Steiner Family Chooses Deer over Dogs

Posted on June 6, 2013 by

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Raising an animal big or small is a hard responsibility, although there are some animals that need a little more than just a sprinkle of fish food.

I don’t have your normal house pet. My family and I have been raising deer for about 17 years, give or take.

Our first deer we ever brought home was named Nakita. She was bottle fed and trained to come up to any human that was around. She loved to be left out of the pen we keep them in, to run around and play, and she never ran off though.

She would eat lollipops, chips, bread, and just about anything a human would–on occasion. Nakita’s normal diet consisted of cracked dry corn and a feed mix especially for deer.

Nakita was the start of it all. Now we have seven deer that we raise, as well as several that are pregnant as of now. For years we would watch the doe deliver the fawns.  When that happens, like most mothers of animals, she eats the sac off of the fawn. We normally wait a few weeks until the baby gets all the enzymes and nutrients from the mother.

We used to take the babies away from their mothers when they were old enough and keep them in our house until they were comfortable around us. Imagine trying to eat dinner one night and a baby deer is sleeping by your feet; it truly is an experience!

When Nakita was getting too big to be in our house–she started trying to eat pizza off the stove and was knocking things over–we took her outside. When we started raising more deer, we stopped keeping them in the house as long as we had, though we still brought Nakita inside for a Christmas picture by the tree. The only problem was, deer love to eat pine trees. There are only a select few plants a deer won’t munch on.

A few years ago we were blessed with a rare deer; one of our doe had a black fawn, which is the exact opposite of an albino. We have never been able to sustain one until it was a full-grown adult.

Due to how rare they are, it is hard to keep them alive without proper medicines. There are vets in the area that deal with deer, but very few do. We now have the people we need to help keep these fawns alive.

For example, we learned remedies such as mixing canned spiced pumpkin into their bottles to help prevent diarrhea and soothe the stomach. Although deer in the wild know with whom they can and can’t breed, they are less aware when they are in a pen together.  We usually separate them because, even though humans would consider it inbreeding, mother and son and father and daughter can breed; only brother and sister cannot.

Raising deer is a hard job; you need the time, patience, and permits to keep them. They all have their own special personality that defines each and every one. It’s not hard to fall in love with them quickly.  Even for hunters, there is a big difference a deer that is dead and one that is alive and close to you. There’s a bond you create when you feed them and mother them.

We have lost several deer over the years because of sickness and other natural causes. We do not kill them, we do not eat them, and, no, you cannot ride them. The deer are outstanding creatures, and they are just as much of our pets as your common house dog or goldfish.

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