Caring for and Healing the Earth

Wild Animals & Birds

The Fawn Who Was in the Wrong Place

by Cindy Kamler

(Note: This is a story written for children, taken from an actual wildlife rehabilitation case. Cindy has been a rehabber for 12 years.)

A young mule deer lived on the open hills above the town. There she grazed on the golden grass and ate acorns from the live oak trees. Sometimes, she and the other deer would slip into people’s yards at night. They would eat roses, apples, and green, juicy grass. But tonight was different. The doe would soon give birth to a tiny fawn. She had never had a baby before. She knew she must find a place where her baby would be safe. She looked and looked. This place looks good, she thought. There is a roof to keep out rain and dew. There are walls to shelter my baby from the wind. It is dark and quiet. The mother deer lay down in the place she had chosen. A few hours later, she gave birth to a tiny male fawn. Someday, she thought proudly, he will be a handsome buck with fine antlers.


The doe washed her baby's spotted coat with her rough tongue until he was clean and warm. In a short time, he could stand up and take his first drink of his mother's milk. When his stomach was full and round, the fawn curled himself in a ball, closed his eyes, and fell sound asleep. Just before sky began to lighten, the doe left her baby and went back to the nearby hill. During the daylight hours, the mother deer would browse on the golden grass. She would doze in the warm sun. She would not return to her fawn until dark. Until he heard his mother call, the fawn would not move or make a sound. He would stay curled and quiet. This may seem strange to us, but it is the way of the deer world.

A woman was on her way to work. She drove into the parking garage and parked. She got out of her car and walked toward the street. The woman stopped and stared in surprise. In a little nook, close to the opening, she saw the baby fawn. In the grass or bushes, he would have been invisible. But his golden coat with white spots stood out against the gray concrete. The little buck didn’t move or make a sound. The woman knew the fawn was not in a safe place. Why did his mother leave him there, she wondered. Soon there would be many cars and people coming and going and the baby deer would be very frightened.

She remembered that there was a place in town where people took care of wild animals who were hurt or lost. The wildlife center will help him, she thought, and went to call them. All this time, the little fawn held very still and didn’t make any noise. He was frightened and wanted to call for his mother but he kept quiet. He opened his soft dark eyes just a bit so that he could see. The little buck watched the woman in the red dress and noisy shoes go away.

In a little while, the woman in red returned with another woman. The second woman was dressed in the color of his mother's coat. Her voice was soft and her shoes were quiet. She carried a big square box in one hand and a large green towel in the other. The woman walked slowly toward the frightened fawn. She talked to him softly, telling him not to be afraid. The new-born fawn didn't understand her words, but her voice made him feel a little better. The towel dropped over his curled body. Suddenly it was dark. The baby deer felt hands bundle him in the cloth and gently pick him up. He was scared and let out a cry. He just couldn't help it. The wildlife caretaker put the fawn in the carrier and set it in her car. The fawn lay quiet and still. He felt himself moving and heard strange noises all around him. He could smell a lot of different smells. He was very frightened. When his mother came to look for him, he would be gone.

After what seemed like a long time, the fawn felt his box being lifted. He was set down and the box was opened. He looked out and discovered that his box was inside a bigger box. The walls were shiny and the floor was covered with something soft. Underneath it was a pad which was warm, like his mother's body. Daylight and fresh air came into the box through bars in the ceiling. The young fawn could smell a lot of different animals nearby, but none of them smelled like his mother. He was still frightened but he was very tired. Curled on the warm blanket, the baby deer fell asleep.

The little buck awoke, his heart thumping. One of the walls of the cage was open. The woman with the gentle hands reached in and put him back in the smaller box. Once more, he felt himself picked up and carried. Again he heard the sounds of the car and the street. His box was lifted and set down. The box was opened and careful hands took him from the carrier. He felt his tiny hooves touch the ground. Wobbling on his slender legs, the fawn looked around. He had been here before! This was the very spot where his mother left him. The baby buck could smell his mother's scent all around him. His heart filled with hope. She would come for him! Quickly he lay down and curled into a gold-and-white ball. In the now-deserted garage, the volunteer from the wildlife center hid in her car. She watched the tiny fawn. Daylight turned to dusk.

Suddenly, a sound like a whistle came from outside and the fawn raised his head. The woman looked and saw the doe standing a few feet away. The doe called again. All fear left the little fawn. His heart was full of joy. His mother had come back for him! He stood up and went to her as fast as his unsteady little legs would go. His mother bent her head and touched him with her black velvet nose. The female mule deer smelled strange odors on the fawn, but his smell was familiar. This was her baby! She licked his head gently, and then nudged him. The fawn understood and quickly began to nurse. Oh, how wonderful to have a tummy full of warm milk, he sighed. Already the little fawn’s legs felt stronger and didn’t wobble quite so much. When his mother turned and walked toward the trees, he trotted happily behind her.

From her car, the wildlife volunteer watched with a happy heart as the doe and her fawn faded into the shadow of the trees. She knew that soon the mother and baby would be on the hillside, lying in the golden grass. Together.


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