Pamela Glaser

My Science Project: The Very Hungry Mule Deer

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Pamela

Research

O A mule deer smells food with the nose and sees food with the eyes. Deer eat food and make a crunchy noise. They cannot hear enemies like wolves. Deer take a bite and look for dangers. They do not stay still.

OIn autumn, mule deer want to get hog-fat. Near farms, deern eat apples dropped off trees. They find corn left in fields. Near the woods, they eat falling leaves from aspen trees. Some like acorns from oak trees. They eat ponderosa pine, berries, sagebrush, Indian paintbrush and sunflower seeds.

OBefore winter, mule deer are fat. They use up their fat when the weather is cold and the food is gone. The mule deer are very hungry. They have only a little bit of food. They eat dry leaves, sagebrush, berries, cherries and sunflower seeds. If you cut a tall tree stump, deer will eat tree sprouts. Sprouts are good deer food. They eat sticks smaller than pencils. Mule deer stand on their back legs to reach tree branches.

OIn spring, deer are very hungry. Near farms, they love new alfalfa. They sleep in alfalfa beds at night. Near the woods, mule deer eat grass, sunflowers and wild oats. In summer, near farms, they find soybeans, clover, peas and alfalfa to eat. In the woods, mule deer eat mushrooms, ponderosa pine, grass, berries and cherries. Some deer feed in water to eat water plants and pond scum. They hide from stinging, bloodsucking insects.

ODeer do funny things. Some deer go fishing or eat dead birds. When they eat too much food, deer get a stomachache. When they eat corn, sugar beets, grapes, pears or wheat too quickly, they feel sick. On windy days, many apples are dashed on the ground. Deer eat too many apples and get a stomachache. Deer also like salt. They do not lick salt blocks, but eat salty dirt.

OHere are some really great books plus a video about mule deer:
The Deer of North America by Leonard Lee Rue
Mule Deer: Behavior, Ecology and Conservation by Erwin and Peggy Bauer
Mule Deer Country by Valerius Geist
Never Grab a Deer by the Ear by Colleen Stanley Bare
The Mule Deer of Hidden Creek by Grinko Films, Inc.

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Come and Get It!

Question

OI asked the question: "Do mule deer like fruit the best?" I bought bags of sunflower seeds, alfalfa, 3-way grain (barley, oats and corn with molasses) and a salt block in Florissant. I bought shiny pans and fruit (apples and frozen strawberries) at City Market in Woodland Park.

OI filled a pitcher to measure the food and poured it into a shiny pan. The pitcher is 9 inches high. I put a salt block in the yard. I put the pans of food in our yard and sat on a chair on the deck to watch. I watched the deer eat and counted how many were standing around one pan eating at the same time. After the experiment, I measured how much food was left. I subtracted from 9 inches to get how much was eaten. I did three experiments. I figured out the averages and colored graphs.

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Crunch, Crunch, Crunch!

Experiment

OSaturday - I did the first experiment in the afternoon on Saturday, April 14, 2001. The sky was sunny, but a strong wind was blowing. I saw no snow in the yard where the deer ate. The mule deer were not very hungry. They did not finish all their food.

OSeven mule deer ate the food. The mule deer smelled the apples and alfalfa. The mule deer looked around for danger. They looked around and saw a chipmunk and my family. The 3-way grain disappeared first. They almost finished the black sunflower seeds. Alfalfa and fruit were not their favorite foods. No deer licked the salt block. Sometimes a deer hit another with its hoof. It was upset that the other deer would take all the food. When the deer got scared, they ran away. One deer hit the pan of alfalfa and the pan rolled.

OMonday - I did the second experiment in the morning on Monday, April 16, 2001. The sky was sunny and the wind was calm. I saw no snow in the yard where the deer ate. We saw many kinds of birds. The mule deer were not very hungry. They did not finish all their food.

OFive mule deer ate the food. The mule deer smelled the apples and alfalfa, but they did not taste the alfalfa. The mule deer looked around for danger. The 3-way grain disappeared first. They ate almost the same amount of black sunflower seeds and fruit. Alfalfa was not their favorite food. No deer licked the salt block. Sometimes a deer hit another with its hoof. It was upset that the other deer would take all the food.

OTuesday - I did the third experiment in the afternoon on Tuesday, April 17, 2001. The sky was sunny and the wind was strong. All the snow has disappeared. We saw some chickadees. The mule deer were not very hungry. They did not finish all their food.

OThree mule deer came first, a mother and two fawns. The mule deer smelled the apples and alfalfa, but did not eat any. They ate most of the 3-way grain and some sunflower seeds. No deer licked the salt block. Sometimes the mother deer hit a fawn with her hoof. She was upset that her fawns would take all the food.

OThe three mule deer left and six new ones came. They finished the 3-way grain and ate a lot of sunflower seeds. Only two liked the fruit. Two ate a little bit of the alfalfa since the other deer did not share the seeds or fruit. A chickadee landed on a bird box near the deer. It scared the deer with its song, but they came back to eat more.

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Watching for Enemies

Answer

OI asked the question: "Do mule deer like fruit the best?" The answer is no! Mule deer like 3-way grain the best, then sunflower seeds and then fruit. Alfalfa was last! Both graphs show the answer to my question:

Most Deer Graph

Inches Eaten Graph

OI learned many things. I did my first experiment. I read graphs. I used a calculator for math. My mother helped me
- as my secretary: typing my report and what I learned in my research and experiments,
- as my math coach: helping me with math above my level (computer graphs, fractions and doing averages) and
- as my photographer: taking pictures of deer.

OBut, I thought of the idea, question and kind of food. I measured the pitcher and food. I printed everything that is written by hand. I did the subtraction problems, colored the graphs and figured out the answer to my question.

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Aspen

Mommy's Other Pages

Little Homeschool in the Rockies
Homeschooling Children Who "Aut" to Be Home
Learning Styles: How to Reach your Challenging Learner
Charlotte Mason Homeschooling: Reflections on the 20 Principles
Pamela Glaser: Her Interests, Therapies and Progress
David Glaser: His Interests
David Glaser: His Science Project on Bubbles

Images of Pamela, deer and aspen made by Steve and Tammy.
Bar image courtesy of Windy's Design Studio.


Last updated 4/29/01.
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