Quality over quantity seems to be the theme for this year’s fawn crop.
I’ve spent that last month servicing a string of trail cameras planted around the county in hopes of capturing and counting fawns via digital image. It’s always nice to have bucks walk by the cameras in the summer, but the real event of July is when fawns begin to spend more time on foot with mom.
I know bucks have been growing antlers for a while but the start to my season is when the fruits of last season’s rut are dropped. For me it’s new additions – new year.
Each summer, there seems to be a few unique themes that come from scanning through life in the woods one week at a time. This year it’s single fawns and small groups of yearling does.
The overwhelming theme of this year’s fawn crop is a lack of twins. This is noteworthy, but doesn’t exactly translate to being alarming. Yes, it appears there is a significant drop in twins born, but survival rates count as much as how many fawns hit the ground.
To put things into perspective, a good year sees one-third of mature local does produce twins. This year the number is closer to one-in-five- or-six according to my survey.
With that in mind, the one thing that is notable about the Cross Timbers’ newest whitetails is that they are bigger and healthier than I recall fawns being in the past. All the fawns I’ve captured on trail cameras and seen in person look robust and in impeccable condition.
These observations will be interesting to follow as fall transitions into winter. Will the bigger fawns have a better chance of surviving to spring, negating the lack of twins? Will the bigger fawns suffer more hunter mortality due to being confused with does during antlerless seasons?
If last year repeats itself, things are going to be great. The second theme from my camera trail pictures is young does that travel freely across their home range. It seems like every camera I have captures pictures of two yearling does roaming the world together.
These are deer that will be valuable assets to a farm in late November when the rut is winding down. They will probably join up late in the season with older does and have the potential to cycle late in the season luring in bucks from far and wide.
The better the age structure you have in a doe herd, the better chances you will have for bucks roaming your hunting grounds from fall into winter. For now, it’s summer and bucks are already starting to check out new places.
I got the first pictures of a buck worth getting excited about in the last week. Local bucks only have a few weeks before they will shed the velvet from their antlers.
Local fawns, with siblings or without, have a few weeks before their spots will begin to fade. The season of new life is giving to the season of breeding in the deer woods, and this year’s fawn crop appears to be high on quality despite being a little low on quantity.
Jon Kocan is the Stillwater News Press outdoors writer and a longtime hunter. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.