It’s the season of fawns in the U.P.

Karen Wils photo A fawn photo from 1979 taken with the old Kodak camera. The first of many.

ESCANABA — Celebrate!

It’s that wonderful Upper Michigan season of fawns and wildflowers.

Between Memorial Day and the 4th of July, Mother Nature blesses us with a fawn crop.

God plants a garden of the most fragile, fragrant and fantastic wildflowers set to bloom in June and July.

The does start dropping their fawns late in May. From the southern U.P. to the shores of Lake Superior, depending upon last autumns rut cycles, fawns make their appearances mostly in June. Late fawns can be born around the 4th of July.

The Northwoods explode with flowers from the snow-white trilliums to the magenta Lady Slipper orchids in the early summer.

A few million mosquitoes and other insects pop out at this time too.

Fawn and flower watching has been a favorite pastime of mine for over fifty years. When I was single, I’d take a week of vacation time during the first week of June. It was “baby animal” season. Spending a week in the woods with my old fashioned Kodak camera and several rolls of film, I’d see tiny fawns, raccoons, porcupines, ducklings and leverets (hares).

Getting photos of them was pretty tricky before zoom lens, flashes, and digital cameras. Sitting very still and very quiet was the best way to see juvenile wildlife.

I remember the first fawn I ever photographed. I was resting by an old brush pile near camp, when I realized I wasn’t alone. A fawn was resting there too watching me with big eyes.

Over the decades my family and I have been very privileged to watch and photograph dozens of newborn fawns. It’s a joy every year. Some of the little whitetails even got names and we watched them return to out “little hole in the hardwoods” year after year.

The whitetail deer and Yoopers have quite a wonderful relationship. It is hard to think that at one time before the days of logging, the whitetail was not here. The eastern elk (extinct cousin to the Rocky Mountain elk of today) was the prime hooved mammal in Upper Michigan.

When the virgin forests were cleared and new growth began, the whitetail deer expanded its territory to include all of Michigan.

So fawns in the forests and wildflowers of the U.P. are now a way of life.

The forest is an evolving thing. In the last two decades life for the deer has been changing again. In the 1980s, the deer population was very high and so the wolf population swelled.

Now with many more wolves and other big predators (coyotes, cats), the deer are fewer and they are learning to live in a different way than 25 years ago.

More deer are thriving with city limits are near human development. More fawns are born in the safer backyards than in the bush.

The days of Mama Deer parading the fawns across the river on a misty summer morning are a thing of the past. They’re shyer and more wary of becoming standing targets.

But the wild blue flag flowers (wild irises) grow and so do some white flagged fawns.

The columbines and the daisies paint a perfect background and a flocking fawn adds beauty to the picture. Remember to be extra quiet around wildlife now. Give them room and use a zoom.


Karen (Rose) Wils is a lifelong north Escanaba resident. Her folksy columns appear weekly in Lifestyles.


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