Montana Outdoors

June 11, 2015

Hiding in plain sight: Mule deer fawn

This time of year when the new young of most animal species begin to appear, it is very common for those of us who live here in western Montana to see the fawns of White tail deer. Not quite so commonly seen are Mule deer fawns, and so it was a treat for me to encounter one today. I left early this morning for a hike up to the old look out on Big Hole Peak, and at about the mid point of the trail I saw a beautiful Mule deer doe ahead of me on the trail and I watched her bounce on up the trail then disappear on the mountainside. After another dozen or so strides I discovered this little fawn which I would guess to be no more than a week or two old.

For many thousands of years an apparently successful escape strategy for fawns is to lie flat on the ground, as flat as they can get, and stay absolutely still, which is what this little one was doing, and because they have no scent at that age predators normally will not find them. Usually this happens in tall grass on a hillside or meadow or among downed timber or other disruptions in the landscape, but when this little fellow went into “hide mode”, it did so right in the middle of the trail. I took a few quick photos and circled far around the little one to continue on up the trail, leaving it undisturbed and still completely motionless. Hopefully, next time this fawn won’t try to hide again in plain sight.

Mule deer fawn (hiding)

Mule deer fawn

Mule deer fawn

Mule deer fawn, Odocoileus hemionus

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55 Comments »

  1. Hi Montucky, What a cutie! I so love seeing young animals. Have an outstanding Friday tomorrow!

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    Comment by wildlifewatcher — June 11, 2015 @ 8:32 pm

  2. lol

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    Comment by pgcpsmess — June 11, 2015 @ 8:34 pm

  3. Such sweet innocence.

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    Comment by wordsfromanneli — June 11, 2015 @ 8:44 pm

  4. We had a whitetail fawn do this while following his mom across the road in front of our car. We stopped the car with the flashers on and carried the little guy off the road to the side his mom was on, and set him gently in the tall grass, then continued on our way.

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    Comment by Kim — June 11, 2015 @ 8:54 pm

    • I’m glad that you did that. I always do what I can to help alleviate the damage that human activity can do to wildlife.

      Like

      Comment by montucky — June 11, 2015 @ 10:01 pm

  5. Incredibly beautiful….wonderful captures, Terry! And what a treasure of an experience…..

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    Comment by seekraz — June 11, 2015 @ 9:02 pm

  6. Adorable! Beautiful shots, Terry.

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    Comment by Jane — June 12, 2015 @ 2:56 am

    • That little fawn was about as cute as they get. It didn’t even move its eyes or blink. What an instinct!

      Liked by 1 person

      Comment by montucky — June 12, 2015 @ 7:03 am

  7. It’s a beautiful little thing but mom needs to find some brush or tall grass.

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    Comment by New Hampshire Garden Solutions — June 12, 2015 @ 3:42 am

    • Well, the trail was where they were when the instinct kicked in. Trails like that were not part of the back country for more than about a hundred years, not nearly long enough for the development of instinct to make changes.

      Like

      Comment by montucky — June 12, 2015 @ 7:05 am

  8. Oh how beautiful! What fantastic photos!

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    Comment by Jo Woolf — June 12, 2015 @ 5:17 am

    • It is an incredibly beautiful little creature, isn’t it!

      Like

      Comment by montucky — June 12, 2015 @ 7:05 am

  9. This is the most adorable version of “stop and drop” I’ve ever seen! Instinct is amazing — did you come back down that same trail, and was it gone? I assume so. What a terrific experience.

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    Comment by shoreacres — June 12, 2015 @ 6:48 am

    • To get past the fawn I walked way around so it wouldn’t be frightened. Yes, it was gone when I came back down the trail about an hour later. I’d bet mom came back just as soon as I had disappeared up the trail. That was the most explicit case of the behavior that I’ve been able to see at close range. I will never forget it!

      Like

      Comment by montucky — June 12, 2015 @ 7:08 am

  10. Oh, wow, what a lovely creature ❤ Thank you so much for sharing this adorable picture!

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    Comment by Lucy — June 12, 2015 @ 7:15 am

    • Fawns are indeed beautiful little creatures and it is a special treat to get so close to one.

      Liked by 1 person

      Comment by montucky — June 12, 2015 @ 8:52 pm

  11. Aw, sweet little thing!

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    Comment by Mama's Empty Nest — June 12, 2015 @ 8:25 am

  12. What a cutie !!

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    Comment by Bernie Kasper — June 12, 2015 @ 12:08 pm

    • It was special for me because I very seldom get close to a mule deer fawn.

      Like

      Comment by montucky — June 12, 2015 @ 8:54 pm

  13. Wonderful photos – what a treat!

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    Comment by derrycats — June 12, 2015 @ 12:57 pm

    • That encounter made the whole hike worthwhile for me. I’d do that any day.

      Like

      Comment by montucky — June 12, 2015 @ 8:55 pm

  14. Great encounter Terry – these are the bonuses of hard work, aren’t they?

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    Comment by iAMsafari.com — June 12, 2015 @ 8:33 pm

    • Exactly. As far as I’m concerned, spending lots of time hiking in the high country pays off very well with encounters like this. I wish more folks could have the experiences.

      Liked by 1 person

      Comment by montucky — June 12, 2015 @ 8:57 pm

      • Agree. Nature is not exclusive – at least in Australia. It is open very everyone to explore and enjoy, but what for most is a problem is a lack of time or a lack of awareness. With a bit of an effort though it can very rewarding – just as you’ve shown!

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        Comment by iAMsafari.com — June 13, 2015 @ 5:48 pm

        • There is a wealth of wild country here too, all in National Forests which are open to anyone at no cost and hundreds of back country trails that are primitive, but basically maintained for foot and horse travel. I will take many hikes in a summer and seldom encounter another person.

          Liked by 1 person

          Comment by montucky — June 13, 2015 @ 9:29 pm

  15. We rarely see mule deer either, but today saw one with its mom – twice! -on our morning walk at Georgetown Lake near Philipsburg, MT. Maybe a bit older than your fawn, it was muley-hopping like a pro.

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    Comment by Kim — June 12, 2015 @ 9:43 pm

  16. How amazing! Talk about being in the right place at the right time…
    Great photos, Montucky!

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    Comment by Sue — June 12, 2015 @ 10:43 pm

    • Exactly; right place at the right time. One of the rewards for spending a lot of time in the back country is encounters like this one..

      Like

      Comment by montucky — June 13, 2015 @ 9:16 pm

  17. What superb images, Terry.
    Such a treat to see this little one in plain sight (as you say).

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    Comment by Vicki — June 13, 2015 @ 2:55 am

    • It was a rare treat for me. I see White tail fawns very often: in fact, every summer we get to see one or two bed down in the clover in our side yard, but seeing a mule deer fawn doesn’t happen very often.

      Like

      Comment by montucky — June 13, 2015 @ 9:19 pm

  18. How was your hike up to Big Hole? Did you encounter much if any snow and is that normal for this time of year?

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    Comment by Anonymous — June 13, 2015 @ 7:19 am

    • The trail was clear, (thanks, I think, to a horseman who sawed out several trees), and in very good condition. There was no snow at all on the peak or even in the big hole below the look out, and that is not normal for this time of year. On June 23 in 2011 I hiked to the look out with a friend and we walked on top of about 4 feet of snow most of the way up.

      Like

      Comment by montucky — June 13, 2015 @ 9:24 pm

  19. That is so sweet …. his eyes … what a nice experience.

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    Comment by Teresa Evangeline — June 13, 2015 @ 7:25 am

    • It was an awesome experience, one that I will never forget.

      Like

      Comment by montucky — June 13, 2015 @ 9:25 pm

  20. What a beautiful little animal, learning what it’s like to be prey. Hopefully, it has a long and happy life.

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    Comment by Candace — June 14, 2015 @ 3:02 pm

  21. Cute! And interesting details about the fawn!

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    Comment by Reed Andariese — June 14, 2015 @ 3:47 pm

    • They are among the cutest babies, aren’t they! The behavior was fascinating to witness!

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      Comment by montucky — June 14, 2015 @ 4:13 pm

  22. ahh, so darn cute. i have been keeping eyes open, but have not seen a fawn or a bear this season.

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    Comment by Tammie — June 15, 2015 @ 2:28 pm

  23. We live in town in Austin, and the other day I saw a white-tailed deer fawn on the front lawn of a house a few doors down the street. Unfortunately I was on my way somewhere and couldn’t go back for my camera. You’re fortunate to have gotten your fawn pictures.

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    Comment by Steve Schwartzman — June 15, 2015 @ 5:09 pm

  24. Génial !

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    Comment by Soizic — June 16, 2015 @ 6:02 am

  25. Poor baby ! Where is his mother ? Awwww he’s so cuuute ! Seeing these wonderful photos made my day 🙂

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    Comment by Jocelyne — June 16, 2015 @ 10:52 am

    • Hi mom was not very far away and went back to him soon after I went on up the trail. The little on never did appear to be frightened: I didn’t stay near him for but a moment. I’m glad that you enjoyed the photos!

      Liked by 1 person

      Comment by montucky — June 16, 2015 @ 12:52 pm

  26. Utterly, utterly beautiful and heart-melting. What a precious memory for you – and great photos too! Here on the edge of the Scottish Highlands I often encounter roe deer, occasionally fallow and red; but it is rare to meet a mother and baby. Last year I did meet a pair suckling on our driveway, and it was only after they moved off that I spotted the fawn’s twin lying motionless in the long grass right beside the car’s wheels. All were fine – they re-grouped once I’d crawled past. 🙂 These encounters have a special magic, don’t they?

    Like

    Comment by dancingbeastie — June 16, 2015 @ 4:33 pm

    • Yes, a very special magic indeed. I feel elated at being able to be, in a very small way, a part of that small wild creature’s experience.

      Like

      Comment by montucky — June 16, 2015 @ 4:47 pm

  27. How charming it is!

    Like

    Comment by Sartenada — June 24, 2015 @ 3:54 am


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