John Wilson a veteran of the Korean and Vietnam has a tender spot in his heart for animals.
The 82-year-old former marine is a registered wildlife rehabilitator with the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources, and has been caring for fawns with his wife for the past 20 years.
Wilson and his wife Sharon raise the fawns on their property for 12 months until they are required by law to be released back into the wild.
The fawns range from a few days old to a few weeks old when they first come into the Wilson’s care. The baby deer have either been orphaned or injured and are unable to care for themselves in the wild.
“They are a lot like newborn baby humans,” Wilson said.
He feeds the fawns a formula known as “milk replacer” out of sterilized bottles. The sick fawns get goat’s milk, which Wilson says helps them heal faster.
Check out this video of an unfazed fawn licking a hunter’s gun.
Once they have reached the 12-month mark, most of the deer are released to a nearby property, the Savannah River Site. Some of the fawns have a hard time adjusting to the wild, and choose to stay on the Wilson’s property.
The couple’s rabble of animals includes dogs, birds, cats, fish, chickens, ducks, and seven deer. One of the deer has been under the Wilson’s care for 15 years.
Wilson enjoys seeing the neglected fawns raised to maturity.
“When you see one grow up that would have died of starvation or neglect, it makes you feel like you’ve accomplished something.” Said Wilson.