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Deer are hooved, herbivorous mammals belonging to the cervidae familiy. They are known for their iconic antlers, which can be a strong part of the experience of people with this species identity. Many have felt misrepresented by stereotypical ideas about deer as fragile, gentle creatures and have challenged these perceptions in their personal essays.

Experiences[edit | edit source]

Behaviour[edit | edit source]

Many deer describe a common state of mind. They see themselves as wary and sensitive, often to the point of paranoia.[1][2][3] They may feel as if they are constantly primed to run or fight.[2][3] They can spook easily,[4] and some keep their distance from people as a result.[2] However, they can also be curious and fanciful when they feel secure,[2][3][4] and many feel a strong sense of commitment to the people who they do feel safe around. Larger species are generally more confident overall.[3]

Other instincts a deer may experience include wanting to kick or bolt when startled,[5] a desire to graze on plants,[5] and a preoccupation with strong smells.[3][4] People whose forms are male may experience behaviours related to the rutting season.[3]

Antlers[edit | edit source]

The phantom sensation of antlers is a prominent experience for many deer,[1][3] even some who are female.[5] Some have described a feeling of heaviness on their head associated with them.[3][5] The sensations may change throughout the year as the antlers go through their growth cycle, even potentially being completely absent for part of the time.[1][3] The shape and size of a deer's antlers, as well as the specific times of year they grow and change, can help a person narrow down their specific species.[1][3][5]

People who connect to deer in a more metaphorical manner often see the antlers as a major feature of the archetype.[3][5]

As a prey animal[edit | edit source]

Deer have expressed objections to romanticized images that paint them as delicate and elegant, or define them solely in terms of being a prey species.[4][5] Does in particular can often be stereotypically associated with purity. In her essay "I am not the grace of the doe," yourdeer details the many ways that reality does not reflect this, including how some deer will opportunistically eat meat.[4] She and others choose to reframe the perception of deer as animals with strong survival capabilities.[2][6] In "My Antlers are the Biggest Liars I Know," Leisk says:
Deer is not prey. He becomes it only when things have gone wrong. All species are designed to survive; no species voluntarily becomes another’s meal. Deer’s behaviors are not about being prey – they arise because deer has what it takes to live.[6]

References[edit | edit source]

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 Leisk. "Coyotedeer" (Archived version)
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 Leisk. "Seeking the Self and (Hardly) Making Sense of It" (Archived version)
  3. 3.00 3.01 3.02 3.03 3.04 3.05 3.06 3.07 3.08 3.09 3.10 mordecai midas. (February 12th, 2023) "the hart jumping out of my chest"
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 4.3 4.4 yourdeer. (June 4th, 2013) "I am not the grace of the doe"
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 5.3 5.4 5.5 5.6 Leaps-Highest. (October 1st, 2022) "An Antlered Doe Among All Deer"
  6. 6.0 6.1 Leisk. (February 25th, 2007) "My Antlers are the Biggest Liars I Know"