“You know what I’d like to have here,” I asked my husband, Steve. “A food plot. We have the strip in the orchard the deer like but I’d really like to have a small food plot behind the back left corner of the clearing..” He agreed and we went to work cutting down trees, and by “we” I mean I cut a few small trees and he did the rest of the work. In mid-July (2016) a bulldozer showed up in our wood yard. Steve cleared an eighth of an acre. Later in the day he pushed back the brush. I left a few days later to attend a five-day writing retreat in the Adirondacks. When I came home the bulldozer was still here and the food plot grew to an acre. I had visions of spotted fawns prancing around in the plot.
Remember that movie? “If you build it, they will come?” They did. Snowshoe hare, moose, a black bear, a bobcat, a coyote, skunks, raccoons, a porcupine our then new dog Zoey met up close and personal, and the deer. The deer came, left for a few months over the winter, and didn’t keep me waiting long in the spring. The does and yearlings came back first. A buck followed soon after, and then in early June, the fawns were born. We’re fortunate to be watching twin fawns growing up via game camera photos.
There’s nothing like seeing a spotted fawn. They stop us in our tracks. Those spots are important—they’re camouflage that helps the fawn blend into its surroundings. For the first weeks of life fawns spend most of their time alone in the first three or four weeks, and with its sibling(s) for a short time after that, a safety system that keeps the scent from the doe from attracting predators to the fawn. They spend nursing time together, will walk a while, and then the fawn lies down in cover.
How do Fawns Lose Their Spots?
Fawns start losing their spots in September when their silky summer coat is shed and replaced by their standard winter garb. Hair by hair, the spots are lost, and I’m a little sad. There’s just something about those spots. By the time they turn six months old their spots are gone and they’ve grown nine or ten times their birth weight. The six to ten pound newborn goes into winter weighing approximately 85 pounds. Like their older relatives, they’ve eaten enough to put on a layer of fat beneath their skin, in their internal organs, between muscles (we call that marbling in domestic livestock), and filled their hollow bones. Did you ever wonder how starvation is determined when a deer dies? A clear indication is the absence of fat in the bones. Fawns have packed it in and like the rest of the deer, they go into winter with enough fat to last them a few months.
Buck or Doe
“Our” twins appear to be a buck and a doe. His pedicles, the base for antler growth, has been easy to see since mid-July. What we assume is a doe is a little camera shy. She doesn’t race around the cameras the way he does, preferring to stay closer to the center of the food plot. He won’t grow antlers this year but if he survives winter and returns to the food plot I’ll be looking at his head first. Spotted fawns – future does to help regenerate our low deer population and bucks to move into new territories and feed families.