Mom hops over the fence into the pen leaving the fawn in the yard. No problem there, he just hangs out. But then it’s closing time at the alfalfa buffet. The fawn starts to realize the predicament he is in. Mom’s over there and he’s over here and he can’t jump that high. Hmmm. What to do. As all the other whitetails head out of the pen, she comes back up to the fence and he goes over to her. They exchange an unspoken communication. He begins to look for a way out of the yard. She goes out of the pen by another open gate and circles around to be outside the yard fence.
He paces all along the fence. There are places on each side of the driveway gate that even I could crawl through to get outside. He goes back and forth past these but doesn’t seem to understand he can get out that way. He goes on around the fence and passes another large hole under the fence, one I enlarged last year by moving some rocks so the little deer could get through. He passes a walk-through gate. I leave the chain on the gate loose so the fawns can squeeze through. I figured this was how he got in in the first place but if it was he has no recollection of it.
|Mom waits for baby|
The fawn sees me and gets a little edgy and runs away a little bit. I circle around the cabin to herd him back toward the gate. He runs right past the wide open gate. I am losing hope that he will live to grow up if he doesn‘t get a little wiser. He goes back to the front near the driveway gate.
I go up on the front porch and figure I’ll leave the gate open and sooner or later he will realize he can walk through it. But it stresses him a bit that I am on the porch and he makes a wild and fast dive under the fence and rejoins his mom. She turns to me and gives me a last look as they walk off together.
He is a beautiful little fawn and she is a good mom. Texas Parks and Wildlife has said that many does are walking away from their fawns this year in order to save themselves. And when I look at the thin bodies of the moms that live here, I can understand it. I believe we have lost one twin here already. I see two moms with single fawns.
We do have a new set of twins here. Their mom is the little “yard deer” who since last year always hung out close to the cabin and wasn‘t quick to run off. These are her first babies. They were born a few weeks ago; later than any other fawns we have seen. She keeps them right with her.
I went to the feed store yesterday to get a couple of deer blocks for her. I confessed to the feed store owner that I am breaking down and trying to keep one of the moms alive. It’s a road that once you start down, it’s hard to get off and it is a losing cause more often than not. He tells me that I’m not the only one; he has other customers, some in town, that are doing the same thing.
She ate a good chunk of the deer block yesterday. Tonight there are two other bully does fighting each other over the block. They don’t have babies. The yard deer is in the longhorns’ pen eating cedar leaves, her tiny babies at her side. This is a last resort for starving deer. Once the bully does leave she will come into the yard and eat on the deer block. Maybe this and the extra corn I put out for her and the alfalfa the longhorns leave will be enough to help her and her babies survive. And maybe not.
This part of the state has way more deer than it can support even when conditions are good. The whitetail here are always small. If only the strong would survive, there would still be plenty of whitetails. I’ve known the way of nature since I was a child.
But when nature is your close neighbor and you watch the same animals each day it’s not always easy to remain neutral. Sometimes you have to try to give the underdog a little advantage and hope it tips the scales for them.
And that’s a good policy for people too.