Stillwater News Press

Sports Columns

June 22, 2014

The Outdoor Almanac: Whitetail deer fawns increasing in area

STILLWATER, Okla. — For the past few weeks you may have noticed small cloven tracks in soft soil indicating white-tailed deer fawns are on the ground.

Fawns are typically born in late May or early June in Oklahoma. For the first few weeks, fawns are typically hidden in dense cover to avoid predation. By mid- to late June, they become more visible as they start to travel with the doe.

Look for them at this time near dense cover in early morning or late afternoon. June is a taxing time for lactating does, as they must not only meet their own nutritional needs but also those of one, two, and occasionally, three fawns.

Fortunately, early summer is a time of abundance. Most plants are actively growing and are palatable due to high protein levels and low lignin, chemical defenses and silicate levels.

At this time of year, white-tailed deer are relying heavily on forbs, which are broad-leaved herbaceous plants. New growth of woody plants also is consumed during the summer, but not to the extent it will be during the fall and winter.

Assuming the doe is able to find sufficient food resources, fawns will grow rapidly. Therefore, carefully consider your herbicide and mowing plans as you could be removing not only critical cover, but also food for white-tailed deer and other wildlife, such as eastern cottontail and northern bobwhite.

Occasionally, you may stumble upon a hidden solitary fawn. If so, resist the urge to “rescue” it, and leave it alone. The doe is nearby and is patiently waiting for you to move along so she can nurse.

Once the fawn is about 10 weeks old, it will be weaned and will forage with the doe for the remainder of the summer and into the fall.

Recent rains across the state have dramatically improved forage quantity and should help with fawn survival this season.

Dwayne Elmore is Oklahoma State University Cooperative Extension wildlife specialist in the department of natural resource ecology and management.

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