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How the DEER and I Survive the Winter Season

Can You Survive the Winter Like a Deer?

How well deer survive the winter depends on three primary factors:

  • The amount of stored fat
  • The availability of natural foods
  • The severity of the winter

Stored Fat

In late summer and fall deer build up fat that will become winter fuel. Acorns and beech nuts — often referred to as “mast” — are valuable sources of this fat. Fat reserves can supply almost one-third of a deer’s winter energy needs. The more fat a deer can accumulate before winter, the greater its energy reserves and the greater the amount of winter weather it can survive.  Deer also develop highly insulated winter coats. Dense inner fur and long, hollow outer hairs create a coat 10 times thicker than the summer coat.  They look very stylish in their new coats!!

Availability of Natural Foods

In winter, deer subsist on buds and twigs of deciduous trees and shrubs such as yellow birch, hazel, dogwood, mountain, striped, red and sugar maple. Cedar and hemlock foliage also provide food. Deer will eat snow for water in the winter and can survive eating bark and some wintergreen bushes. In winter, deer move to suitable cover. They move around less and decrease their metabolism and body temperature. This biological “fine-tuning” enables deer to conserve energy and survive our northern winters.

The Severity of the Winter

Deer pack accumulated snow into a network of trails and runways. Trails allow deer to move easily between food and cover, saving valuable energy reserves. Conifers also reduce winds and moderate the temperature. On cold nights temperatures beneath heavy conifer cover can be ten degrees warmer than in open areas. Deer spend many hours lying under this protection.  However, when temperatures drop to 0 and lower, deer are forced to use increasing amounts of energy to keep warm. To counter this, deer select areas that minimize their exposure to cold and windy conditions and thereby lessen the impact on their energy reserves. For deer, one of the biggest energy drains in winter is movement through the snow.

Now that I know these 3 factors for the DEER to survive the winter,  I have decided to try this myself.

  1. Stored Fat:  I have loaded up on carbs and lots of good sweets..the “mast”  to load on the fat.
  2.  Availability of “NATURAL” foods:  Well there is no shortage of natural chips, Natural Beer, Natural Burgers — you know what I am talking about – we all have our favorites.   Also, I try not to move around too much so that I don’t diminish my fat supply. (Very Important)
  3.  Severity of Winter:  I have my favorite jammy’s and a few handmade quilts to bundle up in  – flip on the gas logs and lay back for a winter of binge-watching a bunch of series on Netflix.  If I have to move around it will be a short distance to the supply of natural foods.

I will let you know in the spring how this worked for me. I may actually survive this winter!!