The sun had yet to show even a sliver of its bright disk above the horizon, though the ample light of dawn made clear it wouldn’t be long before that happened. And as is always the case that early in the morning, my uncle and I were already busy tending to farm work.
Because white-tailed deer (a.k.a. whitetail deer; Odocoileus virginianus) are common out here in the country, we often see them as we toil about the property. In fact, some have become so accustomed to us that they don’t run—instead they look at us briefly before returning to whatever they’re doing. Which is usually eating.
So on this morning we glanced into the largest pasture and noticed a doe standing perhaps ten yards/meters from the fence. She knew we were close—standing at the fence—yet she never stopped or ran.
And what was she doing? It was obvious from the moment I saw her, with her head far down in the tall grass. I knew she had a fawn. From the way she tended to it without fleeing, I also knew it couldn’t be more than a few hours old because she was still cleaning it, licking it, bonding with it.
So I grabbed my camera.
By then, as luck would have it, the newborn was able to get up and walk, albeit not fast and not expertly. As I approached the fence again with my camera, we saw the mother turn and walk steadily away from us.
The only sign of the fawn was the grass bending and parting a step or two behind the doe. That meant I’d have to go in the pasture if I had any hope of grabbing a photo or two.
Over the fence I went.
I had to move at a good pace in order to catch up to the pair who had already made it across most of the large pasture. They rapidly approached the corner of the fence. I rapidly approached as well.
Though the doe made it over without a problem, she paused on the other side of the fence even as I neared. I knew it was my chance. She was waiting on the fawn who would have to wiggle and squeeze through the fence.
When the doe bolted, huffing all the while, and paused maybe ten yards/meters away, still huffing at me, I realized it was my chance. The fawn had to be nearby since it couldn’t keep up with its mother, not to mention its mother trying hard to keep me interested in her.
Then I found it just a step away.
Nestled in tall grass and motionless, the fawn was perfectly concealed, at least from predators looking for a solid outline or something in motion or a contrasting coat.
While I snapped a few photos, the mother looped around through the woods nearby, huffing every few steps, stopping often to look at me, making sure I saw and heard her. But I had no intention of harming her newborn, a baby just hours old, so I let her continue with her display and her antics as I focused on the fawn.
Just a few images more of this beautiful creature, so young and so vulnerable yet so unflinching, and then I stood and walked away, not looking back, not pausing.
Only when I’d crossed the pasture did I dare to glance back. I saw only the doe as she meandered slowly back into the woods from where I’d just been standing. And though I couldn’t see it for all the trees and grass between us, I imagined somewhere right behind her was a tiny little fawn pushing through grass much taller than it was, a newborn who knew when it was time to sit still and when it was time to follow its mother.
I smiled briefly, glad for the encounter, then I went back to work.
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- I normally would not consider interfering with nature in such a way just to get a photo. I prefer passive observation and in situ images. But in this case I realized I could only get the images if I could get close enough to force the fawn into hiding. And I also knew my quick visit would cause no lasting harm, what with the mother staying a stone’s throw away and keeping a close eye on her child.
- My apologies for my long absence from blogging. It’s been a hectic and busy summer around the family farm. I’ve had barely enough time to do some occasional photography, but for the most part I have worked and worked and worked with little time for anything else. As the summer comes to a close and things begin to slow down a wee bit around here, I have ample pictures and stories to share. And I intend to do just that.