The Private Life of Deer

The Private Life of Deer airs November 27 at 10/9c (check local listings).

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.

  • Ben Calvert

    Looking forward to this episode about deer. I am sure you will have a part about deer hunters. As you have said there are more than 30 million now. Thanks in a large part to what game management states are doing and the money the money hunters spend on license and other monies that hunters spend for hunting. I hope they will not be put in a bad light like they usually are in nature programs. Thank you, Ben Calvert

  • Mary Allen

    Hunters do more than 85% of the land/habitat conservation in N America now and we don’t mind if non-game species tag along on the ride. That would be good episode for “Nature”; “How Hunters Conserve the Land”. :) I’ve watched “Nature” a long time and don’t remember them being particularly harsh on hunters, poachers justly so, but not so much on bona-fide hunters. We’ll see Ben? The mass eradication of big predators like wolves and grizzly bears (no one protests much when something that eats humans is being nearly annihilated) and the deer’s ability to thrive in close proximity of bi-peds have probably as much to do with the drastic rise in deer numbers as hunter land conservation though. Looking forward to this episode on whitetails. “Nature” always teaches me something new about every species they profile, even the ones I think I know well.

  • Kenny Klein

    I manage a high fenced 500-acre enclosure where our family maintains a herd of about 50 whitetails. Over the years, I’ve come to respect the incredible intelligence and tenacity of these beautiful creatures even if I do have to “cull” or “harvest” them. We mere humans could learn a lot from their most efficient and organized social behavior! They have their doe and buck groups and specific territories that they, as well as we respect – all about “quality of life.”

  • Dennis Cass

    I was astonished that the white deer at Seneca Army Depot were not mentioned. As some of the show was filmed only a few dozen miles away, surely the producers were aware of them. While some albino deer do exist, not all white deer are albinos. It seemed like the producers wanted to create a false mystique.

    And I agree with the above comments – that hunting is part of the reality of coexisting with deer, regardless of one’s personal feelings. To have ignored hunting in the interest of avoiding controversy seems more timid than the deer depicted in this documentary.

  • Paula Esposito

    In your part about the white deer you did not mention the herd in the Finger Lakes Region of New York located on the Seneca Army Depot in the towns of Varick and Romulus. Everytime you drive by there are albino white tails out grazing.

  • Ramona Hernandez

    Private life of deer was great!! Can I get it on DVD?

  • Robert F

    What if absolution doesn’t come from the number of slaves that are left alive, or the increasing size of the deer population? What if the effect of our “sport” has nothing to do with the short term ecology of an environment that has no possibility of ever again resembling what or where a deer was meant to be? What if what we are doing has more to do with ourselves than the deer? We are learning, though much too slowly, that our “underlings” in the living world are closer to us than we have previously thought. And, if 95% of the life that the planet has ever known is now extinct, perhaps our time here is not a numbers game at all, but merely a chance to appreciate it for the wonderful creation that it is. If so, why don’t we act like it?

  • Carol

    I enjoy Nature programming, and this focus on deer was especially interesting. One small correction to the narration regarding Key Deer (the tiny cousins of white tail deer)—the narrator notes that the deer evolved into a physically smaller version of the white tail because of the limited availability of food on the islands. He also implied that this occurs with other species for the same reason. Availability of food sources always plays a role in the evolution of any species, but the narrator oversimplifies. He should have consulted with the professor of wildlife from Texas A&M. In tropical and subtropical humid environments where vegetation is abundant, animals such as deer can be smaller in size because they no longer have to carry a large food supply on their bodies to get through a cold winter. Bears, mosquitoes, and other species must eat massive amounts of their respective food sources during the growing season and then live off of this storage of calories through the non-growing season. The deeper you go into long winter environments, the larger the species needs to be. Deer and their cousins moose and elk are the same. Limited availability of local food sources will certainly affect the deer during specific events but the overall decrease in size over longer periods of time are the result of food being available all year long—the opposite of being limited.

  • Jessica

    Great program! Will there be teachers’ resources/lessons like some of the other Nature programs have? Thanks

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