As spring creeps closer to summer, more and more hunters, farmers, and explorers will come upon newborn fawns while out and about. The majority of fawns are dropped during mid-May to early June in much of the country. In southern states (below the 35th parallel), fawning seasons will be scattered across the board since seasonal habitat demands are not as critical to fawn survival as they are in the more northern states. In northern states, it’s critical that fawns are dropped when the natural vegetation provides adequate cover for the fawns and nutritional value to the lactating doe. Also, fawns are born at a time when they will have adequate time to bulk up and prepare for the winter months.
As you can see, these strict and timely criteria are essential for whitetail recruitment which is exactly why the rut provides such a frenzy of action for a couple short weeks every fall.
Does drop their fawns approximately 200 days (6 months, 20 days) after conception. If you stumble across a newborn fawn, you can back date it and figure out approximately when that doe was bred. Say you find a fawn on May 30th and it looks to be about a week old – subtracting 207 days from the current date tells you that the momma doe was likely bred around November 6th. You can use this as an indicator of when the rut can be expected in your area.
In comparison, if you find a newborn fawn around the 4th of July, you can assume the mother was bred during her second estrous cycle or perhaps it is a fawn from one of last year’s fawns. These two differing options of the “July born fawn” can tell quite a different tale. If it came from a doe who cycled twice the previous fall, that may be an indicator of a poor buck to doe ratio and because of this, she didn’t get bred during her first go around – either because of too many competing does, or not enough bucks. If it was from a fawn, this actually a good sign! The reason being, a fawn will hit breeding maturity once they reach approximately 80 pounds. If a fawn from the previous spring reaches 80 pounds before January, there’s a good chance it will be bred. Perhaps more importantly, an 80-pound fawn is a pretty good indicator that there is a decent amount of quality forage available.
What should or shouldn’t you do if you find a fawn?
If you come across a fawn that doesn’t run off, don’t let it fool you into thinking it’s injured. This is simply the response mechanism of newborns – they crouch their head and remain motionless. Even though they look incredibly adorable and may seem like they are in need, don’t touch them. Simply snap a picture and go about your day.
While you should avoid touching fawns if possible, it’s not entirely detrimental to move them if you have to. Contrary to popular belief, a mother will not abandon a fawn that has been touched by a human, as long as it’s left alone and stays in the nearby area. For instance, if the fawn is in an unsafe place such as a hay field that’s ready to be mowed, it is perfectly fine to pick up the fawn and move it to a shady spot nearby. Place it in some cover so it’s not easily exposed and the mother will find it once you leave.
Moving fawns if you absolutely need to is fine, but do not try to care for the animal. Don’t try to give it any type of milk or food. Chances are the mom is nearby and she will care for her fawn once the danger has gone away. It’s always best to let wild animals fend for themselves . . . they know what they are doing.
Other Fun Fawn Facts
- Does that have twin fawns usually stash them in separate locations until they are able to walk and follow her.
- Does will clean their fawns and eat the afterbirth and will move the fawn from the birthing spot within 10 hours to the best possible cover. Does go to extreme measures to ensure the safety of their young by removing any predator attracting scent.
- Fawns can walk approximately 5 hours after they are born and have decent agility (running) after 5 days.
- During the first week, fawns spend 90% of their time bedded down.
- Fawns have an average of 300 spots and rely on them as camouflage during the first few months of their life. Their primary defense mechanism during the first week of its life is to remain bedded with their head near the ground like a statue.
- Does are usually within 100 hundred yards of their fawns, but typically stay a fair distance from them in order to not attract predators.
- Fawns begin to wean off their mother’s milk around the 3rd week and begin to eat and browse on vegetation.