Wednesday, June 05, 2013
How a spoiled deer became the most popular iReport of all time

One of the cutest videos of all time on CNN iReport is now the most viewed iReport ever, as a feisty debate continues about whether it’s really a good idea to invite a wild deer into your kitchen and feed it a baby bottle.

As of Monday, Amy Carrickhoff’s November 2010 video “Spoiled deer getting her bottle” was viewed more than 792,000 times and shared 9,600 times, displacing a popular essay by an atheist mom about raising children without God.

The video is heartwarming with a dash of absurd. Carrickhoff stands outside her house in Oakridge, North Carolina, calling for a deer she has christened "Little Girl." The deer comes out of the woods and jumps on Carrickhoff like a dog wanting to be petted. She scampers up the driveway and follows Carrickhoff into the house, where she then sucks down a baby bottle of goat's milk. When the milk is gone, Carrickhoff dabs the deer's mouth with a tissue.

One of our producers initially spotted the video on YouTube in 2010 and encouraged Carrickhoff to upload to our site. The video was popular with readers from the start, but more than two years later, the iReport resurfaced on several hunting sites and took off anew this past January.

While some animal lovers were touched by the obvious bond Carrickhoff had with the deer, hunters and wildlife rehabilitators felt she wasn't doing the doe any favors. They said she was allowing the deer to get too comfortable around humans and could have been hit by a car, been shot by a hunter, or hurt someone.

“You just gave this animal a DEATH SENTENCE - you also have put all your neighbors and their children at risk of being attacked where this deer matures and when she doesn’t get fed, she attacks someone,” one reader wrote, one of about 250 comments on the iReport.

We recently caught up with Carrickhoff (username deermommy2), a ticket agent for United Airlines, and asked her a few questions about her viral iReport.

Carrickhoff's first comment was that if she had known the video would get so many views she would have changed out of her gym clothes. As for the deer, sadly, the update isn't a happy one.

Little Girl continued coming back for bottles until around January 2011, when she moved onto regular deer food, Carrickhoff said. The size she is in the video is as large as she ever got. Carrickhoff last saw Little Girl in October of that year. Something just seemed wrong, she remembered. Carrickhoff watched as the deer appeared to have a seizure.

“She walked off into the woods and we never saw her again,” she said. “We combed those woods … we never found anything.”

Looking back, Carrickhoff said getting to know the deer was a special experience that she doesn’t regret.

Friends had brought Little Girl -- apparently orphaned as a baby -- to Carrickhoff's home because the woods in their backyard were protected, and the deer would be safe from hunters. School children loved visiting the gentle creature who would lick them with her soft tongue and didn't mind being petted.

Carrickhoff is confident that she didn't overly domesticate the animal. Even when Little Girl was bottle-fed, she lived in the woods and did “deer things,” Carrickhoff’s daughter said. The deer gave birth to a baby of her own the following June, and toward the end, she wouldn’t come when she was called. She was becoming wild again.

She and her husband got so attached to Little Girl that they don’t ever want to take care of another animal.

“I just watch the videos and she kind of lives on,” she said.

Curious about the other most-viewed iReports of all time? You can check them out here.

June 5, 2013
Click to view postman555's profile

First time I saw This Cute

June 5, 2013
Click to view Wildlifehelp's profile

I appreciate the well meaning compassion of Ms. Carrickhoff. Unfortunately many of the deer in similar videos display "friendly" behavior and abnormal gait that may indicate a fatal, contagious and incurable deer neurological disease, CWD or Chronic Wasting Disease. It can takes months or years to cause death. Rat and gopher baits can also kill other pets and wildlife. It is unlikely that Little Girl was actually orphaned but was found when mom was out of sight. (Orphaned deer are usually found with many ear ticks which a mom, if present, would have nibbled off.) I am not a deer specialist but am a licensed wildlife rehabilitator and my facility often receives birds and animals that the public describes as friendly. We immediately know grave injury, poisoning or disease may be to blame. Most states ban unlicensed care of wildlife partly out of concern for public safety and the health of the animal. The government does not pay their licensees to care for any wildlife - it is completely voluntary and there are few of us. The public often has to do the best they can on their own. I'd hoped this story would have had a happier ending and hope her offspring survived. 

June 5, 2013
Click to view trentroy's profile

It's sad she was lost. I hope her young live long, happy lives. Kinda sounds like she may have had a neurological disease, perhaps her mom knew that and abandoned her, it happens.

June 9, 2013
Click to view revloc's profile

I always thought Chris Morrow had the most viewed iReport ?

June 12, 2013
Click to view Logan248's profile

Vry nice video. I see nothing wrong with what she did. Goes on at petting zoos all the time.

June 12, 2013
Click to view IHL247's profile

So nice

June 14, 2013
Click to view dlong77's profile


June 15, 2013
Click to view LTWeezie's profile

Kind and caring people taking care of anoher sentient living creature...NOTHING wrong with that, and if you think there IS, there is something wrong with you! 

June 15, 2013

A few weeks ago I was spraying cactus along a fenceline on my farm and I came a across a fawn, having a leg caught in the wire. I was concerned it was abandoned by it's mother and picked it up, trying to figure out how to save this animal. I carried it back in my 4-wheel drive Kubota RTV to my home, got on-line looking for formula and saw there was no way it was possible for me on a holiday to get goat milk.


I immediately took the fawn back to where I found it and I mimicked the sound I heard the fawn make, except my voice was much louder than the fawn's... About 5 minutes later, mamma comes running up, stops about 50 feet away, I leave and I suppose they "lived happily ever after..."


Wild animals are best in the wild... There are way too many videos on YouTube of deer attacking humans, and the deer "scores more points" each time. I'd rather not have a deer coming up to my backyard killing my dogs, or worse, me.


I'm delighted the fawn was reunited with it's mother and that I was able to free it's leg from the wire. It would have died a terrible death there.

June 26, 2013
Click to view Justinguru's profile

really nice! this is the first time I see such situation

July 9, 2013
Click to view D.N.E's profile

Very well. Nature must be brought closer to humanity again.

November 12, 2013
Click to view Shawnda15's profile

I hope that the poor lost deer finds it's way. It is so heartbreaking that she is lost. I hope that she finds her mother. So sad... I would love to take her if I was allowed! :(


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