2015-07-11 / Outdoors

Outdoor drama: frolicking fawns

One of the joys of being outdoors during the summer is encountering young animals. Their mystique captivates the minds of everyone, from young to old, outdoor enthusiast to city dweller. Over the years I have had interesting encounters with young minks, raccoons, bear cubs, grouse, and woodcock. But encounters with young deer certainly top the list.

In mid-summer, fawns are still quite small and cute. They are most visible with their mothers early in the morning and in the evening right before dark, during the cooler times of the day.

Just like young children, young animals like to play. On cool evenings fawns can often be seen frolicking in open meadows. They romp and play, chasing each other in large loops. On occasions I have even seen older bucks, which otherwise would never lose their composure, join in on the fun and games.

Deer born too early are subject to snow and cold. Their mothers are not taking in the nutrient levels for nursing that they do when there is more greenery.

Those born too late are not developed in time for winter, lowering their chances of survival. Male fawns born late in the summer are usually very small spikes the following year. As a yearling their body needs to put more energy into development and does not have the surplus for the extravagance of antlers.

It’s also always a treat to bump into young turkeys and grouse. Most turkeys are born in mid- to late-May. However, some can be born as late as mid-July.

In dealing with populations, scientists talk of the bell-shaped curve. This describes birth dates within a given animal population. Most individuals are born on or immediately before or after the median birth date.

There will always be a few fawns that still have their spots in November and a few flocks of chicken-sized turkey poults during the fall turkey season.

As every big-woods trout angler has experienced, summertime fawn encounters are not a relaxing experience. You may be walking through some tall grass along the stream, trying not to step on a rattlesnake, when the grass explodes alongside you.

Your heart skips a beat as you jump in the air and let out a yelp, only to discover a moment later that it was just a fawn.

Even though these encounters can be quite startling, they leave us with a smile on our face and have us looking around to make sure no one else saw our screech and dance.

Return to top