Fawning (deer) all over

Early June means new life across Kansas. Young robins are leaving their nests and fist-sized cottontails are bouncing around pastures, thickets and yards.

Few things, though, seem as special as seeing newly-born whitetail or mule deer.

Friends recently sent me this neat photo of two young fawns on their Butler County ranch.

The first few days of life the wobbly-legged fawns depend mostly on camouflage and lying perfectly still to avoid predators. Within a few days they’ll be able to run behind their mothers.

Most whitetail does have two fawns. Those that breed early, like when they’re six or seven months old, often only have one. Triplets aren’t too uncommon in older does that are in good health.

No wonder America’s deer population is growing rapidly in many areas. There’s also the fact that hunting isn’t allowed, or not allowed often, in many areas with dense deer populations.

Many fawns won’t live long enough to see hunting seasons, though. Many are killed by predators like coyotes and bobcats. In western Kansas golden eagles can easily kill deer and antelope fawns.

Free-ranging dogs are another potential predator. One summer a relative’s free-roaming giant schnauzer killed at least five fawns on our farm in Leavenworth County.

And occasionally the same agricultural practices that give deer easy living claims a few fawns, too. I’ve talked with several farmers who have killed fawns while cutting hay. The critters instinct for staying low or immobile in alfalfa or brome led to their demise.

Not to worry, though. Such animals are quickly cleaned up by such scavengers as vultures and coyotes.

And Mother Nature certainly has granted deer the gift for making rapid replacements.