Just Passing Through

by Carl Strang

The first deer to visit Mayslake Forest Preserve since January 12 came through at night on April 28/29. I didn’t see them, but the soft mud from the seemingly incessant recent rains made the tracks easy to see, and not much time was needed to trace them, following them some times, cutting their trail at others.

buck-track-29ap-2b

I was interested in the number of individuals, and their gender. I have not yet learned the pressure release  that indicates gender, but with so many tracks I could use the quick and dirty method confidently. In does the hips are wider than the chest, and in bucks the chest is wider than the hips. Comparing the placement of front and hind feet in the diagonal walk gait  when the deer were walking straight, I found that there were two bucks.

This was disappointing; I am hoping that at least one doe will have her fawn at Mayslake this year, but so far no dice. The bucks apparently entered the preserve by crossing 31st Street, followed the stream south, spent a little time on the south mansion grounds, then backtracked a little, passed north of the stream corridor marsh and on into the savanna. They acquired the main trail at the northeast corner of May’s Lake, followed it south along the edge of the lake, and at the southeast corner turned off the trail and followed the lake’s edge on out of the preserve. After spending some time in the residential neighborhood they returned to the preserve, retraced their route along the lake and continued to follow its edge all the way to the mansion grounds. I picked them up at the prairie north of the mansion, and they exited the preserve at its east boundary, not far from 31st Street.

In short, they covered most of the preserve and then left. Bucks wander widely and erratically, and I expect to encounter signs of these two again, but not necessarily soon. They were just passing through.

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