Do you remember the motherless fawn? It arrived alone one day in mid-November, spent time with a buck after the rut ended, and left with a flood of deer on their way to their winter feeding grounds. I hoped she would leave with the others. With coyotes and bobcats in the area I knew a lone fawn didn’t stay much chance of surviving the winter.

I’ve been watching for her since I put the game cameras out last week. It didn’t take long. She’s back – though I think she’s a he. I think the now yearling deer is a buck. There seems to be pedicles, the bases of antlers. This changes the way I feel about this deer. I’ve gone from protective and motherly to “if he stays around he might be meat in the freezer.” We can’t harvest does because our deer population is low. Our winters are harsh and we have a lot of bobcats that take down deer year round. The food plot is here to feed the deer and give them as much of a boost into winter as possible, and we’d like to harvest one deer from our land each year. One deer and one bear would go a long way to filling the meat freeze.

This raises a question for a lot of people. How on earth could I shoot a deer I’ve been watching since it was a baby? First, yes, I could shoot the deer. Second, this isn’t that much different in my mind than the piglets, calves, chicks, poults and ducklings that come to the homestead and are raised to be killed and eaten. The main difference is that this deer is free to come and go as it pleases. It might leave an hour before the hunting season opened. This is a first for us. We don’t know how long or often deer will return to the food plot they frequented in spring and fall starting at birth. This is a learning experience.

For now, the motherless fawn has returned and is here to eat. If it is a buck it might be driven away by older bucks. Or not. Time will tell.

There’s another deer update coming soon.