Stillwater News Press

Sports Columns

June 22, 2014

Cross Timbers Outdoor Report: Now is the time to scout for fawn

STILLWATER, Okla. — I have a habit of taking a walk every now and then with an eight iron. After blasting golf balls into the pasture, there comes a time to try and find them. I went on one of these walks Thursday night, and took my two black labs to get them out of the yard.

One dog is three and the other, and more obedient retriever of the two, is six. As we walked along the field edge the younger dog flushed a fawn. My heart sank as I watched the fawn shoot out of the grass with my black lab in hot pursuit.

All I could think was that the fawn was done for, and I ran after them as fast as I could yelling at my dog to come back. As I rounded the corner of the field edge the fawn began to bleat, and then a doe ran across in front of me. As I crested the knoll I found my dog as he came back seeming double crossed.

The doe heard her fawn and distracted my dog during the pursuit. The instinct to survive crossed with the knowledge and action of an old doe saved her fawn.   

There was no sign the fawn was injured, but surly an early life lesson was provided. It is not easy being a fawn. They lay motionless in the tall grass, covered in ticks and hunted by coyotes. Their mortality can be very high and their contribution to the deer herd marks what I consider to be the start of the new deer season.

There is no need to deploy trail cameras on a proven hunting area until fawns come along. Their arrival marks a new addition, and July is the first time they spend their full day with mom.

Getting an idea of how many fawns you have will give you a baseline for making many decisions throughout the year. I set cameras out for a month each July to see how many fawns the does have produced. Then I pull the cameras out.

I get leery of bombarding deer with my presence with the hunting season so far away. There is also not much to be gained from leaving cameras out unless you have a buck that you’re after. My bucks generally don’t get moving around until the middle of September, so I leave them alone and wait.

But I have important information to study while I wait for bucks to drop their guard. By January I will know how many fawns have a chance to make it through to next season. Yes the worst of winter has to be survived, but does and fawns have protection from the formation of large groups.    

The opposite is what makes July such a good time to gain information from trail cameras. This time of the year is when does start to socialize again after giving birth, and form small groups that travel and live together until the rut disrupts their union.

Jon Kocan is an outdoor columnist for the Stillwater News Press. Kocan is a long time local hunter. Email Kocan at jkocan@stwnews-press.com

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