Strange Wild Animal Behavior



Living remotely and at high altitude (9,800’) we have seen some pretty strange things in our 23 years living full time in the Sangre de Cristo mountains of southern Colorado. We had a herd of deer that would come to visit for several months each year and they would follow me around while I would work outside. Then there was a hen turkey that did the same. Wherever I go she would be just a few feet away. Or the sage hen that would walk along with me. Then one time there was a black bear that came down the mountain while we were cutting firewood and sat down 20 yards away and watched us cut firewood for the longest time, and when we finished it got back up and went on its way.

Animal behavior often is puzzling. Animal behavior can be puzzling at times and not being an animal behaviorist, I am never really sure what their true intentions are or if they are just curious or possibly they sense we mean no harm and just want to share our company. There once was a mother black bear that stayed around our cabin for several weeks with her two tiny cubs and used us to train them. When the cubs would get close she would signal them and they would run and scamper up a tree. We would be within 15-20’ of her and her cubs and apparently she considered us good subjects to use to train the cubs. 

Do animals sense fear? We can only assume the obvious and that is they are not alarmed by our presence and have a certain degree of trust when we are around. That might be because we are not fearful of them and respect them and their space. I believe animals can sense fear or danger and usually respond to it defensively or aggressively by biting or fleeing. One time we encountered  a mountain lion that was about 20’ from us. It coiled up on the ground, hissed, snarled with ears and lips laid back and showing us some very nice yellow teeth. We stood in place and when the lion sensed we meant no harm it finally got up and bounded away in the opposite direction. I even talk to the birds and often they will let me know when they are out of food and will sit within a few feet of me as I refill their feeder. 

Animal communication. I talk to all our animals and birds, and how much, if anything, they understand I don’t know. In the deer's case, I have found they are much more intelligent than I would have thought. I would give them a request and sometimes they would actually do it. One example was when I asked one buck deer that we were familiar with to let me use his antlers when they were ready to come off. He shook his head right then and one fell off at my feet and then he walked over a few feet and shook the other one off. They are now mounted on the back of our front door and used as a hat rack. No one was more surprised than I was when he did that. 

Elk herds hold a convention. Nothing really puzzled us as much as last month. We looked outside early in the morning and there was a small herd of elk with one mature bull with a nice set of antlers. Then another herd joined them and another and another until there were nine very large and mature bulls and more cows and young elk than we could count. It was during the rut season and usually the bulls don’t intermingle when there are so many eligible cows around.

Shari Swoyer
11/23/2019 7:31:54 AM

We have a large herd of deer that inhabit our ten acres. They wait for our dogs to come outside (4 LARGE dogs), then they and the dogs all run back and forth along the fence, the dogs barking joyfully. It's obvious they are playing and having a great time.

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