Mule Deer Fawn

Mule Deer Fawn

This week I noticed a mule deer fawn (Odocoileus hemionus) outside my study window. On the other side of the fence was the fawn’s mother. The fawn was agitated because it could not jump over the fence, even though the mother was feigning leaps on the opposite side of the barrier. Leonard and I assumed the mother was attempting to demonstrate what she wanted the fawn to do. Eventually the fawn jumped through the fence. The doe and fawn then wandered off across our pastures onto a nearby butte.

Where we live near Lookout CA (Modoc County) most mule deer drop their fawns by the end of June. They are spotted for about 3 1/2 months. This fawn is probably about 2 months old and will retain its white spots for approximately another month . Fawns remain with their mothers until the fall.

I recently read an interesting 2007 study by Susan Lingle and her associates at the University of Alberta and the University of Lethbridge, both in Canada. They played recorded fawn distress calls (like those elicited by a fawn when attacked by a coyote). Mule deer females, even those with their own fawns safely standing beside them, responded to distress calls of mule deer fawns and also whitetail deer fawn distress calls. Even if a female mule deer did not have a fawn, it would run to the speaker. (In contrast, whitetail deer females would only respond to the distress calls of their own species.) These mule deer females came to the speakers and stayed as long as the distress call was played, twisting and turning around in an effort to find and confront the predator. Mule deer fight to protect themselves throughout the year and this willingness to defend their fawns results in less mule deer fawn mortality.

California currently has many raging wildfires. The grey cast to the photograph is a result of all the smoke in the air.

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3 Responses to Mule Deer Fawn

  1. tonytomeo says:

    As a baby, it looks like any other deer. Those mule deer are way too big. Not only can they do a lot more damage to the garden, but one would not fit into a freezer!

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