【Series】 Spirits of the Kamuy landscape (1) Yezo sika deer
In this series, the transformation of four seasons will be introduced through articles on wild animals that are active in the deep forests, marshes, and ocean as if they were being cradled by “Kamui,” which means deity in the Ainu language. The first installment in the series is the Yezo sika deer of Notsuke Peninsula. (Text and photographs by Tadanobu Shigeru from the Kushiro Branch News Section.)
This is Notsuke Peninsula in the Nemuro region of eastern Hokkaido, where the sun has already started to set very early. Amidst the Japanese silver grass shining in the sunset, a Yezo sika deer with impressive horns strolls leisurely.
When autumn advances, Yezo sika deer enter their mating period. The reddish body color changes to a brown-black winter coat. Horns that have grown over many years branch out and reach up to 65 centimeters in length. Male deer large in body and horn gather a harem so that they can keep multiple female deer to themselves.
As the evening grew into the night, I heard a sharp cry. It was a rutting call to mark his territory and stop other male deer from closing in. The unique cry blends with the blowing north wind to create a late autumn melancholy in the Notsuke Peninsula just before sunset.
After the mating period is over, a very long winter is around the corner. Deep snow covers food for herbivores. A severe season that will affect the fate of living creatures in the area is soon to come.
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