The Outdoor Journal by Kyle Carroll
Natural mortality, hunting, fences, cars and predation have whittled away at the herd for 12 months, but in late May, the cycle starts over when the new years crop of fawns are born.
Most whitetail does are bred in November, some earlier and some later, the end result is a peak of the fawn drop is during the last of May and the first of June.
Twins are common, but occasionally triplets or a single fawn is born. According to Schwartz in “The Wild Mammals of Missouri,” new fawns weigh between four and seven pounds and measure 17-19” in total length. The fawn’s eyes are open and it can stand feebly on its own. Typically, the doe leaves the fawns alone, but stays within hearing distance of their calls. She will nurse them frequently and lick them carefully while they stay in the vicinity of their birthplace for several weeks. After three or four precarious weeks, the fawns begin to follow the doe and eat their first solid food. Weaning can begin anytime after that with some does nursing their fawns for a full six months.
Amazingly, about half of the doe fawns become sexually mature within six to eight months and will breed in the same year of their birth.
In 2014, The Missouri Department of Conservation and the University of Missouri began a joint five-year study using satellite technology to study deer birth rates and mortality rates in North Missouri fawns and South Missouri fawns. In addition to gathering the best birthrate and mortality information on whitetails that managers have ever had, the actual dispersal or movement of whitetails within the state will be better understood as well.
Next week I'll share my experience in locating and radio collaring a couple of fawns with the North Missouri deer study team.