Finding Daisy deer down at the corn feeder yesterday morning, I decided to grab her brush and amble down the slope to give her a little attention and see if I could help her shed some of her red summer coat. Already, the soft, grayish-brown hair of her winter coat was beginning to emerge, and I knew it would not be long before her heavy winter coat would give her a more burly and robust look. I wondered if this early emergence of winter hair meant a harsh season was on the horizon, and that the rut might arrive earlier than usual. Over the last three weeks, I have felt a certain change in the air, but I have not yet seen gossamer floating in the breeze, which is a definite sign of the coming of fall. And, here in Oklahoma, we have experienced a few cool fronts moving through the last two weeks, and temperatures dropped a good bit, with nighttime lows down into the 50-degree range. However, just when I thought our days in the pool might be over, the heat returned this week and the pool water warmed again. Hopefully, FD and I will be able to squeeze in a couple more relaxing weekends in the pool before closing it up when the leaves begin to fall.
It had been a different kind of summer for Daisy, having lost her babies less than a month after they were born in early June. Normally at this time of year, she would be busy nursing, exercising her fawns and teaching them the ropes of being deer. Instead, she spent her time this summer with a young doe and the doe’s yearling buck. This doe had lost her baby(ies) also. If she still had young fawns with her, the yearling buck would never be allowed to hang out with her. Does run off last-year’s offspring just before giving birth and generally do not allow them back into the fold until the new fawns are four to five months old. I did notice Daisy did not have much patience for the little buck and often saw her hoofing him away from the feeders. The young buck’s mother was also submissive to Daisy, though Daisy occasionally allowed the doe to eat alongside her at the corn feeder. I never understood why sometimes Daisy was receptive and other times she hoofed both the doe and the buck off. As long as I have observed Daisy with other deer, there are still so many things I wonder about and do not yet understand.
The sudden disappearance of Daisy’s little herd last year, and of her fawns of this year, was one of those mysteries of nature I do not understand. It seemed that one moment, we were enjoying the site of Daisy, Heidi and Dancer, and Spirit and Willow grazing in the clover patch outside the kitchen window, and the next moment it was only Daisy – alone. And with the loss of Daisy’s fawns in late June this year, the woodlands have seemed so extremely and unusually quiet. Only Daisy and her doe friend and the little buck have been frequenting the feeders. So, I was completely taken aback one morning in early August, when I saw a nice-sized fawn eating corn that had fallen from the feeder. Quickly, I dashed inside for the camera and, through the zoom lens, I was even more surprised to see that the fawn’s mother was Scarlet – a large doe I had not seen since May of 2014. Scarlet was very pregnant when I last saw her, and I remember wondering if she might have triplets. But she disappeared shortly after that sighting and, after a time, I wondered if whatever predator had taken Daisy’s family may have gotten Scarlet as well. And now, here she was with a beautiful fawn! Ferocious as ever, Scarlet stomped at me and kept her eyes on me the entire time I snapped photos!
While taking the last photograph of Scarlet and her fawn at the corn feeder, I noticed Scarlet kept looking to the north. Shifting my view to the right, I could see there was another deer hanging back in the shadows. Slowly, the doe finally moved towards Scarlet and the fawn. No wonder she was moving so slow, I thought as she finally came into clear view – she was pregnant! Her coat was patchy and ragged-looking, and most of the hair on her face was gone. She looked terrible! And then it hit me like a ton of bricks!! But it just couldn’t be! I zoomed in closer on her face and sure enough, she looked like Daisy. This was Spirit, Daisy’s first fawn! We had not seen her since the day before Valentine’s Day this year and, even though I knew she was old enough and clever enough to survive without Daisy, I worried something had happened to her. But now, here she was, looking just as ragged and unkempt as she had last year when she was pregnant. And just like last year, she would be delivering another late-season fawn. Apparently, Spirit’s cycle puts her well into the second rut season, an indication she may always have August babies instead of the usual late-May and early June fawns that most does have.
I was so enthralled and delighted to see Spirit that I nearly missed photographing the little fawn hoofing at Scarlet. I could not tell if this was play or practicing of some kind of skill, but Scarlet side-stepped and backed off from the raised hoofs. I was surprised at the length of time the fawn was able to stay up on its hind legs. And I remembered too, that when Daisy was just a fawn, she often rose up with hooves to the air at me, and especially at FD. At the time, I wondered if she was already testing her dominance, but now I was not so sure about that. Scarlet was always a force to be dealt with in our woodlands. If she was tolerating this behavior from her fawn, surely it was nothing more than practice or play.
Scarlet and her fawn, and Spirit, showed up together a few more times through mid-August. And now, only Scarlet and her fawn come to feed, though we have seen a single doe a couple of times lately (which might be Spirit), in the dim light of early morning. Likely, Spirit has had her fawns by now, and is keeping them hidden deep in the woods like she did with Willow last year. So, it may be mid-September before we see a new spotted fawn or two roaming around. I am hopeful that Spirit has better luck raising her offspring this year. And I hope the gossamer holds off a few more weeks and the Monarchs are not in a big hurry to move south – and that winter waits for the waning summer and fall to provide Spirit’s late-season fawns with plenty of nice warm days to grow, and play, and flourish…
The flashing white-tail is the one thing I do understand about the Whitetail deer. Various messages are sent via the tail, and fawns instinctively seem to know how to use them. This little fawn isn’t in a particular hurry but decides it’s best to follow mama and is not too sure about this camera person making way down the slope!
© 2015 Day by Day the Farm Girl Way…