Yesterday while checking the sheep on our place west of Lampasas my wife suddenly pointed to a small animal drinking from a rain puddle in the middle of the road. It was smaller than a jack rabbit and stood with wide open brown eyes trying to figure out what this strange thing coming down the road was and if it posed a danger. The big ears and white spots on the reddish brown hide identified the animal as a very young whitetail fawn, just days old if that. The fawn broke from it’s trance and ran for the brush and safety from whatever the strange creature it had just seen. It reminded me that I needed to post a warning about touching these little fawns. This is the time of year that people come across these darling little creatures and want to pick them up or feel they are abandoned and think they are saving them. Do not touch it, if you get your scent on it the doe may not take it back when she returns. Deer bond based on smell and if that smell is strange she will not accept the young deer as her fawn.
Not only are fawns found out in the countryside but also in city neighborhoods as we encroach into their habitat with housing developments. In Suburbia the deer are quite at home with living on the forage found in large yards and greenbelts. Several generations have been raised among the houses and traffic and thus it is normal for them. What is not normal are the numbers of fawns that are picked up by well meaning souls that find them laying in the yard or on the edge of a hike and bike trail. A doe will place her fawn somewhere she feels is secure and go off to feed. She will later return to check the fawn and nurse it as needed. So many city folks that run across these fawns think they are abandoned or the mother is dead and take them. Not being equipped nor trained in raising deer they either have to get help or try to raise it themselves. Many can not get the little fawn to nurse or give it the wrong kind of milk and start it towards a cruel death even though they had good intentions. Rehabbers in our area have an over abundance of whitetail fawns they are raising because well-intentioned people have picked them up.
Remember that if you find a fawn leave it where it is unless it is covered by fire ants. Do not get your scent on it. The doe will return and retrieve her fawn later. If you really think it is abandoned come back and check on it later just before dark. Ninety-nine percent of the time the doe will have moved it. It is illegal for you to possess a fawn in Texas so if it truly needs help you should go to the Texas Parks and Wildlife website and locate a licensed rehabber in your area. They will take the fawn and give it a chance to survive. Feel free to observe the beautiful wildlife of Texas, but do it from a distance, Wild Ed