The Orphan Fawns and culls

Buckmanager, Dec 15, 2008To begin, whitetail fawns are usually weaned and become functioning ruminants at eight weeks of age. Most fawns at southern latitudes are born in late May and June, meaning the majority of fawns are weaned by the end of August. And this makes sense from a biological perspective, because as late-summer food sources deplete the doe can then rely on the fawn to nourish itself. This covers the majority of whitetail fawns that hunters will encounter in the field during the fall hunting season.

In general, harvesting does with fawns will not impact an individual fawn, unless the fawn is less than two months in age. Fawns older than two months, found in areas with good habitat, are just as likely to survive after the doe is removed.

The First Months, 5 November 2010, Warnell School of Forest Resources, The University of Georgia
At about 2 weeks of age fawns begin experimenting with tender vegetation. By watching its mother feed, and by experimenting on its own, the fawn soon learns what foods to select. After about 2 months of age, the 4-chambered stomach is fully developed and the fawn likely could survive without its mother’s milk. However, fawns will continue to nurse until they are 4 or 5 months of age, or longer if the doe lets them.

WHITETAIL DEER – FAWNS, suwanneeriverranch.comA doe will sometimes protect her fawn if the predator is small, but more often she will not. The mother-fawn bond can also be broken in cases of starvation in which a doe will drive her own fawn away from a food source. That is nature’s strict law for the species: the most likely to survive come first. A doe can make more fawns, but she must be fed, alive and healthy to do it. Deer form small groups for much of the year. There are two kinds of deer groups. One is a mother deer and her fawns. One female deer may have up to three fawns at a time. The other type of group is made up of between three and five bucks.

Bucks try to prove their dominance (who’s toughest and in charge) by ramming each other, as well as kicking and flailing with their legs. Bucks also mark their territory by making rubbing their antlers on trees.

A doe has from one to three fawns in a litter. It usually depends on the age of the doe and how much food is around. Fawns stay with their mother for almost a year. She drives them off before she has a new litter.

The White-tailed Deer
Since mating season occurs in the fall, springtime is when whitetail doe tend to have their young. The average gestation period of the whitetail deer doe in North America is 200 to 205 days. This period can be shorter or longer depending on the availability of food. When food is plentiful the fawn will be born after a shorter gestation time while the opposite would be true if the food supply is scarce.As a general rule, most doe end up only having one fawn the first time; however, the following years they are more likely to have twins, and it’s really not uncommon for them to have triplets in some cases as well. Once she has her young, she is on her own raising her young.

Even after she begins taking out the fawns with her looking for food, they are usually not totally weaned until they are about 8-10 weeks old, meaning that she is quite tied down to them for some time.

Another interesting fact about whitetail deer doe in the spring is that this is the time when she often kicks out young males who were born the year before. Usually young bucks stay with their mother until they are almost a year old, but during the spring they usually leave on their own or the females will drive them away. On the other hand, young females often will stay with their mother for up to two years, and even then they usually stay in the same general area as their mother. However, once it is time for the doe to have a new litter of fawns, she often will return to her preferred fawning area in the spring, excluding the rest of her previous fawns from the area.

The Ann Arbor cull, as in most culls, occur in Winter months (after aerial survey– best with snow on the ground).
Since most fawns are dropped in May, the majority of fawns at the time of a cull are 7-8 months old.

The “orphan” fawns are then self sufficient and used to roaming around with the “herd”.

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