May 29, 2009, Yosemite National Park, California
Two mule deer wandered near camp. First came a large red doe whose plump round belly suggested a fawn would soon be born. A smaller deer followed. His short muzzle and the two tiny buttons on his head, where small antlers will sprout this summer, identified him as a yearling male, the doe’s fawn from last year. As the yearling approached the doe she turned and rushed at him chasing him away. Again the yearling cautiously moved along with the doe and as he got close, she chased him off again. Several more times, like magnet to metal, the yearling made his timid attempt to approach the doe. Just as often she rebuffed him. The doe tried to tell the young buck something, but like most children longing for the familiar security of mother, he missed the message. She was about to give birth and during the next several days her new fawn would be extremely vulnerable to predators. The doe needed to find a secluded spot to secret herself and the fawn. The yearling couldn’t be around to attract attention.