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Baby Deer: Facts and Herd Health Indicators of the Fawns We See Every Year


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That trophy you're after was a naive newborn just a few years ago, so what made him the lucky buck to survive the whitetail woods?

Most fawns are born in late spring or early summer at an average of just 4-8 pounds.

One-year-old does typically give birth to a lone, healthy fawn, while older mother deer can birth two or three.

Newborn fawns sport approximately 300 white spots on their brown coats and can outrun most danger by 3-6 weeks of life, thanks to their defense mechanisms and speed.

Fawn Mortality

The first cause of death that comes to mind for most hunters is deer fawn predation. With coyotes, bobcats, bears, and other wild animals in the deer woods, these young deer (and other baby animals) certainly fall victim to predators quite often.

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But according to a study by the University of Delaware, fawn mortality is extremely high even in the absence of predators. Researchers recorded a 45-percent fawn survival rate after 90 days in an area of Delaware with virtually no natural whitetail predators. Fawn deaths were instead attributed to natural causes including emaciation, disease or birth defects. The study findings indicate that predators kill the "doomed surplus" of young fawns that would die regardless of predation.

To ensure a healthy herd, deer biologists recommend not only managing predators (which may or may not have an impact) but also practicing overall quality deer management and fawn-friendly farming, since many newborn fawns will find a safe hiding place in tall grass.

According to this same study, the three most important factors affecting fawn mortality rate are birth weight, daily rainfall, and mothering doe age. Baby fawns over 6.6 pounds had the best chance for survival, as well as those born to mature does over the age of 4. However, just 1 inch of rain in a day can double the risk of fawn death.

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