Zipper’s On the Loose!

I was coming home from the grocery store today and had to wait while a herd of Axis deer moseyed across the driveway. They’ve been hanging out in the shade in one of the dry creek beds that give our hill its name, and they are getting comfortable with our comings and goings. We always have Whitetail at the water tubs we keep filled, but it’s been a few years since we saw this many Axis.

Axis bucks keep watch

I suppose the hot, dry weather is attracting the Axis to the shade in the draw and to the water tubs. I know they’re making good use of the water because I have to fill the tubs in the morning and evening now. When it was just the Whitetail I only needed to do an evening fill. I could sometimes get away with skipping a day. Now the popular tub is getting drained twice a day and the other tub is getting a lot of use.

The herd drinks from both water tubs

I can tell an Axis from a Whitetail and a buck from a doe, but I’ll be darned if I can tell one individual deer from another. They seem to keep each other straight, though, at least as far as I can tell. But we have managed to name one of this season’s Whitetail fawns and keep him (or her?) identifiable as we watch her (or him?) grow.

Zipper, Mom, and their traveling companion

Zipper and Mom show up every evening about the same time and always have another doe with them. She may be just a friend or she may be Grandma, I suppose. She looks older than Mom, but I’m not an expert deer ager. I’m more of a beer ager, and I try not to let it get too old. I’ve been doing pretty well at that job this summer, just like the Axis and Whitetail have been doing a good job on their libation of choice.

Zipper earns his name
And keeps earning it

Despite the pandemic hoopla, doom predictions, and social-political food fights going on, it looks like a pretty normal Texas Hill Country August up here on Dry Creek Hill. The grass and trees want rain, the Axis and Whitetail want water, and I want to sip a cool one and enjoy the day. I’ll be trying to sharpen my deer identification skills while I ponder it all. I hope the deer don’t start wearing masks.

A version of this post was published in The Bandera Prophet.

2 thoughts on “Zipper’s On the Loose!

  1. shoreacres

    They’re so beautiful. I’ve never seen them as close as this, but I’ll occasionally see a few on ranches in your area. At first I thought I was seeing Whitetail fawns, but eventually I decided that herds of fawns probably weren’t roaming the hill country. That’s when I asked a question and learned about the Axis.

    I enjoyed the illusion of a river running through your place in the third photo. I think that must be a road, with shadows from the trees playing on it.

    1. Charles Prokop Post author

      I thought the same thing when I first saw Axis. I still have to double check to see if it’s a Whitetail fawn or a small Axis occasionally. The dark stripe down the spine and the white neck and chest are definitive clues. We sometimes have large herds crossing our property and hanging out around the water tubs, but then we’ll go for months without seeing more than an Axis or two. I suppose it has to do with the availability of food and water, and we always have a full water tub.

      I hadn’t seen the “river” in the photo until you mentioned it, but it’s easy to see after you point it out. It’s our asphalt driveway, catching the sun and shadows in just the right way.

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