Wednesday, February 5, 2014

The Tables are Turned

I went out this morning to let the chickens out into their run and feed the deer, as I do every morning.
It was 7:30 and the sun was well up.  It was daylight.
The deer often come in waves from their various sleeping locations, so it's not unusual to see a latecomer.
As I stood filling the watering tubs, something in my pasture caught my eye.
Another deer, I presumed.

Boy was I ever wrong.
It was coyote!
Something had obviously spooked him, because he was at a full gallop and didn't even cast us a sideways glance.
photo credit:
What happened next was the astonishing thing.
Instead of being afraid of a predator in their space, three deer headed in the direction of the coyote.
They ran several hundred yards toward where he'd gone, stopped for a few minutes and then returned to the herd.
There are no fawns to protect.  Their behavior didn't make any sense.
I couldn't really comprehend what I'd seen.

Even more strange, when I was looking for a photo of a coyote to put in this post (I didn't have my camera), I came across the picture you see above.
The woman who caught this, in a series of photos, had the exact thing happen! 
 Her deer are mule deer and much larger than my whitetails, but still.
What causes the predator/prey model to be turned on its head?
I'll be spending more time visiting with Google about it.
It fascinates me.


  1. This is almost unbelievable. I guess you'd have to see it to believe it. I followed the link you gave and then Googled deer chasing coyote. There are videos out there of it happening. I live in a normal subdivision in the St. Louis area and we see deer regularly. Today 5 of them ran out of the woods behind the house, across the yard and past the house to cross the street. I didn't see if they were chasing something or if something was chasing them. I found your blog by following you from Carson's 7MSN blog and am one of many who are in awe of you for being a ranch sitter when you didn't know her personally. I love your blog; I went back in time, reading past entries in order to get to know you better. I love your photos and the stories you share. I'm now one of your followers!

    1. Hi Peg, Welcome. :)
      It was so nice to finally meet Carson in person after being friends with her for 5 years. I do liken it to being pen pals from days past.

  2. Just when we think we understand Nature we find all kinds of exceptions to the "rules." I don't know if you've seen the "Chicken Police" Youtube video but it is another one of weird animal behavior.

    1. I had forgotten about that video. I saw it once before and was astounded at the interaction/behavior of the chickens. Nature is far more complex than we humans think we know.

  3. That is really unbelievable. Keep us posted on what you find out about this unusual behavior.

    1. I will. So far everything I've read is that coyotes are seldom a threat to grown deer. I've also seen several videos of deer chasing coyotes. Who knew??

  4. You know...I think we only know the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the why's of animal behavior! Those darned coyotes...we have a couple hanging around our farm (at least I have heard this...but have not personally seen them) Pennsylvania coyotes are smaller than yours...just a little bigger than a fox...but just as undesirable. Especially for those of us with chickens!!

    1. I would be a much happier chicken and cat owner if our coyotes were that small. Ours can weigh up to 50lbs and often make off with house pets and livestock.