Something to Fawn Over

White-tailed FawnLast evening a doe came out to feed behind our house, followed by her young spotted fawn. We have been seeing mostly single fawns this summer and few twins. I attribute this to a fairly hard winter and very late spring. It seemed the deer were really having a hard time finding food, even as we got into April, and no new growth had begun.

The single fawn seemed very healthy and was learning to eat the things that adult deer eat. I am always amazed at the speed and agility of the little spotted deer. The young are now only perhaps two months old but can follow the mother deer anywhere she decides to go. Deer need to grow up fast and learn a lot of survival instinct in a short time. Fall and winter come rapidly in these parts and the fawn must be able to be an adult by fall as predator pressure begins to intensify.

Mother deer seem to have a formula for raising their fawns. I noticed as I watched the two, that the fawn was allowed a great deal of freedom to wander and explore and to try different food sources. I watched another fawn yesterday that seemed to be entirely alone, its mother nowhere to be seen. I am certain she was close by and probably was keeping watch over the little one. I notice how the young ears and noses already duplicate the attentiveness of the doe, in the ever- present search for danger. Indeed, not all fawns survive their experiment with freedom as is attested by the piles of fawn bones by coyote dens.

For deer as for human parents, it’s a difficult and treacherous learning curve as regards freedom and supervision.

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