Every day a herd of bucks passes through my property in the Santa Cruz Mountains. Because it’s important for rehabbed fawns to be released where wild deer visit regularly, NAR asked me to take on fawn rehabilitation. Once I learned more about fawns, I looked forward to caring for these vulnerable little creatures.
Building the large fawn enclosure was a challenge because it had to be built on a slope, and the few flat areas on the property were already occupied by raccoon enclosures. Following the advice of fawn expert Dina Hawkins we created a supportive environment for the fawns.
In late May, NAR transported the first two fawns to my property, and they immediately settled in. A few weeks later the youngest fawn joined the other two. All three fawns happened to be female. After reading a manual on fawn rehabilitation, I nervously awaited the many maladies that befall fawns in captivity. But fortunately, other than a couple of cases of diarrhea, only the youngest fawn had some minor problems which were successfully treated.
Over time, the fawns grew bigger, stronger and more agile. They frolicked around the enclosure and bolted if they heard or saw something that spooked them. Every time the bucks passed by, the fawns became attentive and excited and darted around. As they grew, the fawns ate more and more natural foods like acorns, wild fruit and a variety of branches and had fewer bottle feedings. By September they were totally weaned, and by the first week of October their spots had completely disappeared. They were now ready to be released.
On a warm, sunny morning, we opened both gates and within minutes, the youngest fawn was out exploring the area around the enclosure and browsing on lots of new foliage. Her two companions took a little more time, but they too were out and about within a half hour. The first few days all three fawns stuck together near the enclosure, but with each passing day they explored more territory. On the first night of their release the fawns encountered their first buck – a young one with tiny antlers. He must have thought that he won the jackpot to have found a harem while the other bucks were away.
In early November, we spied an older white-faced buck with a huge rack watching over the three fawns. A few mornings later, my husband saw all three fawns contentedly grazing among five bucks. Much to our delight, the fawns appear most mornings and evenings enjoying their new freedom in a safe and peaceful place that welcomes them.
By Kathy S.