The Minds Behind the Miami Deer Cam

Written By: Morgan Schneider

Jacob Kramer was living near Kramer Elementary on Sycamore Street when he had an idea. Since his house was further away from Miami’s campus, white-tailed deer would frequently run around in the street and yard. He’d seen them around campus often, thought they were beautiful, and took photos of the deer from time to time.

Jacob Kramer

So, why not start an Instagram for all of them?

Jacob started the Instagram account @miamideercam in May of 2020. He used his own photos and videos for the first few posts. A couple submissions eventually came through during the summer, mostly from friends. But once students got back to campus that fall, things really started to pick up.

“I just started following my close friends and whatnot, and then…the Miami Apiary Society, and some of the other student orgs with this account…and it’s kinda grown since then,” says Jacob. Today, the account has over 400 followers–but it changed hands some time ago.

Jacob graduated in the spring of 2021 with a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering. Unable to run the account after he left, he posted that he was looking for someone to take over for him. He found not one, but two students up for the challenge.

Eleanor Prytherch and Camryn McClelland reached out individually.

Camryn McClelland
Eleanor Prytherch

“We were both interested, so we both DM’d him separately and [said], me and my friend are interested,” says Eleanor. “I think the only application thing was like, what’s a fun deer fact that you know?”

The two were freshmen at this point, who met during the first couple weeks of school “just hanging out in the same friend group”. Now, they’re both juniors. Eleanor is an English and creative writing major from Oxford, while Camryn grew up near Clearwater, Florida, and studied zoology and sustainability. Jacob is delighted they’ve kept up the work.

“I’m happy to see that it’s still continuing, and that the handoff worked well,” says Jacob.

Nowadays, the account receives a couple of photos every few days. It’s enough material that the two try to post daily–a lull in activity would mean a lull in submissions. Both friends have the username and password for the account, which means one can take over if the other needs a break.

“I’ve been super busy this semester, so Camryn has been posting for the most part,” says Eleanor. “It’s not super organized, it’s just kind of whoever gets to it.”

While they post every submission they receive, Camryn says there are a couple that have given them pause. 

“The only thing I am a little bit sketchy about posting is people feeding them, because I know that’s not good for them,” says Camryn. “As someone who’s trying to go into conservation and wildlife, [it’s] against my better judgment, but at the same time….it’s just a deer on a college campus.” 

On the flip side, everyone has their favorite photos. Eleanor always loves the ones with fawns. Camryn’s is a shadow with glowing eyes with the caption, “can’t confirm this is a deer, but here it is.” And Jacob’s is one of a buck in front of the Conrad Formal Gardens, behind East Quad.

When asked why the Miami community loves its deer so much, each had a different theory.

“They’re very big animals to have wandering around, like where people live,” says Eleanor, “and they’re just part of the character.”

“The majority of animals that we see are solitary, and deer…live in herds sometimes,” says Camryn. “It’s a different kind of animal, I guess, than what we’re used to seeing.”

“It’s something simple, and that every student has interacted with at least once,” says Jacob. “They’re an ever-present wildlife on campus.”

Even if people aren’t interested in deer, there are plenty of other Instagram accounts dedicated to documenting Miami’s wildlife. Camryn started @thebirdsofmu after joining the birding club, @muaudubonsociety. The school’s apiculture club, @miamibees, posts photos from hive inspections. And for animal lovers in general, the Zoology and Biology Club posts meeting updates and plans at @muzoobioclub.

When the time comes, Eleanor and Camryn will pass the account on to someone else, to continue the tradition. In the meantime, the two will keep posting, showcasing the deer of Miami and Oxford to the world.

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