Fawns have been on my mind for the last few days. So, here’s a post about fawns and their mothers.
I live in a suburban area that has become a haven for deer. Controlling the overpopulation is a topic of much discussion and debate. My own feelings about deer are mixed. I guess I have a love/hate relationship with them.
When I walk at certain times of the day, I am not surprised to find a herd of seven to a dozen grazing deer lift their eyes to assess whether my twenty-seven-pound dog and I present a threat. Many of the roads in my subdivision have signs reminding me to watch for deer as I drive. I’ve learned to just stop the car if I see a deer nearing the road because there is not usually just one.
Deer are beautiful creatures. They walk up to a fence, raise their front legs, and glide over as though lifted by an under draft. It is an awe-inspiring sight.
But …. they devastate the plantings in people’s yards. They don’t daintily pick tomatoes off my tomato plants or snow pea off my vines. They eat whole stems and branches. They chew branches off my Japanese maples. Don’t get me started on my Hosta’s!
My dog, Cookie, often sits on the step outside my back door, engaging in her self-assigned task of keeping wildlife at bay. I’ve trained her to leave the birds alone, but she enthusiastically chases squirrels, chipmunks, rabbits, the occasional stray cat, and deer. She has no idea that a deer might weigh five times as much as she does.
I have even seen her try to run in front of a small herd of three deer sailing over the fence in our yard.
“NO! LEAVE IT!!!”
Fortunately, she understands and responds to that command or I might have had trampled Cookie.
Last week, Cookie chased the same doe from our yard three or four times. I was surprised that the deer did not fly on over the next three fences, but stayed in an adjoining yard and kept returning. Then she stayed in our yard, near my big “circle garden” and began a stare down. Before I could order Cookie in the house, she again ran toward the deer and began a standoff around the circle garden. I was not quite sure, at this point, who was chasing whom. I called Cookie in.
The doe continued to stare at us through our patio doors, so I finally closed the drapes. She remained vigilant and flicked her head quickly toward the edge of the drapes any time I peeked.
I was worried about her behavior, thinking she might be sick. (I’ve read about rabid wild animals acting like that. Do deer get rabies?) I finally figured out she must have delivered a fawn in our fenced yard.
I kept the dog inside and was rewarded later in the day with a view of the fawn venturing out of the nursery.
It was a beautiful sight. Fawns are not aggravating creatures that eat my plants. The perk was that Mama travelled to nearby areas to graze. My plants were safe while baby was in the yard.
The challenge was that the temperature was over ninety and I needed to leash the dog and take her out front to do her business.
We left the gate open for a couple days. About three ninety-degree days into this process, I saw no sign of Mama or Bambi so I closed the gate, let out the dog, and started harvesting kale from my circle garden.
Woah! Not a foot from me a loud bleating, mewing kind of sound! The fawn tore out of the garden with Cookie’s nose on it’s flanks. I was shocked. Several quick thoughts simultaneously flashed through my mind. I didn’t know deer made noise (I’m sheltered). Did Cookie, who is actually bigger than the fawn, hurt her?
“NO! LEAVE IT!!!”
She wasn’t happy about having to leave her new friend but into the house she went.
Mama appeared from nowhere, evidently close enough to hear the distress sounds from Bambi. She never entered the yard but put her nose to the fence where baby was hiding behind a holly bush. She wandered off so I guessed the baby was okay.
This launched a new sequence of events that became very stressful to me and to Cookie. Who knew I would get stressed over a fawn, spawn of my plant eaters? The gate was reopened. If I went out with Cookie in the back yard, Mama immediately appeared. She stared from a spot two feet on the other side of the fence. Even Cookie seemed intimidated, which was odd.
I was afraid for Cookie. I was afraid for Bambi. I was tired of walking the dog out twenty times a day.
The stressful process by which we finally got the baby out of the yard and the mother reunited and able to take her baby off to the herd is lengthy. I was glad when life was back to normal. Yet, I missed seeing that doe several times a day – somewhere near but not in my yard!
A baby is born with certain expectations. In the case of a fawn, it should have been born free, not inside a fence. Unexpected. A mother having to stand up for her baby and not sure how to get it where it belongs. She has to protect it differently than she normally would.
It’s strange, maybe, but the story of Mama and Bambi reminded me, in some ways, of Mimi and George. And here I was, the outsider, unsure of how to help, but wanting to help. Hmm.
Or maybe I just wanted a chance to post some of the photos I’ve been taking since practicing with my phone camera.
Here’s another fawn/mother story that hit the local news last night. It happened in a nearby municipality.
A police officer was at the scene of a doe that had been hit by a car. She appeared dead due to abdominal wounds and bleeding, but ended up lifting her head and running to a wooded area. The police officer followed, saw something bloody fall from the mother. He discovered it was a fawn. He discovered a second fawn and found the dead mother. He took the fawns to a nearby vet, lights and sirens in action. The fawns are doing fine. The full article is here if you are interested.