Family Life - Deer

Published on: 8/3/2014

The whitetail deer - Odocoileus virginianus - ranged throughout much of Wisconsin during pre-settlement times.  But not in the numbers that are common today.  The great cutover of Wisconsin's northern forest led to a significant increase in deer numbers.  Market hunting that followed contributed to a slump in the population but modern agricultural practices have contributed greatly to a record deer population today.

If you ever watched the movie Bambi you can forget what Disney Productions taught you about whitetail deer families.

A deer family consists of a mama deer (a doe) and one of more children (fawns). There is no dad in the picture so these are all single moms.  This is because deer are naturally promiscuous.  It's hardwired into their genes as a survival mechanism. 

Following a gestation period of seven months fawns are typically born anywhere between April and July.  They're able to stand within a day following birth but typically do not follow mom around until several weeks later.  Fawns communicate with mom with sheep-like bleats or an alarm bawl.  Does communicate with their fawns by means of maternal grunts.

A youngster will stick with mom at least until weaned - ten weeks.  Although it's not at all unusual for a fawn to hang with mom until the doe is bred again in the fall.