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Fashion Faux Pas

Posted: October 24, 2016

Wearing white after Labor Day maybe an archaic rule from a century ago, but tell that to Mother Nature.
Click for larger image

Click for larger image

It is the season of the trail cam.  Unless you are a researcher using trail cams to collect data, or a hardcore trail cam fanatic, most trail cams don’t get deployed until September. 

Antlers are hard, velvet is shedding, and coats are turning over.  Red coats are longer in fashion.  Gray-brown is what everyone who’s anyone is wearing in the deer world. 

And those white spots – they are so last summer.  A deer shouldn’t be caught dead in them now…or they may actually end up that way.

A fawn with spots in October is not uncommon but seeing one is.  Photos like this pop up every year from somewhere.  I once saw a fawn with spots in March!  Now that’s rare. 

These little guys are at a disadvantage.  Like Serial Mom, Beverly Sutphin, Mother Nature is a strict adherer to the no-white-spots after Labor Day rule.  Whitetails on the Gulf Coast balk at this rule with a fawning season that is stretched out over a 5-month period.  But here, Mother Nature’s enforcer, AKA winter, keeps this rule very much in play.  

Over 80% of does in Pennsylvania are bred over a 6-week period by the first week of December.  This ensures that most fawns are born by the end of June.  With spring in full swing, there is plenty for mom to eat to support her growing offspring.  After 10 weeks, fawns are responsible for feeding themselves.  A late May/early June birthday allows fawns (and their moms) to pack on some pounds and change out of those white spots before the fashion police make their rounds in September.  

The probability of a fawn being born after August 2nd is 2%; after August 13th it drops to 1%.  So 2 of every 100 fawns are actually born in late summer. 

Late fawn

Given the millions of does bred in areas with distinct seasonal climates that means there are probably thousands of fawns born each year in August or later.  But the odds are not good for these trend setters.  Beverly Sutphin and the fashion police don’t take kindly to those pushing the envelope of style and neither does Mother Nature and winter.  

They will see that this rule breaking is corrected, one way or another.  It really depends on the mood of the enforcer.  A mild or “short” winter may give these fawns a free pass.  If winter decides to rule with an iron fist…well, let’s just say they won’t be breaking that fashion rule again.  

-Jeannine Fleegle
Biologist
PGC Deer and Elk Section

 

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