It was late spring last year – Jim (my husband) and I pulled into our driveway when we noticed a mother doe and what appeared to be, her newborn fawn. It was such a beautiful nature moment, so much that I continued to look at both animals as we continued down our long driveway. Then I noticed, the mother seemed somewhat bewildered, as though she was attempting to relay a message – my human interpretation. I mentioned this to Jim while he was yet driving, before he could park the car…the mother doe had abandoned her fawn. In amazement, I said, “The mother just ran off!”
Neither one of us entered the house, as our investigative spirits were on! We didn’t know if the fawn was injured or if something else had happened. Jim decided to walk near the field in an attempt to look for the fawn in the lot next to ours. The grass was pretty high, which made the area secluded. He walked slowly looking for the baby animal along beside the high grass. Within minutes, the fawn wobbled out of hiding and began walking next to Jim…this was too cute. Jim then was able to confirmed that it was indeed a newborn fawn. We referred to it as “she”…although we had no clue of its gender.
Nature friends (as we call them ) visit us on a regular basis and often sleep right outside the front door. Throughout the year we are blessed with the presence of wild turkey and deer. Upon our usual arrival, the deer lightly run to the vacant field and watch us as we head into our home and continue their business. So for us to view what we assumed was abandonment was unusual. This was also the first time that either of us had seen a newborn fawn within hours of its birth.
Our first year here, we found the carcass of a new born fawn in our yard (torn), that experience heightened our concerned for this new fragile creature. Within 20 minutes, I felt it was important to call animal control. Jim in the mean time, cleared one of the old fenced-in areas in the back yard – removing the high grass, branches and other debris – we wanted to protect the animal. He then gently carried the baby to the safe cleared spot. We both felt that it was our duty and privilege to guard the young life now in our care.
Our new little friend was safe and fenced in; however, it seemed to prefer being closest to the leaves and branches that remained in its surrounding. Jim asked me if we had any milk, to which I replied, “Yes, evaporated milk, but no bottles”.
At my motherly suggestion, he immediately left to go and purchase a couple of baby bottles – we both assumed that the fawn needed to feed – human thinking. In the meantime, I made several calls to animal control and researched other possible outlets of rescue on the internet to no avail. I was referred numerous times via voice messages to a least 5 other places, including the sheriff’s department. I left our number with several offices in hopes of someone calling us soon.
When Jim returned with the bottles I tried to feed the fawn, “she” wasn’t having it (although I did not know if it were male or female). After several attempts I didn’t force things. I spoke to “her” as best as I could in an effort to comfort “her”, “We’re just humans trying to help you, it’s going to be OK.” The baby simply curled in its seeming preferred place…closer to the high weeds that remained.
It was after 10:00pm when the rescue response call finally came in. Mary, the caller on the other end (not her real name) was hesitant to call due to the late evening hour, but took a chance. During the call, we learned that Mary had an animal sanctuary. Jim repeated the aforementioned story to Mary, who seemed to scold him for taking the fawn from the place where its mom had left it. She also instructed him to “think about it”, regarding my failed attempt to feed the baby animal milk -“It could have caused some serious infections or put the fawn at risk by becoming dependent on humans for food. Humans often interfere with good intentions, when in fact they’re placing the animal in harm’s way.”
The lessons from nature were invaluable that night – after a doe gives birth, she nurses her young and permits it to rest in a secluded place of safety, she then leaves and seeks a place of rest and nourishment for herself. The mother is not too far away and will eventually return. Mary’s further instructions, “Leave the animal to nature for its best chances of survival”. As I listened to Jim’s response to Mary, it was clear by his questions and comments that he was quite humbled, appreciative and educated. He later said that her tone changed after his response. Before ending their call, Mary instructed Jim to release the fawn from the fence, and return it to place where its mom had left it.
We were yet concerned for the fawn, as it was dark outside – very dark and nearing mid-night. Regardless, Jim followed Mary’s instructions. Within 10 minutes, Mary’s words rang true, the mother deer returned! It was a sight to see – the perfect ending to a beautiful story…mother and fawn were reunited.
Lessons from nature – every living creature potentially evolves in an environment of challenges suited for its optimum development. Our well-intended intervention could have interrupted the natural process for learning the basics of survival and independence.
Another lesson learned.
Eye of Storm Photography