February 2016

Deer Scat

Author: Paul deVere

Well, it was sad. One crisp winter morning as I made my way from the nether world of Jasper County down SC 170, heading toward U.S. 278 on my way to a pet super store, I saw the first one. It wasn’t there the day before, so I figured it was new, the remains of a white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus), South Carolina’s “state animal” (1972, Carolina Code of Laws, Title 1, Chapter 1, Article 9, Section 1-1-650). In the nightly contest on Lowcountry highways, it seems always the same, Car 1, Deer 0.

As I rounded the overpass and made it onto U.S. 278 it was unbelievable. I encountered four (!) more unclaimed* (see note below) deer carcasses on U.S. 278 between the intersections of SC 170 and Sawmill Creek Road. There was a dead deer at Tanger 1 entrance for crying out loud!

(*Note: From SC Department of Natural Resources website Q&A, “Q. What if my vehicle hits a deer? A. If the deer is freshly killed, it can be given to a charitable institution or kept by the finder as long as there is an incident report from the law enforcement officials that responded to the accident.”)
This (dead deer) used to upset me (well, it still does on a certain level), but then I became much more upset at the quality of our deer hunters and huntresses in Jasper and Beaufort counties. Yes, deer season is well behind us, but in this off season, I strongly encourage you to spend much more time (my emphasis) at the range and PRACTICE, PRACTICE, PRACTICE! Hunters! Obviously you could greatly lessen this danger (car/deer) if you stopped fooling around with all that camo stuff (Did you know you can get a Victoria’s Secret camo mini skirt? I didn’t!) and scattering bags of deer corn (as my old neighbor in Sea Pines used to do!) and get your Marlin 336 (a real deer rifle) and bring home some venison steak. Of course, while you’re doing so, you would also lessen the number of perpetrators who were the reason I had to leave the peaceful (except in deer season) banks of Boyd Creek and head on over to the pet super store: deer scat.

Scat. It has been my cross to bear and my dog’s delight. Ask any dog. Labs like to roll in it (personal experience). Border Collies like to “analyze it” via nose, mouth, ingestion, etc. (personal experience). Even the smaller breeds (Pomeranian, Maltese, Shih Tzu, Yorkshire terrier) find deer poop fascinating. (Shared experience with dog owners in pet super store at the dog shampoo aisle. Do you have any idea how much oatmeal shampoo with aloe, green tea and a variety of B vitamins costs? $24.95, that’s how much!)

Living on the outer rings of civilization (think x-urban plus 1) where I do has extraordinary rewards. Quiet (except in deer season), natural wonders (if you overlook the mountains of trash on the roadside (Leave that old mattress; I’m using it for my mushroom bed next spring), and little traffic (except in deer season). The downside is deer poop. There is an excess of deer scat in our forests (to say nothing of the patch of pine trees next to my house). In many respects, it is, I believe, worse than skunk ordure (poop). The jury is still out on that.

While I was lathering up my Border collie for the second time (deer scat requires at least one “rewash”, thus my trip to the pet super store) on our back deck with the temperature hovering at about 50 degrees F, I was pondering the extraordinary aroma deer scat expresses. After all, a white-tailed deer is a vegan, so how bad can its poop smell?

Answer. Really, really, extremely bad, even after one sudsing. To eradicate the deer poop aroma on any dog, not only is it the minimum two sudsings (see above), it must be followed by a hypoallergenic rinse that includes rose hips, vitamins D, E, K, hydrogen peroxide and ground cloves: $39.95, 8 oz. For both sudsing and rinse, you cannot use enough water. Seriously!

To find a scientific answer about the intense level of offensiveness of deer scat, I turned to my old buddy, Dr. Bob (requested last name be withheld), a faculty member in the Animal and Veterinary Sciences Department at (requested university name be withheld). “It’s poop, you idiot. All poop stinks.”

Whatever. My advice: Deer poop is not to be taken (and if you can help it, never taken) lightly. While your dog (no matter what the breed) might think his/her encounter with scat is some sort of aroma therapy to balance out his/her extraordinary fear/anxiety cause by the sound of hunters attempting to fatally whack our state animal (white tail deer are on the decline, by the way), DO NOT believe your dog!

There are much better ways to handle fearful or anxious pets. For example:

1. When the shooting commences, allow your dog to run for cover under your bed. There’s room enough for both of you. Note: Do not squeeze your dog too tightly every time a shot rings out; that might trigger the opposite effect.
2. Take your dog to the beach. If he/she likes to swim, that can ease the trauma of hearing that Marlin 336 go off like it was right next door! If he/she fears the sound of waves crashing on shore, allow that fear to overcome the anxiety caused by gunshots. A five-mile stroll down the strand with decent roiling waves pounding the sand usually works.
3. For the truly brave at heart, teach your dog to “leave it” as you walk him/her near deposits of deer scat. Note: Have that shampoo at the ready.
4. DO NOT FEED THE DEER DEER CORN IN YOUR FRONT YARD!

So, be advised. If you spot Bambi anywhere near your favorite walking trail, leash your dog. Give him/her no quarter. A moment of inattention can lead to an odious disaster. But maybe you already know that. 

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