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Following last winter's historically significant weather conditions, it's only natural that hunters in the Upper Midwest and Northeast begin searching for some sign of their deer herd's health. Right around now, that usually means fawn sightings. Although anecdotal information abounds, there is very little hardcore evidence available as of yet in order to reach any conclusions about fawn recruitment. And I'm here to tell you not to jump to any premature conclusions.
Right now the fawn crop across most of whitetail country (assuming mid-November breeding) is approximately 1.5 months old. They weigh 15 to 20 pounds and can generally escape most predators. They have been foraging for a month now, but are still eager to nurse. Most fawns are still hanging out in the area where they were born and stashed by momma. For the most part they have yet to venture out to common feeding and socializing areas.with their mothers.
Although it's not uncommon to see a half dozen or more does feeding together with no fawns in sight, don't be too quick to push the panic button. In most cases, fawns are just not venturing out into the areas where does congregate to feed. By next month, the story will likely be decidedly different.
And what if they don't show by late August? By fall roughly 30 percent of the fawn crop will perish, but if you continue to see fields full of does and no fawns, well then the time has come to start cursing about coyotes, bears or last winter. Early September is the time to start counting fawns and computing your fawn to doe ratios (recruitment rates).
So chill out for a month or so or grab a good set of binos or a spotting scope and start checking udders. Counting udders is a good bit tougher than counting fawns but the tale is in the teat.