Buck Fawn? Apparently Not

by Carl Strang

Deer have not been a consistent presence at Mayslake Forest Preserve this year. Signs indicated that two or three were present intermittently through the first half of the summer, but then were gone. This suggests that the few were bucks, as does generally select a place to raise their fawns, and stay there. Last week I got a glimpse of a single deer, and then on Tuesday a clear look at one.

With just tiny bumps on his head, I was inclined to label him a male fawn. Note the ears oriented to hear from all directions.

But then as I looked at the photos, I had doubts. I went back to pictures I remembered taking at Fullersburg Woods in 2007.

That fawn had barely discernible head bumps, a rounder face, and a smaller body that was shorter in proportion.

With larger body size, a more adult body length in proportion to height, longer nose, and bigger head bumps, Tuesday’s deer must have been an unusual yearling, with practically no antler development. In retrospect he was much more alert and ready for flight than I would expect from a newly independent fawn. With a relatively easy winter and early spring this past year, perhaps the good conditions helped an otherwise marginal animal to survive. He seems strong now, and perhaps will continue to follow a more typical development pattern, just a year behind his cohort.

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