Yesterday evening The Girlfriend and I were on the back porch finishing dinner, when we heard a faint crashing through the leaves separating us from the neighbor, something that excited two of the cats. I pegged it as a squirrel, mostly because little else makes that much noise, and stood up for a peek. What I saw, however, was something much larger and lighter-colored than a squirrel, scampering down towards the corner of the property, and I quickly encouraged The Girlfriend to get as good a look as she could because it was a white-tailed deer fawn (Odocoileus virginianus,) and in looking out the back of the property we could see the mother. As we watched, the fawn excitedly blew past its mother, following the little path that serves as a utility right-of-way for the housing development, and I heard the mother emit what is best described as a faint groan as she followed; I am guessing this was a signal for the fawn to halt and hold still, because it did immediately, and the mother moved to catch up. Our view was blocked by a cluster of bushes right alongside, but in moments the fawn appeared to be nursing, and I scampered inside to get the camera.
The door on the porch creaks way too much (or it did at that time – its since been oiled,) so I went out the front door instead and came as silently as possible along the side of the house, long-lens attached and setting the ISO for 1600 to compensate for the failing light of the evening. As I came around, i got a glimpse of the mother, who was looking right in my direction, but I detoured around the shed and greenhouse to see if I could get a clearer view more down the open length of the right-of-way. As I rounded the greenhouse, though, I found they were not alone.
This is full-frame at 600mm – all of these images are. I wasn’t ten meters from this doe, which isn’t the mother, but one that I was unaware was there, hidden as it was behind the shed. And then another, even closer.
A young buck with developing antlers was also back there, and both of them started quickly moving away from me, likely alerting the mother that things weren’t kosher, and I still wasn’t in view of her yet. Trying to be as quiet as possible, I leaned out to find that she was ushering her fawn onwards away from this potential danger.
After moving on a short distance the doe paused, checking around to see if the threat was still present; I wasn’t exactly dressed for deer-stalking and was probably far too visible, to say nothing of the shutter noise which seemed a lot louder than I’d ever noticed before.
I have to note that the deer in the area are not terribly spooky around people, and much earlier that same morning I had to chase two out of the front yard to keep them away from plants that we don’t want eaten; it was harder than it should have been. But the fawn was an additional factor of course.
Eventually they moved onward, not in a panic but, “just to be sure.” Meanwhile, I’m vowing to create a photography stand on the roof of the shed to have a better view out back, which may also serve for knowing when any of the little shits jump the fence to start nibbling on the tomato plants again. There are boundaries…