called venison.

⇒ The deer hunted in England is Cervus elaphus, called also stag or red deer; the fallow deer is C. dama; the common American deer is C. Virginianus; the blacktailed deer of Western North America is C. Columbianus; and the mule deer of the same region is C. macrotis. See Axis, Fallow deer, Mule deer, Reindeer.

Deer is much used adjectively, or as the first part of a compound; as, deerkiller, deerslayer, deerslaying, deer hunting, deer stealing, deerlike, etc.

Deer mouse Zool., the white-footed mouse (Hesperomys leucopus) of America. -- Small deer, petty game, not worth pursuing; -- used metaphorically. (See citation from Shakespeare under the first definition, above.) "Minor critics . . . can find leisure for the chase of such small deer."

G. P. Marsh.


© Webster 1913.

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