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Deer Crew Diaries - Entry 71

Posted: June 15, 2017

Hanging on for those last few catchable fawns

[Comments in brackets are by Jeannine and Duane]

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From the Northern Crew:

We are now starting to encounter larger, older fawns who have proven well-equipped to outrun our crew. Because fawns are getting older, they are becoming more aware of their surroundings and are no longer bedding down in response to danger.

Consequently, our week started off with many high speed chases. Some of us wound up falling and sliding down the steep Susquehannock mountainside or running full-steam across a creek and face planting in the water. These pursuits have shown the not-so-glamorous side of fawn capture. 

A few days ago, Sean, Luke and I bleated at a doe that showed a strong maternal response so we decided to foot search the area. Luke spotted the fawn bedded about 5 yards from us. The fawn instantly popped up and took off like a bullet through the woods. The chase ended after we lost sight of it in dense saplings. fawn weighing

What most was most surprising was the fawn’s massive size. It was at least four times larger than the fawns we had previously captured and it felt more like chasing an elk calf through the woods. [Fawns grow quickly and can gain up to 0.5-lb/day!]

Despite our crazy pursuits where the fawns often came out victorious, our week ended with 3 new fawn captures. All were caught with the nifty fawn nets which will most likely be needed for any future captures. 

We also had one mortality most likely due to predation by a bear. Only an ear and a few bone fragments remained at the scene along with large amounts of bear scat. Future DNA and necropsy will more accurately determine the culprit. Our crew had many bear sightings this week with one tagged bear spotted about 100 yards from a doe.

We are waiting on one more VIT expulsion. Next week will be our last official week dedicated to fawn capture. 

-Jackie and Alec
Northern Crew
PGC Deer and Elk Section

 

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From the Southern Crew:

Hello all,

We captured 11 fawns this week!

Five Juniata college students, their professors, and a volunteer joined us this week to help search for fawns. Chris, Bret and Wyatt (Regional Biologist) also assisted this week. 

Avery and Steve (volunteer) had a textbook capture using the call. The doe responded and went straight over and peaked into some brush, then ran away. They searched the brush and found a fawn! 

I had a doe and fawn run out onto the road in front of me while doing locations. I watched them for a bit and before I knew it, the doe was standing all alone. I figured the fawn must have bedded down. I decided not to disturb the area, marked a location from the road, and give the coordinates to my crew to check out the next morning. I knew he would be too much for me to handle alone.

netted fawnIt was about 17 hours later when Avery and Amber arrived. I assumed they thought I was crazy for sending them to this location and I probably was. Regardless, there was a doe standing nearby. They searched and found the fawn. 

Yay! That was luck. [We like to call it skill and experience]

Given the warm and dry ending to the week, many hay fields were due to be cut. I received several phone calls from concerned farmers that asked us to walk their hay fields before they cut.  We captured three new fawns while searching some of these fields. Unfortunately, we couldn’t get to them all and heard of some unfortunate accidents. 

hay field trails

Hay field trails searching for the lucky ones

We had three mortalities this week. Two of the carcasses had puncture marks, but were not consumed. The other carcass looked untouched from the exterior.

On another note, I saw a bear in Pleasant Gap this week!

The peak fawning period will be coming to an end. We aren’t quite ready for it to be over, especially since the 1-2 day old fawns are the easiest to work with! 

-April
Field Crew Leader
PGC Deer and Elk Section

 

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