Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “The Hidden Life of Deer: Lessons from the Natural World” as Want to Read:
The Hidden Life of Deer: Lessons from the Natural World
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

The Hidden Life of Deer: Lessons from the Natural World

3.59  ·  Rating details ·  303 ratings  ·  58 reviews
In The Hidden Life of Deer, Elizabeth Marshall Thomas, the New York Times bestselling author of The Hidden Life of Dogs, turns her attention to wild deer, and the many lessons we can learn by observing nature. A narrative masterpiece and a naturalist’s delight, The Hidden Life of Deer is based on the twelve months Thomas, a renowned anthropologist, spent studying the local ...more
Hardcover, 256 pages
Published September 15th 2009 by Harper (first published 2009)
More Details... Edit Details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about The Hidden Life of Deer, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about The Hidden Life of Deer

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
Average rating 3.59  · 
Rating details
 ·  303 ratings  ·  58 reviews

More filters
Sort order
Start your review of The Hidden Life of Deer: Lessons from the Natural World
Will Byrnes
Sep 04, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Stand very still. Breathe as softly as you can. See that little flicking movement? No, not over there, straight ahead, behind the bush. Keep looking. You will see it. I promise. There. Didn't I tell you? Cool, right? Isn’t she beautiful?
One of the foundations on which the study of nature is based is to be still and watch. Yes, there is a lot more to it, but you have to find some inner quiet, clear your mental and sensory palate, stop fidgeting, and allow the images, scents, sounds and feel of the world
Apr 23, 2010 rated it really liked it
Shelves: animals-ethology
Unlike the rest of Elizabeth Marshall Thomas's books, this one was very slight both in size and depth. In a way it was a postscript of life at home to The Old Way: A Story of the First People. That was a wonderful book of the hunter/gatherers of the Kalahari that the author knew so well as 'home' herself, and written about in such depth. Deer might live the Old Way, but most people don't and this was the author living the 'new' way, in the USA.

It was also a long, well-thought out reply to the local Co
Oct 23, 2009 rated it it was ok
The last hundred years, in the eastern United States, have seen a recovery almost unimagined of various mammal species. The Whitetail Deer was down to about half a million around the year 1900. Today, due to a variety of factors, including Resource Game management, the population of this variety of deer has grown to over 20 million. As a result, lots of Americans are seeing more and more deer crossing through and stopping on their property, and people are trying to understand the ecology of thes ...more
Anne Hamilton
Jun 07, 2015 rated it liked it
A curious book. While reading it I felt it was a masterpiece of beauty and lyricism. But when I got to the end, I felt deflated rather than uplifted. It was strangely hollow and unsatisfying but I can't quite put my finger on why.

It was nonetheless a book full of small and fascinating details.

I discovered the both haemoglobin and chlorophyll have a complex structure with almost exactly the same formula - the iron of haemoglobin is replaced by magnesium in chlorophyll.

I a
Jun 10, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nonfiction, 2012
The author, who lives a short distance from me in New Hampshire, started out with a bird feeder by her back door. Then she noticed wild turkeys on her property, and she put out a little corn for them, and soon she was feeding a whole flock of turkeys during the winter. Then, in 2007, the acorn crop that deer and other animals depend on through the winter failed, and a herd of deer began eating the turkeys' corn, giving the author a fascinating opportunity to observe deer behavior first hand thro ...more
Sep 17, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The book a hidden life of deer is a great book that I recommend to anyone who is a fan of animals and how intelligent they are. E.M.T did a amazing job in showing us how deer really think and how society has the wrong idea of them. My favorite part of the book was when she talks about how deer know about microclimates and how they use them for there advantage with hiding and keeping warm. I loved this book and defiantly give it a five star.
Feb 13, 2013 rated it did not like it
I read this book in order to learn something about deer. I still don't know anything about deer! This is a dopey and unscientific book that should be renamed "Why I Ignore Posted Warnings and Feed Deer Corn During Winter." Basically, the author feeds deer because the natural process of nature (some deer dying during the harsh winters) makes her sad.
Apr 06, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: vine
Brilliant satire!

The Hidden Life of Deer deftly skewers the vanity of self-styled animal rescuers who prefer to depend upon their own emotions rather than the hard facts of nature and conservation work. In the great tradition of Christopher Buckley, the author sets up her characters in a series of increasingly ridiculous situations, to which insanity they themselves are unconscious. Written from a purportedly autobiographical viewpoint, Thomas begins the story with the conspiracy of
Feb 28, 2011 rated it liked it
I stumbled upon this book in the rustic and charming Henry Miller library at Big Sur, California. If you have not been there, I highly recommend a visit.

Elizabeth Marshall Thomas’s book is not a simple recitation of the behaviors of the deer on her New Hampshire land. The book is significantly more. It is a lesson on “expanded seeing” and a meditation on humans in a shared territory with the “wild other”. She takes us on a journey through her own experience and teaches us how to witn
Jun 18, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Imhave a friend who had a deer as pet on her land on a Texas river. That deer has moved on with her deer family, and my friend gave me this book.
I learned about protection laws and Nature's laws and inter-species love. Inter-species love allows me to understand does (female deer) as mothers and women and bucks (male deer) as genealogical providers. Inter-species love can lead to being awareNess of our actions affect our relations and others' relations to the Earth.
My friend gifted me
Mary Robinson
Sep 16, 2010 rated it it was ok
Found this when I was looking for books to identify deer bones and was very intrigued. But the book turned out to be more about the author and her rational for feeding the deers at her home, dealing with hunting authorities and some other goofier stuff. She certainly knows deers but I would have liked to learn more about them too.

May 30, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Recommended to Cheri by: Will Byrnes

"A good way to look at other life-forms is to view them all as something like yourself."

"Perhaps our planet isn't much in the general scheme of things -- just a mote of interstellar dust on the far edge of the Milky Way, circling a tiny star that must be smaller than a pinprick in the eyes of god -- but it's our mother."
Nov 19, 2013 rated it really liked it
I'll never look at the deer that come into our back yard the same way again. Now I'm wondering who is mother, sister, aunt, grandchild, etc. This is a very interesting book.
May 18, 2010 rated it really liked it
Shelves: environment
Is actually about other animals as well as deer. Author's main point is to defend her practice of feeding animals. Worth reading if you love studying wild animals.
Jun 12, 2018 rated it liked it
This book, unfortunately, is equal parts genuinely interesting information and (from my perspective) holier-than-thou op-ed against the uninformed, unsympathetic average citizen.

In order: I loved the pieces of the book which actually described deer behavior, as well as the ecosystem surrounding, and influencing them. The author did an excellent job with those pieces.

The more opinionated aspects were at first very relatable, general conservationist sentiments. As he book wore on, tho
Jul 15, 2018 rated it liked it
I was drawn to this title as I was always curious about the deer that show up in our yard. Would I like to learn about their "hidden life"? You bet! But this book was a little "all over the place." The author is pretty well-intentioned but she didn't really tell me much I didn't know. She rambles a bit and went on for pages about rats in her house and a random milkweed in her fields. She calls herself a naturalist and I was reminded of some of Diane Ackerman's writings about nature. Ackerman als ...more
Ms. Andujar
Feb 10, 2018 rated it did not like it
“She phones the Audubon Society (to which she gave generous contributions) and asked how much food a city pigeon should eat. The response shocked and upset her. The ROTTWEILER who took her call berated her so fiercely that my POISED AND WORLDLY mother gasped and became a little shaky.
Before this, I also had contributed to the Audubon Society, but their attack on my mother distressed me. After that, their appeals for funds evoked the needless pain they had caused a kind, caring woman.
I threw aw
Jun 25, 2017 rated it it was ok
Recommends it for: no one
There a lot of wonderfully observant details about deer behavior. I'm sure a lot of layperson animal lovers find delight here. But I found Thomas' constant rationalization for doing something she said she shouldn't be doing to be both annoying and self-righteous. I also feel the same about her continual disdain for and digs at the wildlife management professionals. You can't have it both ways. You can't believe you should "protect" nature by artificially altering it's ways either by feeding to k ...more
Sep 27, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Quite an interesting read

This is less a scientific treatise and more an odd to naturalism. The author is a self-proclaimed tree hugger and I suspect her political views and mine are far apart. But she displays such open appreciation of the natural world , along with an ability to be open to other viewpoints such as the place of hunting in that world, that the reader also puts aside preconceptions and enjoys the observation.
Rolland J Standish
Fascinating look at the secret lives of deer and much more!

A wonderful look at nature surrounding us and revealing so much new information, comparing the many similarities between humans and other animals, including deer. I liked her total honesty and ability to see way beyond the clear and obvious. Her training, family background, and highly developed curiosity showed me the very intelligent ways deer manage their surroundings, and especially humans. A really good read!
Oct 04, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: animals
Fascinating information. Elizabeth has me analyzing my resident deer behavior, recognizing the individual, two groups that visit us daily. I have now learned that the one deer I named "magnificent" is an alpha deer because her behavior and how the others treat her.

I read a lot about animal behavior and found the content a little shallow but good. Great info the which I can build on the understanding of this ungulate family.
Jul 29, 2019 rated it really liked it
2007 NH summer had few acorns so the author fed deer on her Peterborough property.
Jan Morrison
Jan 19, 2019 rated it really liked it
I enjoyed it but not as much as her one on dogs. She simply didn't have as much to say so went on a bit. Nonetheless very interesting.
Clayton Brannon
Dec 03, 2017 rated it it was amazing
A very enjoyable read about the life of deer from the view point of a person loves the natural world.
Sep 10, 2018 is currently reading it
Shelves: nonfiction, nature
Audible, Libby and Cloud library do not have.
Oct 18, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: animals
The Hidden Life of Deer: Lessons from the Natural World is Elizabeth Marshall Thomas’s description of what she observed about the wild animals, particularly the deer, in her backyard. It wasn’t what the title led me to expect. Nonetheless, I enjoyed reading that she often did what I do and thought what I think about the wildlife, particularly the deer, in my own backyard.

I thought this book was going to be an authoritative explanation of the lives of the deer we see in our backyards
Jacob W
Oct 25, 2013 rated it it was ok
Elizabeth Marshall Thomas' The Hidden Life of Deer: Lessons from the Natural World is a nonfiction book. It is about an anthropologist's personal observations and interpretations of the deer in her yard.

Thomas attempts to learn about the deer who live by her New Hampshire home after seeing them eat the corn she had set out for the turkeys. This leads her to feed the deer as much corn as she can, against the recommendations of the state game and fish department. She watches the deer w
This book wasn’t quite what I expected. When I saw the title, I assumed it would be more about, I don’t know, deer? I expected an insider’s knowledge of their habits, and while there is that aspect, the author covers many other topics, from the dangers of using rat poison in a rural setting to nature’s recycling of our remains. While much of this extra content is interesting, it occasionally came across as long-winded rambling at best or sermonizing at worst. The last chapter, “Our Place in the ...more
Anne Gruel
Nov 06, 2013 rated it it was ok
I was hoping for a well-written non-fiction account of the world through the eyes of deer from a biologist or at least an informed naturalist. The Hidden Life of Deer is not what I expected or had wanted to read. This book is, in essence, a diary. A homeowner in New Hampshire, who happens to have some experience writing books of anthropology, decides to feed the deer on her property one winter when acorns are scarce. She records her actions, her observations, and her feelings about the deer and ...more
Lisa Kearns
Jun 24, 2013 rated it liked it
I looked forward to reading this book, since the author has written other well received books on animal behavior. Elizabeth Marshall Thomas wrote this book about the deer who come to eat corn she puts out for them in winter. From the first page she begins apologizing for feeding the deer, and spends the next several hundred pages justifying her decision to the reader while letting us know that the Fish & Game people don't know what they're talking about. She apparently doesn't see the irony ...more
« previous 1 next »
topics  posts  views  last activity   
Heathens, Pagans ...: Let's Share Our Animal Encounters... 195 138 Jun 30, 2015 01:49PM  

Readers also enjoyed

  • Dewey: The Small-Town Library Cat Who Touched the World
  • The Sports Gene: Inside the Science of Extraordinary Athletic Performance
  • A Few Green Leaves
  • Tamed and Untamed: Close Encounters of the Animal Kind
  • Black Wave: A Family's Adventure at Sea and the Disaster That Saved Them
  • The Bohemian Flats
  • The Red Bandanna: A Life. A Choice. A Legacy.
  • The Ditchdigger's Daughters: A Black Family's Astonishing Success Story
  • The Trip to Echo Spring
  • The Education of Will: A Mutual Memoir of a Woman and Her Dog
  • Shroud for a Nightingale (Adam Dalgliesh #4)
  • The Heretic's Daughter
  • Death in Holy Orders (Adam Dalgliesh, #11)
  • An Unsuitable Job for a Woman (Cordelia Gray, #1)
  • Whitethorn Woods
  • Bound
  • When We Were Romans
  • The Light in the Ruins
See similar books…
Elizabeth Marshall Thomas is the author of The Harmless People, a non fiction work about the Kung Bushmen of southwestern Africa, and of Reindeer Moon, a novel about the paleolithic hunter gatherers of Siberia, both of which were tremendous international successes. She lives in New Hampshire.
“I saw that animals were important. I saw that plants were even more important. I was also to learn that compared to many of the other species, we weren't important at all except for the damage we do. We do not rule the natural world, despite our conspicuous position in it. On the contrary, it is our lifeline, and we do well to try to understand its rules.” 19 likes
More quotes…