Fawn Season

After taking the previous week off to spend time with Emily and Sidney, a niece and nephew from Nebraska, FD and I had a lot of mowing to do yesterday. Just before Em & Sid arrived, the drive shaft on the brush hog mower broke, so mowing in the orchard came to a stop. The pasture on our immediate ten acres grew taller and thicker each day, and a series of rain storms kept me from mowing the yard. So while we were away with Em and Sid fishing Lake Texoma, on the southern border of Oklahoma and Texas, the grass and weeds took over.

While I sat on the mower for five hours yesterday, FD worked in the pecan orchard moving dirt and doing a bit of mowing. At the end of the day, we decided to grab a couple of beers and head to the orchard to look over the work FD had done, and to see if we might catch a glimpse of a pregnant doe we had seen on the game camera on the west end of the property. We had wondered if this doe might be Daisy deer, but we could never get a sharp enough photo of her on the game camera to discern Daisy’s distinctly notched left ear – an injury she suffered fighting off a bobcat that had taken her first buck fawn, little Rowdy. Several times I had seen a doe in that area of the orchard on my morning runs, but I could never get a good view of her before she disappeared in the thick vegetation. Regardless of what doe it was, it appeared she was making the area her nursery, as we had seen footage on the game camera of Ronnie and Emma deer being chased off by a doe. This is normal practice the month before a doe delivers her fawns. She chases off every deer and any mammal she finds threatening within her nursery area. We had observed Daisy deer do this every year for the last five years. When birthing draws near, even a doe’s own fawns from the previous year will be run off for about a month, until the new fawns are old enough to get around well.

Emma grazes in the willow patch, just south of the slough that splits the orchard.
Ronnie stops to groom himself as he tags along with his sister in the willow patch.
Cottonwood tree seeds lay scattered like snow on the ground.
Storm clouds build to the south and east of us. This storm brought high winds and hail to parts of the state last night.

The evening was hot and humid, and I often wondered how Emma and Ronnie managed in the heat, not to mention how they dealt with insects and parasites this time of year. As we drove the electric buggy to the west, we found Emma and Ronnie nibbling greens in the pecan orchard. They stayed behind in the shaded willow patch, just south of the slough that splits the orchard. Likely, they did not wish to follow us west where the sun would beat down upon them in the more open area of the pasture that lies between the orchard and the old river channel. Clouds were building to the south and east, and  it was now evident that a line of storms was setting up. There were violent storms forecast for that area of the state and big, fluffy “thunderhead” clouds were stacking up high in the sky. As we headed toward the old river channel, we came across fluff of a different kind lying all over the ground in tufts. Here, cottonwood trees were shedding their seeds, leaving a snowy appearance to the landscape.

Frequently, our trips to the west end of the property include bringing along a clean SD card for the game camera we have set in that area. And, with fawn season now upon us, we wanted to see what animal activity had been taking place over the past week. We entered the woodland near the old river channel and drove slowly into the thick vegetation, griping about the mosquitoes as they began their relentless attack. Not even the herbal insect spray or essential oils I was using kept these biting insects at bay. As FD and I swatted and moved forth into the darkness of the deeper woods, we spotted something move across the path in front of us. FD stopped the buggy immediately. I thought it was a fox, but FD thought it might be a fawn. I grabbed my camera and we slowly walked the to the place where we had seen the animal move.

Sure enough, it was a fawn. Still wobbly on its legs, it could not have been more than a day or two old. At this age, the best defense a fawn has against a predator is to stay still. The fawn had moved just off the pathway and stood still in the cat brier and weeds. Eventually, it very slowly moved its head so that it could get a better look at us, but it did not blink and I could not even see it breathing. I was able to take several photos though, in the darkness of the thick woods, I was not sure they would turn out well. Fortunately, I had also brought my cell phone along and managed to get some video which turned out very well in the dark conditions. After getting a few photos and video, FD quietly walked to the game camera to switch out the SD card while I eased back to the buggy. We did not wish to stress the fawn by staying too long, and FD and I were both sure the mother would be nearby and possibly another sibling could be bedded down in the area, so we backed the buggy out of the thicker woods and decided to drive only on the visible pathways. With fawns on the ground now, there would be no more driving through or mowing tall weeds. For the next month, we would be more cautious about where we tread in any tall grasses in the orchard. Fawn season is upon us.

But even the delight of seeing this sweet breath of new life, of course, did not keep me from going home with a bit of a heavy heart. Yes, the old river channel was now a nursery to the gentle fawn, but is was also the area where we often saw coyotes. The game camera on the west end continued to show footage of coyotes roaming through every week or so, mostly at night. To me, this was probably not the best area to have a fawn, but a doe also monitors the activity in a prospective nursing area several weeks before she gives birth. So I have to trust nature and try not to think about the articles I have read about predation rates during fawn season. And I have to remember that, in nature, this is the cycle of life… and death.  I hope this little fawn lives. And I hope that Daisy is doing well, wherever she is. She was always on schedule to deliver her twins each year at the end of May or very early June. I will be thinking of her a lot these next days and weeks. And you can bet I will be doing regular patrol on the west end, battling the mosquitoes in hopes of seeing my girl…

© 2017 Day by Day the Farm Girl Way…

 


26 thoughts on “Fawn Season

  1. Great post. The video was icing on the cake! Our fawn season is underway too. I’ve seen a couple on their feet with mom and hearing stories from farmers (good and bad). Would love to find one in a woodlot, resting in dappled sunlight.

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    1. Thanks, Nick! We found Daisy in “dappled sunlight”, and was she ever difficult to locate when we went back with the camera later. It’s amazing how camouflaged they are with those spots in dappled sunlight. I hope you do get your photo moment with a fawn. 🙂

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    1. I miss Daisy a lot, Kim. I try to remind myself that it is very good that she is living in the wild now, and that was our desire for her when we first took her in. But I do miss stroking her hair and her grooming me with licks. There’s just something about the touch connection. Thank you for traveling this journey with me, dear friend. Your support over the years has meant so much.

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    1. Thanks, Nathan. Emma and Ronnie seem to enjoy the orchard area. While I work loading limbs and branches, they graze nearby and bed down to chew their cud. It’s a wonderful thing to have them close by.

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  2. These photographs are really good. I have looked at them a number of times, and will return again. Your descriptions too–they fill out the experience. Another very pleasant and memorable visit!

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    1. Hello Margaret! Oscar is doing well. He adores Mr. T and they play together several times a day. Oscar has been good for Mr. T too. He seems to enjoy the company of a little brother. 🙂

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  3. Always in awe of pictures of small fawns in their woods. The little things hardly look like they could be real. Magical creatures. Life is so fragile. (Apologizes for slow visits and responding to comment – simply had to step back a bit- a bit disheartened about the viciousness of people. Cleaning pastures – even fighting mosquitoes sounds good, but doing small projects around here will have to do)

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    1. The little fawn was new – still wobbly on its legs. What sweet creatures they are… so innocent. I completely understand pulling back – these are strange times. We are seeing the worst of some folks. I have stepped back too since the election. Right now though, I’m inundated with work. Summer is like that for me and I flourish with it. I love being busy. And the best part is Emma and Ronnie showing up to tag along. Buddy and Punkin squirrels have been stopping by too. And my vulture friends have been circling high above, reminding me to “glide and soar” and to leave my carcass of worries and troubles behind. 🙂

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  4. Just found your blog, and I love it. My husband and I moved to a “rural” area 12 years ago so a lot of what you are writing is so familiar to me. I wonder if you know the answer to this: we have a lot of deer around here, and fawn season is upon us too. One of our does apparently has lost her fawn. Her udder appears to be full of milk since she is not nursing. Do you know what will happen to her? She looks so uncomfortable and I wonder if her body will “absorb” the milk or if she’ll just keep getting worse.

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    1. Welcome, Ellen! The doe you mentioned may have another fawn that she is feeding nearby. If she had twins and only one remains to feed, the udder will go down in size a bit. If she is not feeding fawns at all, the udder will eventually shrink, just like it would if she were weaning her fawns (about 3 months of age). We have found that does will look for their babies up to a week and a half.

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