People sometimes ask me why I wrote a novel that involved deer when I’m not a hunter. Well, I live among lots of deer. LOTS of deer. This is usually wonderful. Except when they munch on my pretty growing things as if they were potato chips. But also, when Mother Nature shows her dark side.
A week ago, on Memorial Day, I discovered a tiny fawn curled up under our back porch. This little creature was adorable. Seriously adorable. Since I know that mommy deer hide their precious bundles in secluded areas until the babies are stronger, I was not concerned. I’ve discovered lots of newborn fawns under our porches, in our gardens, and under trees. Our yard is sort of a deer nursery.
Later on that Monday evening, though, I had a bad feeling. The fawn’s mom had not come to fetch her baby. The little one started on its own wobbling spindle legs toward the woodsy area behind our house—where a herd of deer sleep at night. Part of me was glad the fawn was going into deer territory, but my inner alarm was going off. Where was mom?
The next morning, I was on the lookout for a doe with “our” fawn. But I found no doe and no fawn. Hoping mom and baby had reunited in the woods and all was well (other than mom staying out partying too late), I left to work on my latest novel. Hours later, I returned home to find the fawn curled up in our garage, on the mat in front of the door to the house. Now I knew that the poor baby was in trouble. Upon the advice of my veterinarian, I called Antler Ridge Wildlife Sanctuary for advice. Minutes after this call, I was lifting the fawn into a towel-lined laundry basket. Minutes later, I was driving this little deer to the sanctuary.
For most of the trip, the fawn was flicking its tail and ears and looking around, seemingly and amazingly calm, ever adorable. But two minutes before I pulled into the driveway of the sanctuary, the baby dipped its head down, resting its nose upon the towel it lay on. I was hoping with everything I had that my fawn was only napping. But I knew. Somehow, I just knew that the fawn had passed away quietly.
The wonderful folks at Antler Ridge Wildlife Sanctuary ( http://www.antler-ridge.com/ ) examined the fawn nonetheless. They told me the deer was a girl about two weeks old despite having the gaunt and spindly look of a newborn. This, along with a faint smell coming off of her, and a few other symptoms, indicated that she was sick. Very sick. Fawns are not supposed to have a scent. And this sickness was probably why, I was told, her mother had left her. This is nature’s way, a kind veterinarian explained to a very sad me. This, I thought, is the dark side of Mother Nature.
For the next few days, I noticed a solitary doe wandering and grazing in our back yard and near the porch where the fawn had been. And I wondered if that was the girl-fawn’s mom. Maybe she had placed her baby near our house in the hope that the fawn would be better protected from predators. Maybe mom didn’t abandon her totally, but was checking on her now and then. Or, maybe the writer in me needed to make up a story with a happier ending.
I was broken-hearted over the loss of the fawn. And at first I thought it ironic that after writing Buck Fever, I should be a part of this situation. But then I thought, not ironic--appropriate.