Why Deer?

I often said I’m not interested in working with deer. This winter however, I find myself working for the Pennsylvania Game Commission as a Deer Biologist Aid. It goes to show that you never know where you will end up. So, why did I take a job working with deer?

Everybody wants to work with deer. Well, there are many aspiring wildlife professionals that want to work with deer. At least, that has been my general observation over the last several years. Why wouldn’t they? Deer are beautiful and interesting creatures and there is still much to learn about them. Deer research and management receives a significant share of conservation dollars from a variety of stakeholders, creating an abundance of jobs. Furthermore, many of us grew up observing hunting traditions that have fostered a deep admiration for these animals.

With this said, there are a variety of reasons why I didn’t hop on this bandwagon. Perhaps the biggest reason was that I just wanted to be different. The path leading to my career in wildlife has been anything but traditional. I find no reason to find normalcy now. Additionally, I always had a soft spot in my heart for the underappreciated species — the underdogs — those that receive little to no funding or attention. Maybe I like the animals that are a little different and are off most people’s radar. There is much to learn about these species and they are just fascinating.

This fall, I found myself reexamining this rationale. After all, I returned from Yellowstone without any job prospects. Thoughts of spending time at home precluded my job search. By this time however, I needed a job and my part time Uber driving gig would eventually drive me nuts. Perusing the job boards, I discovered the Pennsylvania Game Commission’s posting for Seasonal Deer Biologist Aids and I revisited the notion of working with deer. I had always wanted to get some experience working with a larger mammal. Plus, deer are drivers of ecosystem change. In a way, I would be exploring the other half of the Deer-Forest Study that I had worked on previously. And, this opportunity would be a way to engage my career while not stationed too far from home. Therefore, I applied and interviewed and accepted a position with the PGC.

Thus begins my next chapter: A Winter of Whitetails. This series of blog posts will take you along for a winter’s season of trapping white-tailed deer in south central Pennsylvania. This is something entirely new to me. I never tackled a deer and tried to fit a GPS collar around its neck! Additionally, I’m working with a new crew in a new living arrangement. I’m going to take a slightly different approach to my normal blogging style. This time, I’m going to go with some weekly updates; but of course, I’ll also write deeper posts here and there. I hope you enjoy!

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