Until tonight. Tonight the tides began to turn in my favor.
I cannot claim a complete and total victory, but I did manage to capture photographic evidence of the culprit hanging out in my backyard like it was his own personal Garden of Eden.
While I did not manage to photograph him in the act of ravaging the feeder, he is standing directly beneath it and eating something delectable from the ground. Circumstantial evidence at best, but I know he is well aware of the seed supply dangling above his head.
Apparently finished in that area, he is now on the move. What would a deer possibly want after eating a nice dinner from my bird feeder and/or flower garden?
He wants a drink, of course! He just moseyed on over to the birdbath to get a refreshing drink. Didn't seem to phase him in the slightest that he was walking right up next to the house. Brazen creature!
At that point he decided to walk toward the far end of the yard, and by the "far end" I mean maybe 15-20 feet from the house. It's not a big yard. I had been using my non-existent stealth skills to take the above pictures from inside the house. I decided it was time to carefully go outside and see where he was headed.
I managed to ascertain from a vantage point on the back porch, aided by my
stalwart freaked-out cat, that he was now eating dessert from my raspberry bush.
Oh Hell no! If anybody is going to eat the raspberries, it is going to be me, damn it!
So I went outside onto the back steps, thinking that perhaps he would be startled and run away because a Human was nearby. I mean, he doesn't know that I am likely to go all Snow White, Friend of Forest Creatures, and try to talk to him. I could be a scary hunter with a gun. His self-preservation instincts should kick in and he should flee!
Except he didn't. We kind of ended up in a staring contest.
And once again, I lost. He didn't budge. He just stood there and stared. I cracked, went back inside and got more birdseed, and threw it out onto the lawn to try to get him to come closer. It didn't work. He went right back to the berries.
I went back onto the porch where Jazz-kitty, worried that I was going to be eaten by the strange creature in the yard, had been acting as backup. Eventually he ate his fill and sauntered off, gracefully jumping the fence into the neighbor's yard.
You win this round, deer.
Where he comes from and where he goes remains cloaked in mystery, but I know he will return.