In Block Printing/Design

Drawings & Documentaries: Deer

Are you sick of me talking about tendinitis yet? Well I sure am. No good news on that front at this point, but I’ve been trying to put my idle time to good use. Some of my favorite things (that I don’t talk about much around here for no particular reason) are drawing and watching documentaries, especially documentaries about animals. I’m sure (I hope!) there are some fellow nerds out there who will appreciate a post series like this, so in the spirit of trying new things and not losing my my mind on account of stupid wrist injuries, I present to you: Drawings & Documentaries – a series where I share facts, photos, and sketches inspired by animals.


This documentary, The Private Life of Deer, (currently streaming on Netflix) was particularly fascinating to me because I live in an area with a high white-tail deer population, but I never really went out of my way to learn anything about them. Up until recently the extent of my deer knowledge included: they’re cute, they eat my neighbor’s bushes into phallic shapes (highly amusing to me, not so much to my neighbor), and they must not be very intelligent on account of their habits in and around major roads. Well Friends, allow me to enlighten you on my newly expanded knowledge of white-tail deer! …oh, and share a peek at a sketch that will eventually become a new Spoonflower fabric.


1.) White-tail deer are nearly blind by human standards, all they really see are shapes and silhouettes. Because of their poor eyesight, deer have finely tuned hearing and a nose with more olfactory receptors than a Bloodhound (deer have 300 million olfactory receptors, humans only have 5 million!).

2.) Deer communicate with each other by using ear and tail movements (much like dogs do) and by stomping the ground to alert other deer when they sense danger. They also have various vocal call sounds.

3.) Deer populations actually thrive in areas of deforestation and urban sprawl. With an abundance of food, and no real predators besides motor vehicles, the deer population in North America has risen from less than one million a century ago, to over 100 million today. They prefer suburban neighborhoods that border farmland and forest.

4.) Deer eat 600 different species of plants including a variety of grasses, fruits, acorns, twigs, and even poison ivy. They eat around 7lbs of food a day and have a four-chambered stomach just like cows. Deer lie down after a meal in order to regurgitate and re-chew their food, also like cows do.

5.) Deer can easily jump a fence that’s 6 or 8 feet tall, making it difficult for people to protect gardens and yards.


6.) Cayuga Heights, NY has an estimated 100 deer per square mile. The “ideal” (according to wildlife biologists in the area) would be more like 5 deer per square mile.

7.) Deer have better night vision than humans do because they have more rods than cones in the eye which allows more light to filter through. The downside of this is the “deer in the headlights” affect where deer can literally freeze up in the middle of the road due to sensory overload on the eyes. Their brain can actually lock down for several minutes in this situation, causing a type of paralysis.

8.) Aside from the “deer in the headlights” issue, deer are actually highly intelligent and adapt very quickly to potential threats around them. They can learn the boundaries and traffic patterns of roads and cars, as well as the limits of neighborhood dogs in particular yards.

9.) Deer graze close to highways and roads, not because they like to live dangerously (or stupidly) like I originally thought, but simply because the un-manicured roadsides have more vegetation, with a better variety, than your yard might.

10.) Antlers are re-grown from scratch every year. Easily the fastest growing tissue on the entire planet, antler growth expands by one whole inch every two days.


11.) Deer mating season happens in the Fall and is known as “The Rut”.

12.) Female deer can give birth to a single fawn, twins, or triplets.

13.) Baby deer are born with almost no scent whatsoever, making them able to hide in tall grass (almost in plain sight) and still be invisible to predators. Adult deer have at least seven scent glands.

14.) Albino deer, also known as ghost deer, are extremely rare.

15.) The Florida Keys are home to an evolutionary miniature of white-tail deer, also known as Key Deer. The Key Deer are a highly endangered species with an estimated 800 left in existence (That makes me sad).


Well if you’re a nature buff like me, I hope you thoroughly enjoyed this post and learned something new about deer! If not, I hope you still enjoyed the pretty pictures of my sketchbook and various vintage items I’ve collected. Slowly but surely I’m digitizing my sketch in order to make a new print for my Spoonflower shop. I’ll share more progress there as it develops 😉

What do you think, did you learn something new? Do you love animal documentaries as much as I do? Can you recommend any new ones for me?!


p.s. Have a safe and happy Halloween!

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  • Always love learning things and yet school and I were not friends. Now I seem to take anything and everything in so I highly enjoyed reading this and seeing your new fabric.

  • Love the fabric!! So this is random, but after growing up and learning to drive in upstate NY, the trick with white tailed deer when they’re caught in headlights is to honk (just a little). Since they’re prone to reacting to noises, the beep snaps ’em out of it and they’ll run off the road. I am definitely going to watch that documentary though!

  • Huh… you learn something new every day. Thanks for sharing!

  • Oh my gosh, I just learned so much! I live in a city right next to a big park, so we get deer around our neighbourhood and yard all the time. I never really took the time to learn about them either, so I found this post really interesting. They come into our backyard a lot to rest. It’s kind of funny to walk by the window and see a deer napping. That sketch is going to look awesome as fabric!!

  • Victoria

    That was interesting, thanks for sharing. There are deer all over the place where I live, you can always spot the tourist because they pull over to look at them.

  • Beth

    Actually, I enjoyed that post quite a bit. You’re a very good writer 🙂

  • Lynne

    Interesting facts. I just developed tendonitis in my right thumb…gah! I have to wear a specially molded hand brace at night and do physical therapy. It does seem to be getting better. Having it in both wrists must be really @$/#!&*/. I feel for you. Healing thoughts sent your way.

  • Maria

    I too enjoy documentaries. One that you might like is Winged Migration. It’s different because you are just watching behavior of birds (to music I think). As I recall there isn’t much discussion about them, but the scenes are just beautiful and emotional at times..

  • I like the look of the print you are working on, interesting to read about your inspiration.

  • Thank you for sharing!!! Have you read anything about the Muntjac deer in England? They are not native unfortunately, but they are ridiculously cute. I bet Lucille is bigger than them! We used to see them outside of our front door in the mornings in Oxford.

    Also: It is a less happy documentary, but have you seen Blackfish? Intensely interesting. Although it focused mostly on Seaworld, I learned SO much about Orcas.

    On a final note: PLLLLEEEEAAASSSEEE make that deer print with a navy background. I love it!!!

  • What kind of documentaries do you like? The sketch looks great!

  • misscrayolacreepy

    Ok, the fact that antlers regrow from scratch every year is CRAZY!!!!! I had no idea!

  • I did some doodling last night too, of woodland creatures, to take a break from knitting. I used to draw every day and I kind of miss it, I might start up again next year. Sewing is great, but I need something with more imagination.
    Thanks for the deer facts! I didn’t know most of these, but I’ve always grown up around deer.

  • Love it! Didn’t know their eyesight was so poor. Horses use their ears and tail to communicate too; it’s pretty cool to watch their ears rotating around and be able to tell what they are focusing on.
    Watched the honey badger documentary–it was interesting!
    Hope them wrists feel better soon!

  • zilredloh

    How interesting, such new information about deer I never knew. Thanks. 🙂

    About your tendinitis… Is it feasible for you to get a cortisone shot? I recently developed it in my right hand, pinkie joint from all of the wood refinishing I’ve done on my house. Otherwise known as using a scraper tool for 3+ hrs a day incorrectly for like 5+ months. Such pain!

    But so far the pain hasn’t returned after the cortisone… It’s given me a break from pain so that I can retrain myself on the proper method for doing things.

    Just a thought…