Ask The Deer Tracker

Posted on September 2, 2014

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September Column

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Editor’s note:  Anyone wishing to send a question for future Ask The Deer Tracker posts can e-mail it to, rgbernier@gmail.com

 

 

 Q. I have seen a number of does with fawns this summer in my fields; some does have two fawns while others only have a single. Is it common for most does to have twins?

  S. S. – Castleton, VT

A. – In an ideal world twin fawns born to each doe would be normal, and for good reason. Each year, approximately 40-to-60 % of all fawn recruitments are lost through a variety of circumstances. These losses are mainly the result of predation, but also occur due to accidents caused by automobiles, tractors haying in fields where the fawns hide during the day, and as harsh as it may seem, simple abandonment from its mother.

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(Although highly unusual, this doe is mom to quintuplet fawns.)

 

By birthing twins the chances of one of the offspring surviving is much greater. A few years back I had the opportunity to photograph two separate does that gave birth to twins. The first doe birthed within 45 minutes of her water breaking and both fawns arrived healthy within minutes of each other. The second doe was not as fortunate. After she went into labor, it took several hours and much effort on her part to birth the first fawn. Nearly three hours later, she breach birthed the second fawn, which did not survive.

If a deer herd’s population density is at or below carrying capacity, and their nutritional plane is being met, there is no reason why younger does should not produce multiple births, averaging the same as older female deer. Stress, be it sociological, nutritional, or biological all play a huge role in the productivity of does and the number of fawns they are able to produce. Keep in mind that 51% of the yearly fawn recruitment is bucks, and if enough does are not harvested annually, the sex ratio gets skewed very rapidly. When there are four or more does for every antlered buck a reduction in reproductive success is experienced.

 

Q. Last fall I tracked a buck from first light until late afternoon. In the process of this chase I managed to jump him six different times. I’d like to tell you that I shot him, but unfortunately that was not the case. My question to you is: Is this normal behavior? Why would the buck allow me to get so close that many times?

                                                                                                                                    M.W. – Greenville, ME

 A. – It is improbable to guess what a pressured buck will do under such conditions. A number of factors could have played a role in this animal’s behavior. First, and the most obvious is that he was tired. The buck could have been on his feet for some time, perhaps chasing does and due to fatigue, needed to lie down. Another explanation could be the results of the animal’s curiosity. Individual deer possess their own unique personality and tolerances. Some whitetails are very timid, while others have a much greater fright distance. And even with these differences, there are some atmospheric conditions that will provoke a normally tolerant deer to bolt with the slightest noise.

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It has been my experience with some bucks that I’ve tracked that they have grown accustom to my constant hounding. Once I jumped them a couple of times, and no harm comes to them, they seem to gain a false sense of security. And when they do dash off, it  is not with the same break-neck speed previously displayed. Usually this cat and mouse game of hide and seek occurs where the brush is dense, and visibility is reduced significantly. By your description of the hunt and the buck’s reaction, it would seem that just enough time elapsed in between interruptions to allow him a chance to calm down.

 

Q. – I bow hunt during the month of September and the constant annoyance of biting insects still exists at this time of year. I hate using bug spray, even those advertised as being unscented. Do you have a solution for this dilemma?

                                                                                                                                     B.T. – Woodstock, NY

 A. I hear you. I not only bow hunt during the early season, but also am out photographing throughout the summer during which these pests can be brutal. Because scent control is important, and I can’t always be down wind, bug spray for me is a last option. The good news for me to report is that I’ve discovered a device that is highly effective in deterring biting insects and emits no odor in the process. It is called thermacell.com.

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 It is a cordless, portable appliance that you ignite with the press of a button, lay flat and within seconds, you’re bug free.

 

 

All images and text on this site are copyright protected and the property of R.G. Bernier

© 2014 R.G. Bernier Nature Photography – All rights reserved.

 

 

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