Overview

The animal kingdom operates by ancient rules, and the deer in our woods and backyards can teach us many of them—but only if we take the time to notice.

In the fall of 2007 in southern New Hampshire, the acorn crop failed and the animals who depended on it faced starvation. Elizabeth Marshall Thomas began leaving food in small piles around her farmhouse. Soon she had over thirty deer coming to her fields, and her naturalist's eye was riveted. How did they know when to come, all...

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The Hidden Life of Deer

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Overview

The animal kingdom operates by ancient rules, and the deer in our woods and backyards can teach us many of them—but only if we take the time to notice.

In the fall of 2007 in southern New Hampshire, the acorn crop failed and the animals who depended on it faced starvation. Elizabeth Marshall Thomas began leaving food in small piles around her farmhouse. Soon she had over thirty deer coming to her fields, and her naturalist's eye was riveted. How did they know when to come, all together, and why did they sometimes cooperate, sometimes compete?

Throughout the next twelve months she observed the local deer families as they fought through a rough winter; bred fawns in the spring; fended off coyotes, a bobcat, a bear, and plenty of hunters; and made it to the next fall when the acorn crop was back to normal. As she hiked through her woods, spotting tree rubbings, deer beds, and deer yards, she discovered a vast hidden world. Deer families are run by their mothers. Local families arrange into a hierarchy. They adopt orphans; they occasionally reject a child; they use complex warnings to signal danger; they mark their territories; they master local microclimates to choose their beds; they send countless coded messages that we can read, if only we know what to look for.

Just as she did in her beloved books The Hidden Life of Dogs and Tribe of Tiger, Thomas describes a network of rules that have allowed earth's species to coexist for millions of years. Most of us have lost touch with these rules, yet they are a deep part of us, from our ancient evolutionary past. The Hidden Life of Deer is a narrative masterpiece and a naturalist's delight.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780061902093
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Publication date: 9/15/2009
  • Sold by: HARPERCOLLINS
  • Format: eBook
  • Pages: 256
  • Sales rank: 543,677
  • File size: 844 KB

Meet the Author

One of the most widely read American anthropologists, Elizabeth Marshall Thomas has observed dogs, cats, and elephants during her half-century-long career. In the 1980s Thomas studied elephants alongside Katy Payne—the scientist who discovered elephants' communication via infrasound. In 1993 Thomas wrote The Hidden Life of Dogs, a groundbreaking work of animal psychology that spent nearly a year on the New York Times bestseller list. Her book on cats, Tribe of Tiger, was also an international bestseller. She lives in Peterborough, New Hampshire, on her family's former farm, where she observes deer, bobcats, bear, and many other species of wildlife.

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Sort by: Showing 1 – 4 of 3 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted January 16, 2010

    Very interesting read for those interested in nature.

    The author gives a well informed and researched look into the society of deer. As the hunting of deer declines and the population of deer explodes the sighting of deer in urban and suburban neighborhoods is on the rise. This book may help readers and town planners understand why deer do what they do and why they relocate at different times of the year.
    In our own town, 15 miles south of Boston, there have been 44 deer/vehicle accidents this year-the results are not pleasant for either party. This book is not the answer to that problem, but understanding why the deer do what they do is a start to the solution.

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  • Posted December 17, 2009

    PITCH PERFECT

    Liz Thomas has crafted a magnificent book from her practiced insight into the natural world. Read it in one sitting, then reread it. It is truly an experience to be savored.

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  • Posted December 2, 2009

    A compelling and easy to read reflection for those interested in our relationship and communication with animals, and not only deer!

    Many of us watch the habits of the animals around us, but may not establish a pattern of committment and research through observation that Elizabeth M. Thomas writes about in the book The Hidden Life of Deer. People particularly interested in the disconserting system our society chooses for hunting and animal management may find her book informative. Ms. Thomas's easy style allows us into her observations, and candid activity without providing all the answeres or even all of her personal conclusions, except to leave the reading wanting more. I found I was yearning for a deeper understanding of the way animals communicate with us. The communication between animals and humans is not a new idea, but it is still in an infancy stage. Ms. Thomas teaches us more.

    My reading just happened to coincide with hunting season, and each boom of a rifle continues to leave me sad because we hunt with such a violence. Native American brothers and sisters looked to nature as a sacred aspect of life, giving appropriate thanks to the Great Spirit for the gift of food and the animal that provids it. Our society usually looks only to the violence of the hunt and the size of the antlers--also the bonding of males with beer and guns. These are the remnants left on our roadsides and woods each year. A sad commentary on our society. Ms. Thomas gives glimmers of hope, however, because deer are smarter than we think they are!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 26, 2010

    No text was provided for this review.

Sort by: Showing 1 – 4 of 3 Customer Reviews

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