LittleMan and I were walking to the zoo for his science lessons when we noticed some things that gave us pause and we ended up studying something rather unexpected instead.
It started when LittleMan spotted some scratches in the trees. He was unsure what they were but I knew these were surefire signs that a male deer had been here so I encouraged him to follow the scratched trees through the park, and to pay attention to the ground to see if there was perhaps other clues as to what could have caused this.
Soon enough he also spotted some tracks on the ground.
And true to the potty-humor of our family, he giggled when he spied a pile of BM.
After we’d gathered all the evidence, I listened to him guess what could have caused this. He figured out that it was hoofed animal from the tracks, and he figured that a deer was the most likely culprit. But he was still unsure what the scratches in the trees meant.
It was at this point that I explained to him that male deer rub their antlers against trees to shed the velvet covering and that this often leaves scratches on the trees.
We also discussed how it was possible to gauge the age of the deer by the size of their tracks. We were able to find two separate sets of deer tracks, the first of a 1-2 year old, and the other of a full grown adult deer.
LittleMan had a lot of questions. I did my best to answer the ones I knew, and look up the answers with him when I wasn’t sure.
We did eventually make it to the zoo that day but our conversation about deer behavior continued on throughout the day and for several days following.