It was at the beginning of what would a record drought in Texas 2011 that the fawn saga began. On the last day of school, a White-tailed doe died after what must have been a long struggle to escape when her back leg was hung jumping a neighbor’s fence. Her twin fawns — only weeks old, still nursing — were suddenly left to raise themselves on their wits.
It was an extraordinary survival of one of the most adaptable species in America.
Below is video I shot of the twins soon after we discovered they were indeed foraging entirely on their own, a month after their mother’s death. Not only were they surviving, they were thriving!
Fawn Facts, Do’s and Don’ts:
- DO respectfully observe fawn activities from a distance, unseen if possible. A good set of binoculars (or video camera zoom) certainly helps. They are beautiful creatures to behold!
- If it is known a fawn has been orphaned, place small piles of calf manna (a protein supplement found in feed stores) in known foraging areas to help it meet caloric needs. An orphaned fawn will return to the places its mother went to forage. When it is clear they are doing well, stop supplementing.
- No matter how cute they are, never try to hand-feed a fawn. Deer are wild animals and should remain such. Purposeful habituating to humans (which really are their predators) puts it at risk to predation and — as it becomes a fully-grown adult — a potential danger to humans as well.
- Do not pick up or handle a fawn unless it is in imminent danger (i.e. from dog attack, bedded down in a busy road, etc.). If movement is required, be sure put it back near where you found it in as safe a spot as you can find so that it reunite with the mother.
- The fawn’s only defense for its first few weeks of life is its lack of scent and ability to blend in to its surroundings. The mother will bed a fawn down in a safe place while she rests or forages nearby, to protect it from being discovered by others — even from her own herd.
- Don’t get too attached to your rose bushes if a nursing mother is coming through your yard.