The Private Life of Deer
Full Episode

Watch the full film The Private Life of Deer online:

Whitetailed deer seem to be always around us, whether they’re grazing alongside our roadways, feasting on plants in our backyards or darting into the woods, though these “neighbors” do like to protect their privacy. While other species may be negatively impacted by human development, it is just the opposite for the whitetails. “We as humans have created pretty much the perfect habitat for deer,” explains Dr. Jay Boulanger, who coordinates Cornell University’s Deer Research and Management Program. “These are areas that have a wide diversity of plants that deer can eat, versus, say, a rural forest.”

Just a century ago, there were less than a million deer in North America. Today, there are nearly 30 million. The Private Life of Deer looks at how these wild deer interact with one another, and how they adapt to living in a suburban environment. This film premiered May 8, 2013. Restricted to U.S. & Territories.

  • Spencer

    I wonder why this show never mentions hunting as a way to control the massive deer population in this town?

  • Dona

    Even though I did enjoy this program, I was concerned about the group tagging fawns. My question is: what happens when the fawns grow and they have those small tracking collars on them? Do they break away? What is the purpose when they are ear tagged? Please forward onto Producer Kevin Bachar for answers.



  • Wayne

    Identifying whitetailed deer through tagging and monitoring their movements via tracking collars in Wisconsin is important for any number of research questions about the breed and the population. See

  • gg

    Loved this program. I especially loved the part where the family took in Blossom. Each was a Godsend for the other. Thank you PBS for such wonderful programming. How about our other wildlife in our back yards? Like the Geese who seem to have taken over Pa and Jerseys suburbs. I think they have a story to tell. Well let’s hear it.

  • Holly Pharmer

    What happened to Blossom??

  • Kim

    So sorry the program didn’t dwell more on the hazards and economic loss deer present to humans. Hundreds of people are killed each year when the vehicle they are traveling in collides with a deer. Deer are the major carriers of the ticks which harbor Lyme disease. In our area, we have extremely high car insurance rates because of the high number of deer/vehicle collisions. They cause hundreds of dollars to me each year just in replacing landscaping which has been destroyed by them. They cost us in fencing and repellents to try to keep them off our property. And oh, by the way, I live in the downtown urban area of our city NOT in the suburbs!

  • james talbot

    THose collar expand as they grow, and donot constrict breathing of any activity. The collars will break away if needed, but it’s a way to determine where the animal goes, and if it dies. Same type of collars put of Bears and other wildlife. The thing that concerns me the most is the fact they ended the show with a lady who obviously thought a Fawn was dying and abandoned, but by all information known in the world of deer species, was actually just a hiding fawn….was stolen from the doe and treated like a pet. That’s an issue. Raising a wild animal as a family pet will only lead to increased deaths by un-natural means, such as traffic and being in the wrong place at the wrong time in a small town. This animal will approach hunters as friends and then be slabbed out on a grill somewhere later. Don’t get me worng, the hunting of Deer is needed, and helps population control, but to befreind and raise a deer from a fawn and let loose into the wild later in life is cruel and shouldn’t have been promoted in the ay that it was. And Spencer- Acutally I know for a fact, as a hunter, in Wisconsin, the rule was if you shot a deer that was collared or tag, it was perfectly alright, they just wanted you to report it to the DNR so they could out a final stamp on the animal’s mortality…and I did and it took less that 2 minutes at a local weight in station.. Tracking these deer and hunting them is the only way to keep dieases likeChronic Wasting Diease from spreading I am perfectly ok with. I had the same concerns about the collars until I spoke with a Wildlife Biologist and learned it did in fact expand and there was no discomfort or constraint. Which is great, I want deer to live a natural full life and thrive so hunters wild life lovers alike can enjoy the beauty that is the white tail deer.

  • David

    As an outdoor enthusiast, I found this documentary rather flat. The film followed a herd of purely domesticated deer, which behave nothing like deer in the wild. The sparring scene was particularly lame. I still enjoyed watching, but anyone who’s grown up in a rural area probably won’t learn anything new. I will say this though, the gene pool in this New York town breeds small-bodied deer, but these bucks sport some tremendous racks for their size!

  • M Gonzales

    Great episode, me and my wife really enjoyed it. Just watching the deer from your house must be a great experience however 30 million deer’s too much deer. I know some people don’t want to hear it but this episode just proves peoples point that deer population via hunting is needed.

  • Sharon

    Not sure if anyone is interested to know that our area in central Pennsylvania currently has a pair of albino twin deer, a male and a female. These deer are over a year old and still traveling together as a pair.

  • Dar

    What ever happened to the rescued fawn, Blossom? Was she able to fully assimilate back into her natural life? Reproduce? Have a typical lifespan?

  • Anna Carner Blangiforti

    It is heartwarming to hear of the interest in our sweet deer, Blossom.

    She was never confined in any way and, even as a baby was “family” with dogs, cats, deer, and of course people. Interestingly, she loved and cared for us as well as for her own deer herd. And, yes, she brought her babies and family to our front door! She even “adopted” and raised another fawn in trouble (Baby Boomer) who was not in any way related to her. Her personality and love of play made it oh so easy for everyone to love her.

    She watched our home from her den in the woods and always showed up to greet visitors. Blossom even made an appearance at our neighbor’s outdoor wedding, walked children to the school bus stop, and accompanied one of our neighbors on her daily jog!

    She was the only “wild” animal ever nominated for Pet of the Year by the NJ Veterinary Association.

    Blossom was 10 years old when she died peacefully in her sleep. It still hurts. The entire neighborhood grieved.
    She is gone now but has left a legacy of being a sweet, gentle, and highly intelligent “wild” animal who became an Ambassador of love while creating a paradigm shift in the awareness of deer interaction in our world.

    You can take a look at the YouTube video I made, “Pet Deer Blossom”, for more. That’s how Pangolin Pictures came to research her segment of “Private Life of Deer” for PBS.

  • Anna Carner Blangiforti

    In answer to one of the comments suggesting that Blossom was not in need of help to survive is not true. This baby could not even raise her head, was dangerously dehydrated with a very weak pulse. Her labored gasping to breath was a clear sign of impending disaster. I was trained as a Paramedic years ago and know when someone needs help. IV fluids, oxygen, water, honey and warmth allowed her to live.

    I also know that fawns are left by themselves for many hours. That’s natural. Hopefully, most people know to leave them alone until their mothers return.

  • Joe

    The show said deer are nearly ‘blind’ by human standards – and yet they can run and leap through woods and correctly gauge the height of tall wire fences presumably while on the run? I wish the show would have explained how it is they are able to see so well if they are ‘nearly blind’.

  • Hannah

    what’s the song at 41:14???

  • Matt

    This show was a huge disappointment. I mean a real piece of crap. It seems like a high school film project.

  • Margaret

    Thank you Anna for sharing your story:-)

  • Bill

    To Spencer in reference to why “those people” who didn’t mention the use of hunting to control deer populations in “that town”. I think I speak for the majority of human beings… Maybe not everyone is a blood thirsty killer of beauty.. I know I couldn’t do it. But the people who actually rely on the deer for sustenance, using all the parts, not wasting anything, and don’t just kill for a rack on their wall or a head mounted at some bar. Ask the Native Americans. And look towards the slaughter of the buffalo and the stupid massacre of MILLIONS of them drove the population to near extinction levels. Have a heart…better yet a brain to see what might happen.

  • Gloria

    I second Joe’s question: how do they so accurately sense obstacles if they see poorly?

  • Sasha

    The story of Blossom was the MOST adorable and heartfelt story I’ve ever seen on nature. It was the most inspiring story ever. It is nice to know that there are people out there who care for animals. God bless you, Anna .You witnessed something most people don’t and probably never will. It was indeed a very beautiful love story ever, if you will. :D

  • Geoff

    To Kim who is sorry that the program did not dwell more on the economic losses occasioned by large numbers of deer and the “hundreds” of humans who are killed each year in auto accidents caused by deer: so I guess you must be mightily upset by the state game departments that manipulate habitat and “control” natural predators in order to artificially increase the number of deer available for “recreational shooting opportunities” for the 5% of the population who are hunters AND by the fact that the number of deer-car collisions actually INCREASES during the hunting season. Right?

  • Ed

    If you want to stop the deer from eating your plants, shrubs , and flowers, spray everything with “Liquid Fence” deer and rabbit repellent. This stuff really works.

  • Jasmine

    on my bucket list is to see an Albino Deer, they are so beautiful

  • Kay

    I know it’s expensive, and I wonder if the group tagging fawns has thought of getting infrared goggles to find them?

    Also, I wonder why the scientist used cut out silhouettes of coyotes to study how deer evaluate new potential threats.. Since deer rely more on smell and hearing than on eyesight to evaluate their environment, I think his results (that the deer weren’t very afraid) is not very interesting. I think a better experimental design might have been to use stuffed predators doused in coyote smell and playing a recording of coyote footsteps or howls or etc.

  • Maverick

    I found it interesting to compare the behavior of the suburban whitetail deer with that of the suburban mule deer here out west. I could have done without much of the bizarre commentary by the narrator and participants: “nearly blind”, “deer in the headlights”, “brain locks down”, “range of one square mile”. They also made it sound like the deer owe their existence to man, for tearing out the forests to put in farms and suburbs, to create an “ideal” habitat on the fringes; never mentioning that “meadows” and adjoining forests are the ideal natural habitat. Maybe their numbers have grown from 1 million to 30 million over the past century (any facts to back this claim up or pure speculation?), but how many were there in the century before that; before Americans wiped them out along with their natural habitat, during the westward expansion?

  • Maggie

    I’ve wondered whether there isn’t a “birth control dart” that deer could be tagged with each year in lieu of hunting in these suburban areas. They are beautiful animals which unfortunately have been turned into out of control “vermin” because of the way humans have changed the environment. Hunting (which I am not opposed to because it is a natural resource and long time source of food for humans) doesn’t really lead to controlling the population — as we have demonstrated so well here in Wisconsin. Usually, hunters want more deer, hate natural predators (like wolves), prefer to kill the biggest and strongest (not weakest or sick) and complain loudly if the population gets low (even if “low” is still much higher than historic numbers when predators were still around). I am a hunter and will gladly spend a week or more watching and waiting for the chance to see one animal, but few people have that kind of patience and even avid hunters have to admit it gets very tiring compared to going to the grocery store. Hunting just will not ever be a primary means for controlling the deer population.

Produced by THIRTEEN    ©2014 THIRTEEN Productions LLC. All rights reserved.

PBS is a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit organization.