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, Odocoileus hemionus