While trudging along toward my college degree I needed to find a way to make ends meet so I ended up working at a fairly classy restaurant. One of the tricks the servers would employ to showcase their skills was to “simultaneously drop” all of the entrée plates at the same time. The more customers at the table, the more overwhelming the “drop” seemed. This was all I could think of as a wildlife biologist explained to me the timing of the rut and the resulting drop of fawns.
Although it’s common knowledge that does can come into estrus just about any time in the fall and early-winter, the majority of the breeding occurs in November. This, like so many things in nature, is no accident. Bears, wolves, coyotes, bobcats and a host of other predators turn their attention to newborn fawns as soon as they show up on the scene. This attention results in a fairly high percentage of predator-related fawn mortality, especially in the case of younger does that haven’t learned the best areas to stash their fawns.
So, a rut that burns hot and quick, coupled with nearly-identical gestation periods results in a “simultaneous drop” of fawns in late-May and early-June. The result is that there are so many fawns born at one time that the predators simply can’t keep up. More fawns survive long enough to develop the survival skills necessary to avoid becoming coyote chow.
This is why we go from not hearing about or seeing any fawns to seemingly being covered with them. This is also partially responsible for the amazing hunting found in states like Iowa and Kansas. States that don’t interrupt the major part of the rut with a firearm’s season allow things to occur as nature intended. Of course, the timing of the rut and the resulting crop of fawns also likely has a lot to do with the spring green-up with it’s onset of available foods and lush cover.
Though it’s fun to identify the nearly invisible threads that nature weaves through the entire tapestry of the outdoors, it’s also fun to simply take a walk through the June woods and fields to see if you can run across a fawn or two and simply appreciate them for what they represent at the moment – the future.
By Tony Peterson