No matter how many days, weeks, months and years you spend in the whitetail woods, there are still surprises to be found each deer season.
This past Thanksgiving weekend, I was sitting with my son in a box blind beside a snow-covered brassica field when a reddish-colored spotted fawn arrived to feed. (You can see the edge of the blind's window in the above smartphone pic.) My female British Lab weighs 50 pounds, and this fawn is smaller than my dog. In fact, I doubt if the fawn weighs 40.
The fawn fed in front of us for nearly a half-hour, and at one point walked to within 15 feet of the blind’s opened windows.
I’ve seen spotted fawns in September, but not October, and certainly not late November!
I contacted avid whitetail hunter and wildlife biologist Dr. Grant Woods to get his take on my surprising encounter.
“Whew, it could be a tough winter for that fawn!” Woods said. “Deer need a lot of body weight to survive a tough Wisconsin winter. The larger their body, the easier to maintain body heat and core temps.
“I estimate this fawn to be approximately 3 months old, meaning it was probably born during August. The fawn's mother was probably bred during late January. A whitetail's gestation period is approximately 200 days, so if the doe was bred January 27, then the fawn would’ve been born August 15th. Even if I'm off by a month, it's still a very realistic scenario.
“Dave, thanks for sharing! Your food plot might save that fawn's life.”
Author's note: In this part of west-central Wisconsin, whitetails are typically bred in mid November, so this fawn is at least 2 months younger than the vast majority of other fawns in the area. I estimate the average weight of other fawns I spotted this past weekend at 75 pounds.