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Fawning and the Success of your Herd


Fawns are well hidden

Fawns are well hidden

As June hits full steam ahead, more and more landowners, managers and whitetail hunters are scouring the woods looking for signs of fawning. This time of the year is one of the most important of the entire year. The recruitment rate of fawns is the future of your herd for years to come. One poor year in recruitment spells several years of poor hunting and poor herd health. It’s imperative for landowners and managers to monitor closely the fawning and recruitment of their fawns from one year to the next.

Arguably the best thing we can do is to establish good fawning cover for does to birth. This is best done with established thickets that does can enter and give birth with relatively little exposure. These established close to water and food is even better. These thick fawning areas can be created several ways, including small cutovers, these three to five acre lots will fill up very quickly with briars, seedlings, and the like and make an almost impenetrable mass that does love when their time for giving birth arrives.

Other methods of establishing good fawning cover includes hinge cutting hardwoods, these hinge cuts will fell trees while leaving enough attached to keep the tree alive. This cover is excellent for does searching for great fawning cover. Fallow fields can also be excellent fawning cover; these take longer to get established but can quickly become great cover for does to hide their fawns.

Peeking through the foliage

Peeking through the foliage

As managers of deer herds, it’s imperative that we have some idea what the recruitment rate on our property is. Camera surveys are an excellent manner of doing this. We will look at conducting camera surveys in a few weeks, but now, I am noticing does that are pregnant, and those that seem to have given birth. We are still several weeks away before we will begin seeing fawns at feed stations in front of our cameras, but everyone should be noted.

New born fawns are excellent at hiding; this makes it difficult for landowners to know where the fawns are. It’s imperative that we delay farming tactics such as mowing, plowing, cutting for a few weeks. Every year I talk to farmers who lament over killing fawns with their hay cutting equipment, combines or harrows. The fawns are taught not to move under any circumstances. This survival tactic will lead to the death of several every year. If at all possible, farmers, landowners and managers should delay the clearing of land, mowing and other land manipulation when possible if it coincides with fawning. Granted, farmers cannot halt their operations because of a few deer, but as hunters who are growing deer for future generations, nothing is more important that giving the fawns a chance to reach maturity.

Lastly, if ever there was a time to target removing predators it is during the fawning season. Hire trappers, learn to trap, do whatever you have to do to get rid of the amount of coyotes roaming across your property. Coyotes are opportunistic feeders and time their whelping to coincide with the fawning to supply plenty of food for their litters. During the early summer, coyotes are feeding heavily to provide for their young. Fawns are easy pickings. If you do not trap at any other time of the year, do so now. For the next several weeks, hit them hard and protect your future and the future of your herd.

Hunters are always speaking about passing on to the next generation the passion and love we have for our sport. Without excellent recruitments of fawns we cannot assure a future. Selective harvest is easy, but the most sure way of improving the quality of your herd is to increase recruitment of your fawns by providing them with the things they need. Cover, food, and protection.