Rudolph the legendary red-nosed reindeer, immortalized by Gene Autry in 1949, is not the only deer to experience rejection. Dragon, a white-faced deer, may not go down in history like Rudolph, but he was rejected by his mother and is now attracting attention in Michigan.
Bunny, a piebald whitetail deer, birthed male twin fawns the end of May. She immediately started stomping on one of them trying to kill it. Ranch co-owner Hilary Powell rescued the fawn before the doe could kill it.
The Powells named the fawn Dragon. At two weeks of age Dragon was the star of a fascinating wildlife tour when we visited Deer Tracks Junction in Cedar Springs, Michigan on one of our camping trips. Deer Tracks Junction is a working ranch and animal preserve.
Dragon is a handsome animal with completely milk-white face, legs, and underside. He has sparkling blue eyes and a pink nose.
Piebald deer like Bunny and Dragon have a genetic defect that produces large white areas on the coat. The defect occurs in less than 1 percent of whitetail deer. In addition to white patches, the piebald genetic defect often causes impaired vision, hearing, and kidney function. Dragon is deaf.
Bunny rejected Dragon immediately after birth and tried to stomp him to death. You can still see one of the doe’s hoof marks on the fawn’s hide.
In the wild, does typically kill piebald fawns. Their white coloring keeps them from blending with foliage when trying to hide. The mother doe instinctively does not waste resources on a fawn that won’t make it.
We saw Dragon on our tour, and I even fed him goat milk from a bottle.
We saw fawns that had been born that very morning along with numerous does and bucks.
It was interesting to spot newborn fawns hidden in grass beds as we drove through the ranch. Fawns have no smell for two weeks. Predators that happen across them will ignore them since they are odorless.
Tiny fawns are often assumed to be abandoned when humans see them lying alone. Actually, the mother is simply keeping her distance except for nursing intervals, so that her scent is not picked up by the fawn, thus spoiling its “imperceptibility” if it were no longer scentless.
The petting farm portion of Deer Tracks Junction is a bargain at $3, or if you take the wildlife tour, the petting farm is included in the $11 admission for the tour.
The petting farm has goats, mini-donkeys, bunnies, pigs, and chickens.
The petting farm buildings and grounds include many innovative play areas and challenging climbing elements, to keep active youngsters intrigued. The vintage ranch theme is beautifully executed, with each creative element a feast for the eyes plus clean and comfortable besides. Everything has been designed and built by the Powell family working together.
On the ranch tour we saw elk, Tibetan yaks, reindeer, and some 150 whitetail deer from multiple generations.
The deer eagerly ate maple leaves and twigs from our hands. They switch to oak in the fall to clean our their digestive tracts as oak has an antibiotic effect.
Yaks are males and the female is called a nak. So if you are visiting Tibet and someone asks you to milk a yak, you can tell them you don’t have the knack!
We saw bull and doe reindeer, both with impressive racks. Reindeer are the only deer where both males and females sport antlers.
I fed some of the majestic bull elks double handfuls of oats. They snarfed it out of my hands faster than I can eat a spoonful of oatmeal!
I felt the velvet on the elks’ huge racks. In the fall during rutting season you cannot get near the bulls to feed or touch them. They are extremely aggressive and fight constantly.
I also held last year’s antlers from one of the prize bulls. Each antler weighed about 20 lbs.
Every spring the whitetail deer produce about 100 fawns, most of which are sold when old enough.
The ranch also makes money off their champion bull elks. A single straw of elk semen, which will impregnate one doe, ranges from $100 to $22,000 depending on the quality. You can get 150 straws from a bull in a single annual draw.
Why do people have to buy elk semen to impregnate their elk does? Why haven’t scientists figured out by now how to make artificial elk sperm?
The complexity of a sperm cell is far beyond man’s ability to thoroughly understand, much less replicate.
How could such extreme complexity have evolved through random genetic mistakes, all the while remaining functional and improving at each step?
Is it believable that the female’s equipment and egg cell evolved continually in sync with the male?
Evolution is just too unbelievable for a logical person to believe. There must be an intelligent Creator who is responsible for all that we see. He is the God of the Bible.
We thoroughly enjoyed our visit to Deer Tracks Junction. It was an up-close look at a small slice of Creation. The many marvels we saw megaphoned the glory and wisdom of the Almighty.
I recommend Deer Tracks Junction for everyone, from small children to grandparents, as they have activities of interest for all ages.
They even have a delicious ice cream shop for those who just want to enjoy the stuffed animal displays in the lobby. These exhibits include bears, lions, water buffalo, and more in active poses.
Questions to Ponder
- What aspect of Creation do you think is most difficult to believe that it was not created but rather evolved?
- What is your opinion of preserving a genetically inferior animal through human intervention and bottle feeding? Should humans interfere when the parent seeks to execute defective animal offspring?
- It is legal to sell human sperm. What moral or ethical concerns does this raise in your mind?
Share your thoughts on these questions in the comments below. It could encourage or help another reader.
Soli Deo Gloria.
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©William T. Pelletier, Ph.D.
“contending earnestly for the faith”
“destroying speculations against the knowledge of God”
(Jude 1:3; 2 Cor 10:4)
Wednesday July 1, 2015 A.D.
But now ask the beasts, and let them teach you;
And the birds of the heavens, and let them tell you.
Or speak to the earth, and let it teach you;
And let the fish of the sea declare to you.
Who among all these does not know
That the hand of the LORD has done this,
In whose hand is the life of every living thing,
And the breath of all mankind? (Job 12:7-10)