EDITOR’ NOTE: This is a continuation of a story published in our September 18 issue. Debbie had been watching a mother deer near her rural Hibbing home. At the end of the story, Debbie had just discovered the source of an animals’ cry: a fawn hiding under a fern. —Tucker Nelson, HTF Editor
A few hours later, I received a call that it was time for me to return to town to pick up my husband at his medical appointment. The normal routine is for me to walk my dog Shakira around the driveway south of our home and then rush to town to pick my husband up. As we briskly walked our driveway on our normal route, something tiny emerged from the edge of the woods onto the spring green field embroidered with yellow flowers.
The fawn’s emergence and intrusion into our routine was a dream. I quickly returned my dog Shakira to the house and grabbed my iPad to take a few pictures. Danny would and could wait a few minutes for one time. The fawn wandered toddling back and forth squalling. I took as many pictures as I could when I realized that the fawn was toddling toward me as if to follow me. It seemed determined to do that!
The fawn’s mother was in attendance and did not seem to care that I was there. She was none other than the mother deer! She ate grass hungrily (no doubt) while I snapped as many photos as I could.
I was not sure mother deer would like the fawn getting so close to me. To avoid an encounter that was too close for mother deer, I backed up as the fawn approached. That seemed to work (it might not have mattered) and after our quick photo shoot, I went with the plan to drive to town to pick up my husband Dan. He was fine and did not seem to mind. The delay was only minutes long.
Later, I was filled with joy and wonder regarding the experience, but also filled with concern for the noisy little one and its mother. I wondered why the baby had been so determined to follow me. I did not think it possible that mother deer had already told her fawn that I was a pushover and a softie. It may have been the reason why.
Could it be that it liked me? I can’t imagine why it would. Hmm…could it have considered me a possible food source? No, that could not possibly be it either as that ship came and sailed away years ago. Could it be that the fawn thought I was another wild animal? There could be some truth to that statement. I grew up in the woods so it would be no wonder that I would fit right in with the rest of the wild animals. Another valid answer could be that the fawn wanted to apply for the position of substitute child as I was currently on leave from my position in the field of early childhood. Now that was a real possibility and one that I would welcome.
On a serious note, I think the fawn might instinctively follow something that is taller than it as a survival reflex. That is my guess. Also, the fawn might have been hungry and not getting enough milk. Finally, I would like to believe that the fawn had sensed that the human who stood before it was a safe person who cared about it, would go the extra mile to protect it, and transform to superhero grandma status to protect it beyond human abilities if that was ever needed. (My grandson Dominic had taught me how to be a superhero!)
In fact, if it were ever needed, I am sure this superhero could become a transformer and transform from an irritated Elmer Fudd to a mini angry feminine version of Arnold Schwarzenegger. Trust me, it is a sight that most would not care to see or experience! The fawn had done a good job choosing this person.
I felt so bad for mother deer. She had just had a fawn the preceding year and recently pulled through a difficult winter only to have another fawn. She now had to deal with a fawn that was a challenge. It is probably not easy to keep a noisy fawn safe.
Mother deer was so visibly thin that I instantly forgave her for all her past transgressions and for elevating my blood prestation, sure multiple times. I even decided that I would forgive her for every bloom in my yard that I had worked hard for and never saw. Be forewarned that on July 3, 2020, I swallowed hard and bit my tongue when I discovered that my cosmos had been recently trimmed in the planter underneath my mailbox. I kept my word.
On the eve of Tuesday, May 26, a new song joined the sweet spring concert and the squall of the baby fawn. I hummed an introduction to my own tune to join the evening chorus as I walked my dog Shakira on the driveway that circled our garage. I thought of my cosmos and how little they mattered to me when I considered the big picture, and how much I valued mother deer and her tiny little one.
I did not know any cosmos flower songs, so I sang, “The Rose.” I was not sure if the new tune blended in with the rest of the concert. There were no complaints. As usual, the deer and the grouse were not talking though I think I might have heard the drum of a grouse.
I was horrified and appalled early the morning of Wednesday, May 27. I had just walked around the corner onto our driveway with my dog Shakira to find a fawn lying there awkwardly and askew! I feared something had happened to the fawn. I remember that my jaw dropped in horror, not sure about that, but I was so surprised and distracted with concern that I was not completely competent in response to the situation.
When I realized that the fawn was alive, I also realized that Shakira had walked right up to the tiny being and stood over it, checking it out curiously by sniffing. She did not touch it. I cautioned her to “be nice,” which she was, and we stood back to assess the situation.
I could see that the fawn was shivering. It had rained the night before and the woods and field were wet. I believe that it would have been colder for the fawn to lie in that environment. I think that the mother deer had probably brought her baby intentionally to the driveway because the ground would have at least been dry.
I put Shakira back into the house and returned to the scene with my iPad to take a few pictures. Mother deer was nearby and did not seem overly concerned with the situation. She did become overly concerned with one situation and that was the immediate presence of a few crows or ravens. She chased them away with a fury!
I had not even thought about that threat, but now that she had thought of it, a fawn lying in a driveway would seem like roadkill on which crows or ravens often feed. (I am not sure whether the birds were crows or ravens, and I was too caught up in the entire situation to pay attention to what the birds were until they were gone and it was too late to tell.)
Mother deer did the correct thing in chasing the crows or ravens away because a crow or a raven could do damage to a helpless fawn. Not that many years ago, I had been bit by a raven, so I do know firsthand exactly what they are capable of (that is another story). I had been bit more than once.
My son Jon would say that is God’s way of weeding out the dumb ones. In my defense, I could not pry the raven off from me, so I was a little stuck. That is what I mean when I say I know firsthand what a raven can do.
I did not interfere with mother deer and her baby. Later, I did observe mother deer lead her baby south toward and into the field. I noticed that the fawn was tiny enough to move under the old dump truck that sat there. It is possible that the truck had provided some sort of shelter the night before.
The next few days were uneventful, other than the continuation of the squalling of the fawn. It was cause for concern. My cousin’s wife Brenda, who lives two blocks south of us, voiced her concern as she had also heard the little one’s cries. We discussed that and I offered the lack of water as a possible cause for the situation. The conditions were dry in that there had not been much rain. A lack of standing water could be a contribution to the problem. I wondered if the mother was not able to find enough drinking water to produce ample milk for her baby.
I noticed that the mother was always attending to her baby and seemed to stay close to it. One explanation I had read is, if the mother deer left and stayed away from the baby too much, that could cause the baby to cry more than normal. Mother deer always seemed to attend to her baby though. Her devoted attendance could have contributed to the problem in that she might have deprived herself sufficient water because she was so devoted to her baby.
After I had mentioned my plausible explanation for the crying fawn problem, Brenda asked me if I had provided a water source for the deer. I answered “yes,” telling her that I had carried out a five-gallon pail of water to the back field the night before around 11:30 p.m. She just smiled because she knows me. I know her too. Days went by and we tried to make the best of the situation. We kept our fingers crossed for a positive outcome for them both.
On Saturday, May 30, I was outside around 1 p.m. on an errand and observed poor mother deer traveling slowly south on our driveway behind the house followed by her tiny squalling fawn. They both entered the field and turned west to enter the trail that connects to the field behind the house. They both turned and looked at me and continued to travel west into the back field.
A little later, when my son came to deliver a load of wood, we discussed the issue of the crying fawn. I told my son that something was unique about the situation in that deer had delivered fawns in our yard a few times before and all of them had been quiet…at least none had been near as noisy as the current fawn who had blessed our yard with his presence. I helped my son Jon split and pile the load of wood he brought, and he also heard and observed the fawn. The rest of the day was uneventful until that evening.
At dusk on May 30, I had gone outside to perform a chore when I heard mother deer’s fawn squalling noisily and decided to check that out. I could see poor mother deer standing with her baby on the north edge of our property, seeming undecided as to what to do or where to turn.
I took a few steps in their direction and they walked toward me. It was then that I could see that something was stalking them (or probably the fawn)! That something was low, slinking, appeared reddish brown and seemed to have a long flowing tail.
Because it was dusk, it was difficult to see it clearly. However, I could see that whatever the predator was, it traveled the inner edge of the ditch on this side of the road, blended in, and then seemed to disappear. I think it disappeared because I had appeared. I will make a comment about some of these predators. From experience, I have observed that some of them do not give up. They will track their prey until they have them. That, however, is another story.
Debbie Lamphere lives in Hibbing. Watch for the rest of her story in future issues of Hometown Focus.