The Hidden Life of Deer: Lessons from the Natural World

Published By: Harper

Book Category: Non-Fiction, Nature

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Reviewed by Diane Snyder

Stand with the author, Elizabeth Marshall Thomas, and gaze out the window of her home in New Hampshire – not on streets and stores, but on fields and woods filled with natural life. Ms. Thomas is an experienced observer of nature, having spent time in Namibia observing elephants and on Baffin Island observing wolves. She is also the author of the wonderful best-selling book, The Hidden Life of Dogs.

What began her study of the deer that visited her farm was the acorn famine. The oak trees were not producing acorns that particular year, and Ms. Thomas explains that it is one of nature’s ways to control populations. She felt the need to assist the wildlife by putting out corn for them, and thus began many years of supplying an ever-increasing variety and amount of wildlife, including turkey and bear, the extra nourishment to help them through the lean months.

Realizing that identifying a specific deer in a herd was much harder than it is with elephants, Ms. Thomas began identifying small groups of deer and found they had hierarchies. Her first group was called the Group Alpha, which appeared to be in the upper status level of all the groups.

Because winter months are so trying on the wild life, no person or vehicle is allowed into the woods and forests around her home. During the warmer months, Ms. Thomas explores the forests for places the deer choose to bed in, finding these spots to be the perfect microclimates for protection from the harsh elements and for camouflage.

This book is about more than observing the habits and interactions of the various wildlife found in the woods and forest of New Hampshire. Ms. Thomas makes it clear we are not just observers in this natural world but just a small part of it. She addresses many issues involving our deer popular including Fish and Game Department, deer management, hunting and vehicles as well as the feeding of deer.

Armchair Interviews says: This is an ideal book for anyone interested in learning of the world around them and the wildlife that it holds.

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