Rite of late spring: whitetail fawn-drop 2014
The gestation period for whitetail does is approximately 200 days, or about six and a half months. Right now, if you pay attention to the landscape, you’ll see newborn fawns trotting behind their mothers all over the place. My first fawn sighting occurred maybe 10 days ago and since then I’ve seen several.
Laying eyes on the first fawns of the year always causes me to reflect on whitetails as a species, and that naturally tends to prompt thoughts of hunting them, too. Although it’s easy to forget, I can recall speculation from fellow hunters throughout the fall on just when the rut will occur, or more importantly, peak. I used to be among that camp until a woman who owns a large herd of captive deer took me to task over my opinions during a phone call several years ago. The gist of her rundown of me was that the rut takes place during the same time every single year no matter what the weather, lunar phase, or barometric pressure is doing.
She was right, of course. Those wobbly legged, spotted youngsters hit the ground at the same time each spring, which pretty much proves that the conception dates occurred at nearly the same time 200 days previous. This simultaneous drop is beneficial for a few reasons. First off, that many newborns in the woods ensures that predators won’t get them all. The survival rate varies for a variety of reasons, and tends to drop significantly in places with high bear densities, but overall the strategy is sound. Secondly, if you watch any deer saunter through the woods right now you’ll see them browsing on a variety of fresh growth. At no time of the year do deer have more to eat than right now.
While the timing of fawn births has been spot-on (pun intended), one thing I have noticed is that I haven’t seen a single set of twins yet. In my area of Minnesota twinning is very common. Either I’m just missing those does with twins, or Mother Nature in the form of a long, hard winter, stepped in and cut down the number that many does were carrying. This has me curious, and should become more evident as summer progresses.