10 Fun Facts About Whitetail Fawns

fawns 1We celebrate the beautiful little creatures being born right now!

–A fawn weighs 4 to 8 pounds at birth; its weight doubles in 2 weeks.

–A fawn has a unique smell that the mother recognizes.

–A fawn can walk hours after birth.

–A newborn fawn spends its first weeks mostly alone and in hiding; it interacts with the mother doe only twice a day and nurses 2 or 3 times.

–A healthy fawn can outrun you when it’s only days old, but it takes 3 to 6 weeks before it can elude most predators.

–A fawn has about 300 white spots.

–25% of twin fawns have different fathers.

–”Multiple paternity” was found in triplet fawns at Auburn University. Three fawns born to the same doe had 3 different fathers!

–Twin fawns are the norm. In a prime habitat where the soil/feed/cover are outstanding, 20% to 30% of does might drop triplets. In a habitat with poor soils and feed, a doe is lucky to have and raise one fawn.

–A doe might give birth to 2 buck fawns or 2 doe fawns, but by the end of fawning season things average out to about 50-50 doe and buck fawns in a deer herd.

 

Will The 2019 Storms And Record Flooding Kill Whitetail Fawns?

deer floodsWill the storms and subsequent record flooding in Arkansas, Missouri, Kansas, Mississippi and other central and south-central states kill fawns that are dropping right now and into June?

Biologists note that pregnant does are good mothers, and they sense when to move out of a flood zone. The primary concern for deer populations is for stressed does that are dropping or dropped fawns in areas of rising water levels, and the fawns were too young to move to higher ground.

This is surely the case in some flood-ravaged areas.

“We know it’s going to have a negative impact,” said William McKinley, Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries, and Parks Deer Program coordinator. “Let’s just say that up front.”

But fawn survival in flood plains is typically high, even during flood years.

“A reduced fawn crop (in the Mississippi Delta) is what I expect to see,” said McKinley. How much? We have to wait and see.”

 

What Is The Lifespan of Whitetail Deer?

dom doeTwo of the most amazing facts from the 2018 deer season:

A young hunter in Vermont shot a wild doe that, according to a tooth-wear analysis, was 20 years old!

And another hunter in Vermont killed a 12-year-old buck!

Which begs the question: How long do deer live?

In captivity, whitetail does have been documented to live 18 to 25 years, and bucks 14 years.

In the wild, where hunters consider a 5-year-old buck to be an old one, deer have the capability to live longer than you think.

A doe in Louisiana was aged at 21 1/2 years.

Recent data from Pennsylvania confirms 3 wild does to be at least 13.5 years old.

Interestingly, other does from Vermont in past seasons have been documented at 16 to 20 years. (My theory is that deer up there live so long because there are relatively few deer in the state, 130,000 according to recent estimates; there are relatively few deer hunters; and not as many deer are killed by cars in Vermont as in other states.)  

Noted whitetail researcher Leonard Lee Rue III documented ages in both wild and captive deer dating back to the 1930s. Rue’s oldest documented wild deer ranged from 16-1/2 years to 19-1/2 years.

“Females of almost all species of mammals, including humans, just live longer,” he said. “The males of most species are usually 20 percent larger than the females. Perhaps males are worn out sooner by this extra weight and the extra food that has to be eaten and processed to achieve and maintain this weight.”

 

2018 Pennsylvania Deer Harvest Highest In 14 Years…State “has never managed whitetails better.”

???????????????????????????????From the York Dispatch: “The (Pennsylvania Game Commission) reported that a total of 374,690 deer were harvested during the state’s 2018-19 hunting seasons, which closed in January.

“That total tops the previous year’s harvest of 367,159 by about 10 percent.”

The 2018 antlerless harvest of 226,940 was up about 10 percent over last year. Data show that most does—64%–killed by hunters were 2.5 years old, and the remainder were 1.5 years old.

The 2018-19 buck kill of 147,750 was down 10% from the previous season. The commission says that steady, heavy rain during opening weekend of gun season was the biggest reason for the decline—it kept a lot of hunters out of the woods, and the bucks didn’t move well in the poor conditions.

During any year, about half of Pennsylvania’s overall buck harvest typically occurs on opening day of firearms season. It’s like that in many states.

In a positive trend that you see in states across the country, the percentage of older bucks in the 2018-19 PA harvest was high. About 64 percent of the bucks shot by hunters were at least 2½ years old.

“That almost two-thirds of the bucks…were at least 2½ years old is a tribute to the science our deer managers use and the sacrifices a generation of hunters made in the commonwealth,” said Bryan Burhans, the game commission’s executive director. “The bucks being taken every day in Pennsylvania’s deer seasons are living proof that this commonwealth has never managed whitetails better.”

In the photo: Longtime BIG DEER blogger Terry “Big Daddy” Murphy shot this buck on October 16, 2018 on his land in Potter County. It was Big Daddy’s 40th archery buck in 40 years of hunting Pennsylvania, which is a 1 buck per year state. 

How Will “Bomb Cyclone” and Snowmelt Flooding Affect Deer?

floods deerThe recent bomb cyclone combined with spring snowmelt has swelled some Midwest rivers to record levels and forced the evacuation of hundreds of homes. The governors of Nebraska, Iowa and Wisconsin have declared emergencies. Some of the water-logged areas are bracing for more rain this week.

 

How will all this flooding affect whitetail deer in the region?

Biologists say that rising floodwaters of river and creeks won’t kill many if any adult deer, though it will displace the animals for days and weeks. But the deer will eventually filter back into their habitats once the waters recede.

Good news is that pregnant does will move out of rising water now and for the next few weeks. The primary concern for deer herds in and around flood zones is later on in May and June, when the does start dropping fawns.

“But fawn survival in flood plains is typically very high, even during flood years,” says noted whitetail scientist Grant Woods. “To cause any significant problems in a herd, the water levels would have to rise very rapidly and be timed when the peak of fawn births occur, and before the fawns are mobile. This is a relatively narrow window of time. Rivers rarely rise that quickly, and does are excellent mothers.”

One concern, though, is how the current Midwestern flooding might wash away and/or flatten preferred fawning cover for later on this spring. “If does are forced to fawn in fields or woods where there isn’t as much cover as usual, coyote predation on the fawns can increase,” says Grant.

The cumulative effects of the bomb cyclone, snowmelt and flooding later on this spring could impact fawning cover in some areas, but that remains to be seen.