Last week we were covered up with reports of lone fawns walking about looking lost and forlorn. This is one of the surest signs of the breeding period of the rut. If you see a lone fawn or maybe a pair of fawns, chances are momma is off with a big buck somewhere breeding. Bucks can get very aggressive with estrus does which generally results in fawns being separated from momma.

A buck will often stay with an estrus doe for 2-3 days. During that period, her fawns are often seen wandering around solo. They will feed alone or with other fawns in fields and food plots and sometimes will be seen running around bleating to find adult does. Once the breeding is complete, the family unit will reunite and all will be back to normal (See more fawn facts here).

Some rut watchers key in on does without fawns as a sure sign of the biological rut, but that can be misleading. Not all does bear fawns, and of those that do, many never survive the summer and early fall. A lone doe can mean almost anything.

That’s why identifying lone fawns is a more reliable indicator. But fawns are a little tricky to identify in the fall, especially with no momma in attendance. Size is a key giveaway. The average weight of a fall fawn will be about 70 pounds and a doe in most parts of the country will easily top 100 pounds. This is a pretty good size differential. But, when you don’t have an adult doe around to compare a fawn to, it makes identification a little tougher, especially when a set of twins are seen together. The best bet is to look at the head and face. Fall fawns still have short snouts and rounded domes between the ears. Adult does have “flat tops” and elongated snouts. Button buck nubs are often noticeable on fawns as well.

Of course, hunting season creates it’s share of orphans, but if you are dialed into your deer herd, you should have a good sense of the how many does have been taken on the property.

For more information on identifying and hunting the rut, consult Whitetails: From Ground to Gun