Gravity and Water and Deer Make Trails Together

I asked the question months back, what will the deer do to even out this hump in their trail, seeing as the lower part slumped on them. We have our answer! They’re just abandoning half of it. Have a look.

Look at all the scrabbling on the lower left, with no clear trail, and the heavy tilling at the upper right. Things are really happening now! The next image shows more detail:

See that? They have a trail coming in from the right, the old trail in the foreground is untouched, and the upper part of the trail, above the old bulge, is churned up from some really vigorous bounding, which deer love, of course. It is also slumping from water and gravity, shifting the deer’s weight to make the trail descend the slope. In the last year, it has moved a metre down slope. That’s pretty speedy! The next image shows details of the lower part of their new trail.

Here you can see the track of a bicycle on the lower trail, untouched by deer but still used by coyotes, quite a slump in the centre of the image, a great thing to avoid, and just below it, the new deer trail coming up from below, then bending to rejoin the upper trail, and all that bounding. I suspect the does are leading their fawns, who struggle up the steeper slope on the lower left, then bound to catch up once they make the bend, and then it’s easier going on the grass again. At this rate, in a year, the whole pressure mound of soil bulging above the centre of the image is going to be pushed further down slope, the grass will have seeded the upper edge of the churned-up trail, and the trail is going to be straight again… well, until it sags some more. It takes a team to make a trail: gravity, earth, water and deer, all together! It’s not just trails. The hills are being carved out, day to day, every day making them more closely resemble deer. And that’s beautiful.

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