Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Fawn Nursery

Years ago our family tent-camped at Slough Creek Camp Ground in Yellowstone.  It is a primitive camp ground in north end of the park, where wildlife is abundant, up close, and personal.  That particular summer in the Slough Creek area, it was a regular fawn nursery.  Does brought their fawns right up to the bank across from our tent, and while my husband fished,  the little girls and I spent hours watching the babies play and nurse while their moms browsed and occasionally cleaned a baby.  This is one of my fondest memories of camping when our kids were small.

Our daughters are grown now and living their own lives, but sometimes moments bring back those old memories, and it seems like only yesterday we were squealing stifled glee at seeing all those fawns with the moms within yards of us.  The trigger for this memory is an abundance of fawns in our backyard this summer. 

I mentioned in another blog entry that we lost our long time pet that guarded the yard and apparently scared deer away.  As a result of losing Tucker, we see so many more bucks, does, and fawns within yards of the house as they browse and drink out of the creek at the base of the yard.  When I wake up each morning, I look forward to what kinds of Wild America adventures I will find in my own backyard that day.

Keep in mind, these are wild animals with delicate noses, as well as sharp ears and eyes.  Because these deer must stay on alert to survive, they don’t hang out in the back yard when I am out gardening or sitting on the back porch.  That is too much human contact for their comfort—as it should be. 

My contact with them requires some pretty still watching from the dining room window that overlooks the back of the house down to Big Creek.  These creatures are so on guard that too much movement or noise even inside the house, believe it or not, will spur a dash up the bank to hidden safety. So, even in the house, I have to move slowly and make sure my camera is not making beeping sounds to put the deer on watch.

This morning, I began the day watching a fawn nurse as his mom browsed the banks of the creek.  She was eating while her baby fed, and then she gave him a thorough cleaning before they dashed up the hill.  Later, I walked by the window while I was dusting, and young buck stood half hidden in tall grass.  I got a good look at him, but he was wary of the beep of the on button of the camera so I missed my shot.

Later, another young mom brought her singleton fawn to the creek to scamper about and get a drink.  She had another fawnless doe with her, and I got a few shots of them as they stayed right below the house for twenty minutes or so.

I thought I’d been as lucky as I was going to get regarding fawn watching when I looked out the bathroom window to see another doe with twins wading the creek and nibbling greens.  These babies seem a bit older than the others I watched this morning, and they were very playful as they leapt and splashed in the slow moving summer stream.  They were so brave that they got too far toward the house, and mom came after them to shoo them back into the water.

While my own girls may be grown and our memory of that day at Slough Creek Campground is distant, these moments watching fawns out my own window compress time and make it seem like it is not so long ago in the past.  I have learned to keep the camera on the table to capture these memories to share when my own girls and grandbaby come to visit.

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