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Deer family appears to accept B.C. man as one of their own

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There is no denying that Robert Conrad has a way with animals.

We watched as he approached horses at the Cheekye Ranch in Squamish, and was able to put them at ease almost instantly. They were not spooked, and appeared to genuinely enjoy his company.

Years earlier, he had a similar bond with horses he worked with in the Okanagan.

“This horse would just fall asleep in my arms, and he would lick my face, and lick my neck, and he would do it for, like, half an hour,” he recalled while sitting on the bank of the river.

“I thought, could I try something like this with the deer?”

For the next two-and-a-half years, beginning in 2018, he spent thousands of hours on Crown land behind his home off Okanagan Lake, sitting still and waiting patiently for deer.

“They would sit like maybe 10 metres away from me, but they got more comfortable with me, and then they would get up and actually come closer to me and then sit right down,” he said.

He told CTV News that he never fed them, and rarely moved. The deer just got closer and closer.

B.C. resident Robert Conrad spent thousands of hours on Crown land developing a unique bond with deer.

“I was able to pet them and got to the point that I could hug them,” he said. “I was able to touch their wet nose, which is amazing. It’s nice, wet and soft.”

Eventually, Conrad was able to groom and run them, he could even take naps by their side.

A young buck enjoyed playfully sparring.

“I would actually put on a life jacket and he would actually play with me so he would put his antlers in, and it would be like a tug-of-war, just like he would do with the other males who were his friends,” Conrad recounted with amazement.

Doe became so comfortable, they would introduce their newborn fawn.

“The mother somehow communicated with the deer that this guy is almost like one of us.”

Many of these encounters were captured in thousands of pictures and video, which Conrad is still sorting through.

He is well aware some people think he’s nuts for spending so much with them. Some of his neighbours became annoyed with it, and starting threatening the deer.

“People treated the deer very terribly. They would throw rocks at them, they would shoot BB and pellets at them,” he said. “If you don't want deer around, then live in Tokyo or New York or Vancouver.”

B.C. resident Robert Conrad spent thousands of hours on Crown land developing a unique bond with deer.

The situation became bad enough that Conrad felt he had to move away. He now lives in Squamish and works in human relations.

“I just felt that for the deer to have some hope of being left alone, that I would have to kind of leave them,” he said, admitting he misses them dearly.

But he hopes he can teach others what he’s learned - that deer are smart, peaceful and very quiet animals.

When he returned to visit a few years later, he was convinced his “deer family” remembered exactly who he was.

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