The Fawn Who Walks With People (Tacicala Tuwe Mani Kici Oyate – Lakota Sioux)

The weather was bitter cold the day after Tukker’s release, but the sun shone brightly and a mild breeze from the south brought hope of a better day. FD and I were up early, with plans to take Tukker on another hike to the west end of the property and cover more of the orchard, slough, and old river channel areas. However, as I stepped outdoors with our little dogs that morning just before sunrise, Tukker was nowhere to be found. When the dogs were finished with their business, I came back inside to crack a few large acorns and prepare some root vegetables for Tukker to eat, just as I have done for the past several months. With the arrival of spring just around the corner, he would soon have plenty of plants, leaf shoots, and wild vine to graze on, and he would no longer be interested in my offerings. I stepped outside again to do chicken chores just as the sun made its grand appearance, and there was Tukker in front of the house, with frozen hair and icicles hanging from his belly and down his legs. Apparently, he remembered the fun he had in the slough the day before and had gone for a dip!

I hurried to finish chicken chores while Tukker ate his raw vegetables and sniffed out the acorns I had tossed around an oak tree in the front yard. FD came outside while I dashed in to grab my camera and a pair of finger-less gloves that have flip covers which form mittens when dexterity is not required, but warmth is. Usually, it is my nature to be inside in the warmth of the house until mid-morning before setting off for outdoor work. But It was important to me that Tukker become more in sync with the habits of his species, and I know the deer around our place are very nocturnal but can sometimes be observed still grazing in the early morning hours shortly after sunup. So, off we went in our woolly, warm clothes, while Tukker led the way down the path to the orchard. Just as he had the day before, Tukker kept alert but with his nose to the ground, stopping to investigate and lick taller plants or nibble on something along the way. He often looked back to make sure we were still with him.

It was a frosty morning as we started the walk into the pecan orchard.
Tukker kept his nose to the ground almost every step of the way. Either there was something interesting to sniff, or some edible to graze on.
Rye grass is beginning to grow in the pasture area of the orchard. Tukker did a lot of nibbling in this area.

Before we reached the woods of the old river channel west of the orchard, Tukker managed to discover a large patch of rye grass where he stopped for a long while to feast on this new delight. FD and I were just approaching him after lagging behind a bit, when motion in the distance, just over the dike around the old river channel, stopped us in our tracks. Slowly, I moved my camera up to my face, holding the zoom lens with my left hand and bracing my elbow against my chest to steady my camera. With my right index finger at the ready on the shutter button, FD and I stood motionless as we watched the meeting unfold in front of us.

FD and I spotted these two fawns coming up and over the old river channel dike. We stood very still, not wanting to spook them!
At this point, Tukker did not notice his kind. He was faced the opposite direction, grazing on rye grass.
Mama doe joins her doe and buck fawns on the dike. FD and I are elated at this meeting and cannot believe our good fortune!
Tukker notices the wild deer and is on high alert. With tail flared, he stomps towards the intruders.
With the wild buck fawn in the lead, the two curious fawns head towards Tukker.
Mama watches while stomping her alert of danger, as the buck fawn approaches Tukker.
Slowly, the two buck fawns approach each other.
With ears back, the wild buck stares Tukker down, while Tukker catches scent of the buck.
This is enough for Tukker, and his anxiety brings him running back to his human parents!
Tukker stops as he approaches us. He’s still curious about these intruders. Mama doe and the doe fawn watch just as curiously as FD and I do!
Both buck fawns seem interested in trying to meet again.
FD and I were down wind of the deer family, and felt fortunate to be able to witness this meeting at only ten yards away from Tukker and the wild buck fawn.
Tukker is being very careful in his approach. The wild buck fawn has hair fluffed out and is staring Tukker down. He’s taking an aggressive stance.
Tukker anxiously moves forward while the wild buck fawn continues to stare.
Tukker is careful as he approaches. The wild buck fawn is now taking a very aggressive stance – ears back, staring and beginning to “shoulder in” towards Tukker.
My shots of Tukker running back to us this second time were blurry, but he was definitely not allowing the buck fawn any closer. His instinct was spot on for his first encounter. FD and I were both amazed at how aggressive a buck fawn could be! We would be learning even more about Tukker’s world and how a lone buck fawn might have difficulty integrating into the local herd.
By this time, Mama doe had watched enough of this strange meeting with The Fawn Who Walks With People. She began stomping away from the scene, huffing her alert continually in an attempt to get her fawns to follow her.
Mama is still huffing continually and, like most youngsters, her fawns did not mind her. They were still curious about Tukker and his human companions.
Once Tukker ran from the buck fawn, he stayed a distance from us as well, resuming his “nose to the ground” grazing on the fresh rye grass as if nothing had just happened.
Tukker seemed aware of the audience and the Mama doe huffing and stomping, but he did not react. Instead, he seemed to be sniffing the area where the unfriendly encounter had taken place.
Even after the buck fawn finally followed his mother and sibling back to the old river channel, he kept watch of Tukker and the humans who walked quietly with him.
Tukker sniffs the area where the Mama deer stomped and huffed. I always wonder about scent and how much is determined when investigating an area.

After the encounter with the mama doe and her fawns, FD and I continued our walk with Tukker all the way to the end of our property fence. Beyond to the west is our leased property along the nearby river. Deer frequently cross the wheat pastures in this area and, while we were on the lower river bottom section of this region, we saw more than twenty deer (does, fawns and yearlings) cross from the old river channel, heading west across the field. FD and I had never seen this many deer together at one time on our property or the leased land to the west. Evidently, the population kept itself well hidden in the tall grasses, wild brush, and tangles that thrive in the river bottom.

Witnessing Tukker’s encounter with the wild buck fawn, and seeing all the other deer on the property this morning, brought a good feeling. It was comforting to know Tukker would have many more opportunities for experiences with his own kind. And someday, The Fawn Who Walks With People will fearlessly roam this river bottom country – and beyond…

Tukker resumed his walk to the west end of our property, often turning back to make sure his humans were nearby.
The area west of the point where Tukker stands is a vast wheat field, and beyond that is the nearby river.

© 2020 Day by Day the Farm Girl Way…


49 thoughts on “The Fawn Who Walks With People (Tacicala Tuwe Mani Kici Oyate – Lakota Sioux)

    1. Thank you, Paulette. Usually, Tukker is looking at us to make sure we’re still nearby. He never keeps a pose very long which is typical of wildlife. Sometimes it can be very frustrating for the photographer! Bitter cold temperatures make for a more sluggish camera too!

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  1. What a fortuitous meeting! Fascinating. I can’t help but notice how handsome Tukker is, and his coat is in such good shape compared to his wild counterpart. Must be his good upbringing 🙂 I’m so glad to get to join you on these walks to reintroduce Tukker to his wild habitat and herd. I hope they are nice to him 💕

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    1. I hope they aren’t too hard on Tukker, but we watched Daisy get hoofed and run off for several months before local matriarch doe Scarlett allowed her in as a babysitter for her babies. I had to laugh because that was my first job as I ventured out more as a pre-teen. I’m sure Tukker will have to take the usual knocks that any intruder has to take. Tukker has different genetics. He and Emma deer (from 2016) are from nearly the same region and their markings are similar. Ronnie was a handsome buck from yet another region and we noticed his hair was quite different than any deer we’d seen. He had hidden corkscrew hair – almost appeared to be an undercoat of sorts! So I believe genetics are varied from region to region. It will actually be good if Tukker is able to breed with the local herd and bring some of his fine traits to offspring!

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  2. How incredible to be able to witness this! I have many trail cams set out over several properties to watch the goings-on of the wild things, but to be there first hand is a gift! Thanks for bringing this to us.

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    1. Wendy, we keep many trail cams set up so that we can keep an eye on wildlife, and know what species are moving through an area. FD and I still cannot believe we were present for such a fascinating meeting between Tukker and a few local deer. We were very surprised at how it all played out. We’re always learning!

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    1. Lisa, I have a feeling we will be on many adventures in the coming weeks. 🙂 He sure is a sweet boy… I hope the spring season arrives fairly soon. He seems to be a very good forager, and his instincts as a buck are spot on.

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  3. Just breathtakingly delightful. Tucker is so handsome with his tail all white and flared as he moves forward.
    How like humans the fawns ignoring mom’s huffing and stomping. They are all growing up, but still running back to security.
    How lucky to be downwind and be able to watch.
    Made my day

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    1. Oh, this encounter made our day too!! We could not believe our good fortune. There was so much to take in, but mostly we were curious at how Tukker would make out with this other buck fawn. Mama’s huffing and stomping was quite predictable, but it was interesting to note those kids of hers paid no attention. Ha ha! That little buck watched us from afar for a very long time. FD and I both felt elated to be able to observe this first meeting. Sometimes I wonder if this doe was familiar with us, since we are out and about on the pecan orchard property a good bit. Deer don’t always flee when we come through, but instead are more watchful from a distance.

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  4. I like how he wanted to be with his humans – that warms my heart. I’d have been a Nervous Nellie watching the encounter and would have wanted to run over and grab him and bring him back. I am glad Tukker is a little assertive but wary as well.

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    1. You make an important point! It is very difficult to allow some encounters to unfold. Our first doe fawn, Daisy, took a lot of hoofings from the local herd. The mama’s ran her off, and even their offspring were not friendly. It took months of continual tagging along behind other deer before they accepted her. That was difficult for me to watch. Years later, Daisy proved herself as the dominant doe in this area – I saw her go to battle (hoofing face to face standing on hind legs) with does that used to hoof her off when she was little.I can tell you I was one proud mama seeing that unfold!

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      1. That is incredible – I just started following your blog recently, so did not know the other stories and a friend (Susie Shy) recommended me to follow you since I am a nature and animal lover. It would be the same as seeing your child in a little playground battle (not a knock-down-and-drag-out kind of battle but just a little bit of fists flying). You are always going to be just as protective of those fur kids, no matter how big they are. I meant to mention yesterday that I was amazed the size of the Tukker’s tail when it was flared out … that was amazing.

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        1. I will have to post photos from this morning (if they turned out). Tukker and I had set out early for a walk, and FD joined us about thirty minutes later. Tukker saw FD from a long distance, and as FD neared Tukker went into high alert mode, stomping. Finally, his tail went up, flared and he took off running away! His whole rear end was a beautiful white, all flared out, as he took off leaping and bounding away! It was a sight to behold!

          I’m so happy to have you on board, Linda! Your comments are appreciated! 🙂

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          1. You are welcome and I’m enjoying Tukker’s adventures. I have been off here all day – I will look forward to seeing those pictures – I’ve not been to Reader yet. I have seen pictures of a deer raising its tail a little as it runs, but not the flaring. That was an amazing sight. I don’t see many deer here in my part of SE Michigan, but the northern suburbs have a lot of deer and it is not unusual to see them walking along a city street sometimes. I was told to go to Grosse Ile, a nearby small island about 15 miles from where I live and which is inhabited by deer, and I went to the woods and saw nothing, but driving there two big bucks crossed the road in front of me. Of course, the camera was in the back seat, but the image is still in my mind.

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  5. I was fascinated as I read your comments about the encounter with the native deer. The photos of the encounters are priceless and I think it really gives just about a complete perspective of how a wild animal mixes and mingles within a given area. I have often wondered if deer form groups or if they mostly go it alone. I am thinking that if they remained in groups they would have a better chance of defending themselves against predators. Tucker’s tail flaring is such a good shot and these are excellent recordings of this eventful day. All in all I think you and FD were incredibly lucky to witness the interactions of the deer.

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    1. Thank you, Yvonne. We learn so much through these observations. FD is a hunter, and was able to explain the “shouldering in” aspect of the wild buck fawn’s aggressive stance. I did not see that so much as I was concentrating on getting the camera focused. It’s often difficult being the photographer as one misses out on some of the observations. When I go back to view the images I’m able to see things I missed during the shoot. Even blurry photos sometimes fill in the segments of what happened – and of course the images create a timeline of the event. All in all, FD and I felt very fortunate to watch the meeting unfold.

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      1. My husband was deer hunter, water foul hunter and doves too. I always hated that he shot the wildlings and it was very difficult to cook the things that he killed. About the last 10 years before my husband died, I refused to cook any of the game. So he either gave it away or ate with friends who were on the receiving end of the bounty from his hunting trips.

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    1. We sure were fortunate! If I was a more patient person, FD has a few tree stands set up on the property where I could sit for a day and watch wildlife passing by, and I might see a lot of action. But sitting for more than fifteen minutes seems like an eternity. I have much yet to learn… I wonder if I’ll ever be patient.

      I think of Dances with Wolves often. For the last couple of months while Tukker was in his pen, he often challenged me by raising up on his hind legs. I would put an arm out to keep him from clubbing me, and we’d go round and round like dancers. I could be called, “Dances with Deer”. Now that he has all of this space to roam he doesn’t offer to dance with me as often!

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  6. The natural world seems so very harsh for the leaving childhood/ becoming adult male of the species – here’s hoping Tukker finds his ‘Flower, Thumper and Falina’ for his pack – Yes, I cried when I saw Bambi – both times – age 4 and aged 20 :D. I know it is how it is, but still, hold hope in my heart he finds his way without too many battle scars/injuries – 😀

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    1. Aw, I have the same worries and hopes. Tukker’s been coming home daily with clobber marks and fresh scrapes and hair missing on his back from jumping through barbed-wire fencing. He’s taking a beating just like we saw Daisy deer endure. On a good note, we see him on game camera with a yearling buck most nights, feeding down below the slope. That yearling has followed Tukker up top here too, to feast on a clover patch just outside the kitchen window – so he is fitting in and finding a place with the locals. I think it might be easier on a little buck to venture out on his own than it is a doe fawn. But of course during the rut, the life of a buck is difficult.I try not to think about it too much. It’s so much harder when you’re the deer mama.

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    1. Thank you, Sheryl! We certainly got lucky that morning. It makes me wonder if the mama doe is a local deer who is used to us, but wary, as they normally would be. Mother’s bring their fawns to our feeders all summer and into winter. We offer nutritional feed and water all year long.

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  7. Great story, i would have loved to be around to see such an incredible encounter in the wild among these beautiful animals. I only hope that a lot of hunters ( I refer to them as natures KILLERS ) would read this blog and have some change of heart when it comes to hunting natures greatest beauties in the wild. Please take very good care of Tucker.

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    1. Thank you so much – I’m glad you enjoyed the story. Tukker is making his way out there in the wild. He takes off for the woods and beyond to the river at night, but comes back each morning to bed down and rest. I hope that he hangs around this summer, but I’m sure he will take off come the rut time in the fall.

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  8. Wonderful observations, Lori. Interesting to see Iittle Tukker’s reaction to the wild deer and being introduced to the ways of the wild in small steps. So like a hesitant child not quite ready to cut the apron strings yet, but curious. It will be interesting to see how his confidence grows.

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    1. You said that all so well, Liz. We learn so much about the deer during this time of Tukker setting out on his own. We have raised a doe fawn, and then in 2016 a buck and a doe fawn together. This is the first time we’ve a lone buck. All of these releases have taught us more about fawns than the last experience… we’re always learning. I thought that Tukker would be more independent, since we gave him much less attention than we have given any of the others, yet he seems to enjoy hanging around the property and still beds down in spots near our house. The good thing is he’s ready to take off without notice in the evenings – he sets off to find his kind off towards the river. It’s all good!

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  9. What lovely fun! The only thing that could have been better would be to have been there. But, all your lovely photographs were perfect. You and FD lead an amazing life. ❤

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  10. Hi Lori, I read your post about the process of Tukker’s soft release and his first encounter with wild deer with great interest. It is indeed a great privilege to be a part of this young deer’s life before he finally cuts his ties with you.

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    1. Hello, Margaret! We felt very fortunate to have had this outing and photography opportunity with Tukker and local wild deer. I will say it was physically draining to stand all of that time holding my camera, not smiling or blinking, and unable to communicate with FD. Still, it was amazing, and we learned a lot about Tukker’s reaction to meeting his kind and how he handled aggressive moves by the young buck fawn. I did get tickled with the Mama deer’s continual huffing and stomping and how her kids paid no attention! This doesn’t seem so different than what we see with humans!

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    1. Thank you, Jeffrey. I am so happy you enjoyed the post. I love that we feel so connected with wild animals. There are some powerful, yet gentle characteristics of deer. It is a good spirit animal to have as a guide.

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  11. When I got to the photo of Tukker turning tail and coming back toward you after the first encounter, I laughed. Between your narrative and the photos, it was like being there, and it was completely enjoyable. How lucky you were to be downwind, and so close. I’d say Tukker’s first experience of his kind was a good one, and his instincts were spot on: be curious, but not too curious! It’s good to see the rye grass growing, and to know that he can find his way to the water and back!

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    1. I think Tukker running back to us wide-eyed and tail flared is one of my favorite photos! Ha ha! I never know what I get when I’m out shooting “of the moment” shots like that. It’s especially frustrating having to wear progressive lenses now AND having mono vision! There were some good opportunities for photographs and FD and I just couldn’t believe all of this was happening with us present. It was just amazing.

      We are watching Tukker’s night activity via game cameras when he’s near one. He’s been hanging with other young bucks. He’s been taking his knocks – hair missing in places with bruising present, but at least he’s trying to get in. He takes off every evening between 5:00 and 6:00. He returns here by 7:00 to 10:00 in the mornings. He’s settling into the nocturnal ways of the deer, and bedding down in tall grasses in our neighbor’s woolly yard during the days. All is well…

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        1. We are very happy at how he’s doing. This morning he came home with a huge strip of hair missing on his back. I wish I could show him that he needs to jump over instead of going through fences 🙄. These are the hard knocks of growing up – we all have to go through it!!

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          1. Yeh, well… He’s not the only one who had to learn to stop going through fences when he started roaming the country. I don’t jump so well, but I finally learned that around or under works pretty well.

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  12. New to your blog but will have to go back to the beginning of Tukker’s and your tale. This episode was fascinating and the images you shared part of a grand experience. I admire your work raising him and that you are doing your best to prepare him for independence.

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    1. Hello Steve! My journey with rehabilitating orphaned fawns began in 2011 when we raised a doe fawn named Daisy. She stayed in our area raising several sets of twins until 2016 when we took in an orphaned buck and a doe fawns, Emma and Ronnie. They stayed around for almost two years before moving on during the rutting season. As far as we know, all of our fawns have gone on to live life in the wild. We also have one orphaned squirrel who still returns to visit on rainy days, named Punkin. She is 5 1/2 years old now and has several litters of young. It’s a wonderful thing to know something raised by humans can survive in the wild. I hope you enjoy my stories. It’s a very special life experience to connect with the wild things.

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