Welcome to a photographic journey through the fields, woods, and marshes of New England
Here I’ll be sharing some of my favorite photographs from my forthcoming book Naturally Curious. I’ll be updating my blog periodically with new images, new stories, and more glimpses of New England in all seasons.
WHITE-TAILED DEER HOOVES
White-tailed deer are members of the order Artiodactyla, or even-toed ungulates, along with sheep, goats and cows. A deer’s hooves are multi-functional and contribute greatly to its survival. The relatively small size of a hoof provides minimal contact with the ground, thereby reducing friction and allowing greater speed. Technically, a deer is running on its toenails. The hoof’s outer shell of keratinized material is quite hard, and enables the deer to dig in the snow for food, signal alarm by stomping on the ground, fight off predators by striking them with a hoof and drive off yearlings when a doe is about to give birth. Inside the keratin shell the sole has a soft, spongy surface, adapted for gripping the substrate on which the deer walks or runs. Unfortunately, because of its pliable nature, it is also vulnerable to cuts and bruises. The white-tailed deer whose track is pictured had just crossed a shallow river that was open in the middle, but frozen along its edges. The deer had cut its hoof, possibly on the ice or a stone in the water, and when it climbed out of the river and stepped onto the snow, it was apparent that it had sustained an injury. The brightness of the blood indicates that the deer had passed by fairly recently.