Monday, June 16, 2008

That's the Idea

I didn't know he was there--which is the point.

This morning while on a trail run behind the house, I stopped mid-way down the Sherwood single track to pee. I startled a deer baby whose mama had told him to stay put while she was away getting something to eat.

I walked into the woods, a few feet from the trail and as soon as I squatted down, I saw movement out of the corner of my eye. It was the white-spotted behind of a fawn headed toward the creek, doing that boing-boing gait that is putting the hammer down, deer-style.

When deer mamas need to roam and graze, they camouflage their fawns on the forest floors--sometimes by pushing them down on the ground. The babies don't yet have scent glands, so they can't be smelled by predators, and they somehow know not to move til their mothers return. There are stories of well-meaning people finding them and thinking that the fawns have been abandoned and have four broken legs because they will instinctively keep their legs folded up underneath them--even when picked up by the well-meaning person-- until their mother returns and tells them it's OK to move.

Their white-spotted brown fur blends in completely with the forest floor. Combined with the fact that no one and nothing can smell them, these babies are kept very safe in a sometimes brutal environment. I have only seen one other fawn pile, and it was all I could do not to stop and stare, but I kept walking, and pretended not to notice anything. I may have even whistled...

I didn't see this one, and apparently squatted right down next to it to pee. I like to think that he didn't go far, and that his mother was very close, and when she came back to that place she left him, she didn't have to worry too long before he boinged out of an aspen grove and back to her.

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