How Much Do Animals Understand? (Deer Edition)

Written by Devtome contributor Bomac


This Huffington Post blurb got me thinking about how much deer understand.1) A bow hunter wounded the deer and tried tracking it to finish it off. The hunter was looking to see where it went, when all of a sudden, the four legged sneaky bastard blindsided him and took him to the ground.

The deer decked him really hard, butting its head against the 72 year old hunter's leg. It was enough to not only end the day's hunting, but send the senior citizen hunter to the hospital… but, fortunately, not the hospice. The deer, presumably lived.2)

Anyway, I wonder if that deer made a calculated decision, that his best chance for survival was fight, not flight. Or was it so pissed off, all it could think of was opening up a can a whup ass on the hunter, even if it increased its risk of “ buying the farm”?

Another One From HuffPost

Here's another blurb from the Huffington Post, similar to the first one, but instead of a bow, the hunter was using a rifle. He shot a buck twice. It was down. The hunter went over to check to make sure it was dead and it suddenly rose up and gave him, “15 seconds of hell.”3)

The buck tried to get away after roughing up the hunter, but the hunter got 2 more shots in it, taking him down for the final count. The hunter had to have his scalp stapled and was treated for a light concussion and bruises.

That deer must have instinctually realized his chance for survival was to take the offensive before trying to run for it. It may have been for the best that the hunter got in the last two shots, because the deer would probably have needlessly suffered a lot longer, before succumbing to the first two hits.

Don't Let The Sweet Face Fool You


If you were going mano a mano (or shall we say, mano a deero?) with an adult deer, with neither of you allowed any weaponry, there is no guarantee you would be get out of the ordeal without a trip to the hospital, (and possibly the morgue). In fact, even if the deer spotted you a big hunting knife, you still might lose. I've seen enough deer videos to make me suspicious that the deer species may have their own version of the Gracie family, teaching mixed martial arts to the entire clan.

They are adept at both the ground and pound game, as well as stand up striking. I, for one, would not like to get a deer pissed off at me and then happen to run into it down a darkened alley one night. If you think I'm kidding, here is a story about a deer killing a man. The deer and the man had a relationship, but it turned ugly that fateful afternoon, sharing a beer, when the man made a remark, in jest, about the deer's sister that the red stag did not find humorous.

(OK, that part is a joke.) However the truth is the senior citizen brought it upon himself by raising wild animals, after many warnings from game wardens that it's illegal and dangerous.4) This was not a deer that was rescued as a baby and was domesticated and grew into adulthood. It was a wild adult deer that shouldn't have been held in captivity for the man's personal enjoyment. I don't mean to say that I'm not sorry his life ended early, or painfully, but I am saying the guy had no one to blame, but himself. He not only brought about his own death, but the deer was shot, they say, in an effort to get into the penned in area and recover the man's body. 5)

So What Did The Deadly Deer Understand?

Experts say that it was rutting (mating) season, and the stag perceived the man as competition, and did what came natural. He surely understood the man wasn't another deer, but he figured it was close enough to be a threat.

If it had been a lesser deer it was attacking, there would likely have been no fight to the death, and the other deer would likely withstand the attack enough to be able to retreat, which is what the victor is usually looking for in those kind of deer fights .

Wife Films Husband Getting Beat Up By Deer

Here is a 48 second video on YouTube that doesn't have a tragic ending, thankfully. It is titled, “Deer beats the S**T out of a hunter!!! Haha - Deer 1 / Hunter 0.”6)

This very well could have ended tragically, but fortunately the deer let him get away, not without harm, but without serious harm. Nevertheless, it must have been a rather harrowing experience for the man, and even his videographer wife. I'm sure some people would say the wife should have put the camera down and gone to help him, but I might imagine the husband would not have wanted to live if, in so doing, the wife would have been killed.

The story behind what was probably going on in this deer's mind is that he was none too pleased to discover that the man had doused himself with female deer scent. In another video that I lost track of, from which this clip was taken, the man explained that he had done that, to help him attract deer for hunting. He also, stupidly, was engaging the deer for the benefit of the video.

Funny Deer Attack Videos

There are a number of rather humorous deer attack videos on YouTube.

For instance, Deer Beats Up Fat Guy.

In this 52 second clip with more than 2 million views, a fairly young deer manages to bring a heavy guy to the guy who outweighs the deer considerably. At first you think the deer isn't that big, but when he stands up on his hind legs, you get another perspective.

It seems like the deer is not really out for blood and everyone is getting a kick out it, including the dude being attacked. As far as why the deer is attacking, one can only speculate that it expects humans to show more respect for nature than to show up in its habitat dressed that way.7)

This video has more than 1.5 million views. The title tells us exactly what is on the deer's mind: Deer Tries to Mate with Girl. (And, judging by the looks of her, I have to say, I'd have the same thing on my mind.)

The guy doing the video thinks the whole thing is a lot funnier than it is. Really, it might be good for a giggle in the beginning, but the deer is such a typical dude, relentlessly going after his desire, not taking no for any answer, one can't help but wish the cameraman would get more serious and run some inference for his attractive female friend.8)

In, Boxing Deer Takes Down Cowboy, a video not nearly as popular as the previous ones, it very much appears to be a gym where deer go to spar.

The cowboy in the title, jumps into the ring to challenge one of the sparring deer. He doesn't last but a few seconds. The deer's punches are much faster, and its legwork seemed better as well.

The deer may be a natural, or it may be a matter of having a great trainer. When the cowboy turns his back to jump out of the ring, the deer continues to fire rapid punch to his back until cowboy is out of range. Cowboy's buddies are absolutely loving it.

As far as what that deer understood, it's obvious when you watch it. A human thought he was going to go into his boxing ring and show him how to spar at his own gym, in front of his deer buddies. It was having none of that. The deer was up for the challenge and shut him down in very short order. I suspect that shortly after the clip ends, the deer looked over to the other guys and said, “Any of you other humans want a piece of this? Yeah, I didn't think so!”

Domesticated Pet Deer Videos

I don't know about you, but I love it when people rescue wild animals and are able to have them as pets, friends and family members. I could watch those not-wild-wild, animal videos for hours at a time.

This 2 minute video is from ABC network news, telling about a Michigan family's legal battle to keep their 5 year old, house trained dear that they raised from birth.

Lilly's mom was hit by a car in front of their home. As the mother laid dying, she gave birth to the little calf. The family asked the cop who answered their call if they could try to save her life. The officer said she wouldn't last 15 minutes but they were welcome to try.

Fast forward to five years later, when one of their neighbor's had a guest over, who didn't like the idea of a deer in that neighborhood. (Yes, that neighborhood she didn't even live in.) So the witch called the authorities, who said they are violating the laws and that Lilly has to go, momentarily.9)

The possibility that Lilly will be executed is very real in this video. Perhaps you heard about Michigan's Department of Natural Resources (MDNR, the same bureaucracy insisting that Lilly must go) forcing farmers to massacre little baby pigs, because they said a certain breed was wild and against the law, despite the fact they had been domesticated for generations.10)

However, in this video, we find out that all ended well. Lilly got to stay.11) In another video that is no longer showing up in YouTube searches, at this moment, we learn some of the details of the agreement reached with MDNR. They include the licensing cost of about $500 a year, a bigger fence and some classes,

The no longer heartbroken family is more than happy to comply, and at least $2500 was donated to them, after somebody started a crowdfunding campaign for them. I'm hopeful they will have some money for a blue bandana for Lilly, because now that MDNR has shown the ability to try a little tenderness, the family now can focus on how young deer, they do get weary, wearing that same old shaggy bandana.12)

More Than One Lilly

Lilly has been confused with other online deer with the same name.

This video features another deer called Lilly. This Lilly, pictured above, stays outdoors.13)

There is yet another Lilly deer in this video. She is interacting with her surrogate mother, a dog whose breed was, great pyrenees. Her name was Molly. (No, not the molly that Miley Cyrus craves.) Molly is also seen in the video with a watusi cow calf that she also had surrogated.14)

Turns out Molly, now in spirit, surrogate-mothered; cattle, deer, monkeys, bears, goats, cougars and even a miniature horse. Wow. How special is that? Here's what a website has to say about the great pyrenees breed. “The Great Pyrenees dog breed's goal in life is to protect sheep, goats, livestock, people, children, grass, flowers, the moon, the lawn furniture, bird feeders, and any real or imaginary predators that may intrude on your personal space. Oh yeah, and to give, give, and give unconditional love.”

So what does that Lilly understand? Well, she now understands that mommy Molly isn't coming around any more. This has led to her bonding with Molly's son, Puppy. In this video we see Lilly trying to prevent Puppy from leaving her penned in area, not out of meanness, but fondness, because she wants him to stay and be with her.15)

Here is another dear deer that some people think is Lilly from Michigan, but in fact is Bambi. Lilly is the 5 year old girl who is seen in the video pulling the deer's tail. (Don't worry folks. The deer is having fun, too.) At one point, Lilly falls down and Bambi goes into full gentle mode, making sure she is OK.16)

What does Bambi understand? Well, for one thing, she seems to understand she's playing with children, and the need to be safe with them.

What Thelma & Louise Don't Understand

Outdoor pet deer, Thelma & Louise, aren't supposed to come in the house. They probably understand that, but they understand it isn't fair so they protest by sneaking into the house using the doggie door.17)


Keep your proverbial eye out for more Devtome posts in this continuing animal series. The name will change from, How Much Do Animals Understand?, to, Animals Do The Darndest Things.

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Or at least, that's what I choose to presume. As a person who still eats meat, albeit less frequently than ever, I have no right to play the righteous indignation card on hunters. At least they are honest enough to not shield themselves in any way from the fact that they are responsible for the deaths of animals (like the rest of us carnivores who pay others to do our dirty work.) Yet, I still can't help but wonder how they enjoy the “sport” of killing. I do understand that my willingness to eat meat takes away any moral argument I could ever have against hunters, though. At least I have moved in the right direction, in a substantial way. It won't be long before I completely drop the flesh habit. My motivation isn't so I can give others a hard time without being the hypocrite I am today. I need to do it so I can feel good about myself. When I hear, “Synchronicity,” by The Police, “If you act as you think, the missing link, synchronicity”… I always think of me being a consumer of animal products. I am so looking forward to the time when I act as I think when it comes to being kind to animals.
I am virtually sure they could have tranquilized the deer and relocated it back into the wild, so I'm not buying that it had to be killed for that reason. I know dogs are killed when they kill a person, as a matter of law. I'm guessing that in this case, while there wasn't a law stating the wild deer had to be shot and could not be placed back into the wild, somebody made the decision to kill it because it had killed the man. If that is the case, then they simply made up a story saying there was no other option.
Speaking of trying a little tenderness, I'm sure Otis Redding would really love 15 year old, James Smith's rendition on the 2014 finals of Britain's Got Talent…The stuff of goose bumps…as, of course, was Otis.

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