Why and How: Photographing Fawns - Part 1
Have you ever had the opportunity to photograph fawns of deer, roe deer or fallow deer? Annually, during the months of June and July, I have had the chance to search for hinds, does, and goats who are nurturing their fawns and kids. For me, it is a spectacle that is as extraordinary as the rut of the deer.
In this article, I am going to explain some techniques for taking extraordinary pictures of fawns.
The Little Story Behind This Article
My passion for deer started with the rut of the red deer in Europe, especially in France. Ever since I was a child, I have always watched countless television programs on this subject.
For me, photographs of deer were invariably associated with their behaviors during the fall. By being more interested in this species, I learned that although a deer loses its antlers in the spring, they eventually grow back to become velvet antlers once again, in the first phase.
Many years ago, I decided to visit France to photograph red deer with their velvet antlers. One day, as I approached a small clearing hidden in the forest of La Coubre in Charente-Maritime in west of France, I encountered a surprising spectacle.
A doe circled around a fixed point and then stopped from time to time as if she wanted to graze.
There seemed to be nothing unusual in this scene, which I had already photographed many times in the past. However, this doe was not just grazing. She continually circled around the same point.
The grasses were rather tall. I did not understand what was going on. She had not seen me because I was hidden away by the pine trees in the forest. I decided to install my tripod and my camera to capture some pictures.
After an hour of waiting I suddenly saw a little ball of orange hair slowly rise to its feet. It was a red deer fawn. It was a magical and extraordinary moment that I will always remember. He was so frail, so fragile, so small.
It was my first photo session with a fawn. Every year, I look back on this breathtaking moment. I always look forward to dedicating a few days in June and July to photograph fawns.
The Definition of a Fawn
By definition, a fawn is the pup of a deer doe, a roe deer goat, or a fallow deer hind.
Generally, a fawn is a small deer. A deer has an even number of fingers. The males carry antlers.
If it is a male deer, it is called “fawn” from the time of birth until it is six months.
If it is a female, it is called “fawn” from the time birth until it is one year old.
Before Going Further
Before I give you some helpful photographic tricks to photograph fawns, it seems important to explain some behaviors specific to each species. Indeed, for wildlife photography, you will not generally create interesting pictures of animals if you do not have a wide understanding of the behaviors and habits of each species.
Never forget that the secret of wildlife photography is to learn and prepare for the photo session before arriving on the field.
The learning does not stop before the session though. Once you arrive, you must learn to see, listen, smell, and touch the world around you. The wind, the sun, the clouds, the meadows, the trees, the flows, and the marks left by the animals are many natural elements that you must anticipate and use to understand what is happening. Be careful. While in nature, you must always respect the animals. It is under these essential conditions that you will take good photos.
Click on a thumbnail to enlarge the image.
The Birthing Period of Red Deer Fawns
Deer fawns are born from the end of May to the beginning of July.
The red deer doe has a gestation of eight months. The does show during the rut period, which is between the months of September and October. As the slab lasts about eight weeks, the period of birth spans the same length of time.
When born, the fawn weighs between 5 and 8 kg. He remains in bed for a few days then begins to follow his mother. The doe swallows the placental envelope to avoid attracting predators.
The doe suckles the fawn for six months. It is common during the rut period to photograph fawns suckling. A doe can give birth every year or every two years.
The Birthing Period of Roe Deer Fawns
The roe deer hind is a fascinating animal to study, specifically about its reproduction. The hinds are covered during the period of July 15 to August 15. After mating, the female blocks the development of the embryo until the end of December or the beginning of January.
This phase is called the embryonic diapause.
The birth of a roe deer fawn takes place during the months of May and June. At this time of year, food is plentiful. In total, gestation lasts nine and a half months. For four months, nothing happens.
The Birthing Period of Fallow Deer Fawns
The fallow deer rutting season takes place in October and November. The gestation of the doe lasts eight months. Fallow deer fawns are born during June and July when there is plenty of food.