Friday, 30 April, 2004
Don't mess with Mom!
Never doubt that a doe will protect her fawn. It's that time of year again. Debra and I had been watching a particular pregnant doe hanging around the house for a few days. We were hoping to witness the birth and maybe get a few pictures. We were mowing the lawn this evening (rain is forecast for the next couple of days) and Charlie was out running around the yard. I looked up from what I was doing and saw him playing one of his favorite games: running along the fence barking at the deer. Except this time things were a little different. One of the deer charged straight at him, turned quickly as she neared the fence, and kicked out with her back feet. Charlie's lucky she didn't come any closer. At this point I stopped the mower to watch.
The deer ran off a few paces and turned around. While she and Charlie were having a stare-down I noticed that this was our formerly pregnant doe who, from the blood on her back legs, I would say had only recently given birth. The way she was behaving, I suspect that she was purposely leading Charlie away from where she'd left her fawn. What happened next took me completely by surprise. Charlie was barking and carrying on, trying to get the deer to run. He turned his back on the doe, probably headed to the middle of the yard where he'd turn around again and charge at the fence. He hadn't taken more than a few steps when the doe charged, sailed over the fence and headed straight for him. He started running when he heard her leap the fence and for about 15 seconds that doe stayed right on his heels, even trying to stomp him with her front hoof. If Charlie had stumbled at all he would have been seriously injured or killed. At this point I chased the deer off, collared Charlie, and locked him up in the house.
I don't know if Charlie realized that the doe was trying to hurt him or if he thought she was playing chase. When we let him out a few hours later he went back to chasing the deer, although he seemed to be a bit wary of that one particular doe. She was standing guard, too. She always managed to regain his attention whenever he'd head off somewhere else. I had always heard about a mother's "protective instinct," but this is the first time I'd ever seen it up close and personal. Believe me, there is something to it. The only other time a deer will stand still when Charlie comes running is rutting season. The bucks will stand their ground for a little longer, but even then they scamper off before Charlie gets within range.
Don't mess with Mom!