The rain that passed our way a few days ago helped dampen the dust that normally clouds up when I drive this winding road to our camp house. As I came around one of the many bends there on the road's edge was a doe and her fawn. The doe spotted me and immediately began trotting with her flag raised along the road's edge with her fawn in tow. It wasn't long before she cut into the safety of the woods, while her fawn continued trotting along the road ahead of me. Why didn't it follow her?
Fawns begin to lose their white spots around the age of 3-4 months, so I assumed that this particular one was anywhere from 1-2 months of age. Several years back I flushed one that had been bedding down in the tall grass behind the camp house while I was mowing. At first I didn't know what I was seeing as it scurried low to the ground towards the forest. As it reached the edge of the woods it stood up and only then did I realize what it was. Moments later I heard an adult deer snort loudly, followed by the crashing sound of them bounding off into the distance.
After a fawn is born the mother eats the afterbirth and any blood-riddled plants removing any scent or sign that a deer was just born, which could attract predators. She then gives the fawn a thorough cleaning with her raspy tongue leaving it with basically no scent, which again helps prevent the attraction of predators specifically while the fawn beds down while its mother is away feeding. Also, fawns instinctively know that when trouble appears to drop to the ground and remain motionless.
I stopped my truck, reached for my camera and as I looked up noticed that the fawn had also stopped. Young deer this age are curious having not yet matured and was probably wondering what the large object (my truck) was stopped in the middle of the road. Even at this young age its keen senses were at work- its ears rotating in all directions gauging the surrounding sounds as was its twitching nose testing the air for identifying scents. I took several pictures before a car approaching from the opposite direction spooked it causing it to bound off into the woods disappearing from sight.
Another post on fawns can be found here.
"The White-tailed Deer" by Ilo Hiller
"The Hidden Life of Deer" by Elizabeth Marshall Thomas