Most likely you’ll catch a glimpse of female blacktail deer when you visit the Camp Casey Conference Center. The deer population on Whidbey Island is abundant, due in part to the geography and vegetation, as well as to having few natural predators.
A subspecies of the mule deer, the bucks are seen far less often than does, and can grow to be quite large when found deep in dense forest. Outside Whidbey Island, blacktail deer are often referred to as the Pacific Ghost, and are prized by hunters. They have acute hearing, a keen sense of smell and superb eyesight. Many live their entire lives unseen by humans. That is not the case at Camp Casey.
“They are quite adaptive,” said Ralph Downes, a local officer with the Washington Fish and Wildlife Department. “Blacktail deer in the wild are usually very elusive, even skittish. But they can also adapt to living near and around people. The deer become so used to humans, they lose some fear. But do remember: These are wild animals. Be careful around them.”
The birthing season, May to June, is a time to be extra aware and careful. Mothers are protective of their fawns. Another time when behavior can be unpredictable is during deer mating season, called the rut, mid-October to early December.
There is something special about seeing wildlife. Blacktail deer are truly a part of the local landscape on Whidbey. Keep that camera handy when you visit Camp Casey, so you’ll have the chance to capture some great wildlife photos.
“They are beautiful. I have been in the woods my entire life, and I still stop to marvel at bald eagles, orcas, and wild deer,” said Downes.