Motherless

She showed up alone one night. I didn’t think much of it because does and fawns don’t stay close together all the time. Her mother was simply in another part of the food plot or out by the pond I imagined. It was November and there weren’t a lot of deer in the plot. A doe with twins came to the plot one day, just one day. She had bobcat scratches from her nose down the side of her face, across her neck and along her right side. The wounds didn’t look fresh or infected in the game camera pictures but maybe they were. I had to zoom all the way in to see them. Maybe she’s the mother of the motherless doe fawn we’ve been watching for the last six weeks. She’s alone, no sibling, so maybe not.

She always shows up alone, and she’s here most often during daylight. I can watch her from the kitchen window when she’s in the food plot. She usually goes to the apple tree on the bank of the pond first, and then into the food plot. And usually, she’s the first deer here at dawn. I get up, put on coffee, pull on wool pants and winter coat, warm gloves and a scarf, and take an apple to her before she arrives. Mid-afternoon, I repeat this with another apple or two. It’s the first place she typically goes just before sunset as well.

I hoped this motherless fawn would take up with the doe that’s alone but it hasn’t happened. She does occasionally run into the food plot (running creates a blur on the cameras) to eat with does and their fawns, but she doesn’t leave with them. No matter how many times I think “go with them, you’ll be safer,” she doesn’t.

When the rut was over the bucks settled down. One of them sticks around and is here most nights. He allows the fawn to stay with him at the apple tree by the pond and in the food plot. “Go with him, you’ll be safer,” I think, and I think that maybe she does. They both disappear from the pictures at the same time.

It’s been horribly cold here, below 0°F. Even lithium batteries don’t hold up to this kind of cold so I pull a card every few days, see that there aren’t any photos, and leave the rest of the cards out there. I know by his distinctive track in the snow that the buck is here almost nightly. There are does and fawns but they aren’t here when I’m looking out the window. I don’t know if one of them is the motherless fawn.

Morning and mid-afternoon (sunset around 3:45 in the afternoon), I take out the apples, look at the tracks, and wonder where she is at the moment. She was here during the Christmas day blizzard when the snow tapered off for a bit. After that…I don’t know.

(All times are one hour ahead)

The day before the first snow. She spent most of the day in the food plot, browsing and bedded down. She will watch me from the plot until I pass the hen house. Beyond there I’m too close and she runs into the woods.

motherless, fawn, winter coat

With the buck. They were in the food plot off and on all night.

motherless, doe fawn, whitetail, whitetail buck in winter

3:41 pm, apple already eaten.

motherless, fawn, doe, white tail, deer, winter

8:36 am Apple eaten, food plot cruised, time for a nap. She bedded down between the food plot and pond.

motherless, fawn, winter

Christmas Day

doe fawn, christmas day blizzard, motherless

It’s not going to warm up for another five days so it’s likely there won’t be pictures until late next week. Unless she returns to the plot during the day when I can see her we won’t know if she’s still around. The was a parade of deer as they passed through on the way to their winter feeding ground. If she isn’t still here I hope this motherless fawn tagged along.