Alsheimer: One Tough Mother – The Whitetail’s Protective Instincts

By Charles J. Alsheimer

Summer is going by quickly and healthy young deer are growing fast. Now in early August, Northern fawns can weigh 40 pounds or more and travel with their mother wherever she goes. This is a time of exploration for them. Since they have become stronger and more independent, fawns spend a lot of time attempting to socialize with almost every deer they encounter – which can sometimes cause problems for their mothers.

Though fawns can survive on their own by Aug. 1, their mothers are still very protective. If a mature doe feels stressed or threatened by a buck, she will not hesitate to show her dominance by threat-walking, or even fighting with her hoofs.

Alsheimer Deer and Deer Hunting

Even as fawns grow larger and stronger, does continue to be protective of them throughout the summer and into the fall. (photo copyright Charles J. Alsheimer)

I took this photo shortly after dawn during the first week in August. When this buck tried to approach the doe’s fawn she went into her version of a threat walk to get him to leave. Though the buck initially reacted defensively – the doe’s aggressive behavior caused him to back off and leave.

Once velvet peel takes place most does will no longer threaten bucks that attempt to interact with their fawns. As fall fades into the long winter months, fawns will become much more adept at taking care of themselves even though they spend most of their time with their mother.

– Charlie

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