Momma and Gus

by ....RaeDi

The first time I noticed his bumps… a buck not a doe….

The second short in the series about the little fawn that has taken our hearts….

© 2010 ….RaeDi

Momma and Gus were regular visitors all winter long here at Hummingbird Hollow.  I could not help but think of Gus when he was ‘Gaiety’ and see how much he has changed since spring of last. Then he would dance in place, he could not sit or stand still, he was always so full of life and loved showing it.   His legs are a lot longer and his neck thick and strong, it is now very obvious that he would be a strapping buck by the end of his second summer.

His bumps that appeared last summer, his the true identity marker, are at the present horns of a couple of inches on his forehead and I am sure will grow to at least one fork this season.  It is hard to believe a year has gone by from the first time that I watched him kicking up his heels, he was only a few days old.  He is now a yearling; he is not as active this spring, as he was at about this same time last year.  His arrivals and departures with Momma are very quiet and reserved.    Gus nowadays is very sensible and precise about his movements and is more guarded.

A few weeks ago when Momma and Gus showed up it was the first sign that something was about to change.  Momma was ignoring Gus, no matter what he tried to do to get her attention; she just would not acknowledge his presence.  Then when she turned, I knew why, she wanted him to move on.  She was with fawn and looked to be due in a few weeks.  She did not want Gus to be with her when she gave birth, she was trying to separate herself from her son for the new addition, and with her actions and attitude, she was telling him to move on.

They had been so close, never without the other and Gus was soon to learn a new fawn would be taking his place.  This is nature’s way.  Momma had taught Gus all about living and surviving.   She had been a good mother.  However, with this new arrival coming soon it meant that it is time for the young buck to strike out on his own.

About a week later I saw Gus out in the clearing, Momma was nowhere to be seen.  He was not himself; he looked so lost and wary.  He was more safeguarded than his usual self.  He was looking and hoping to see his Momma.    He looked so disheartened and glum.  It was such a difference from the young buck with the personality plus character always so happy with life.   His disheveled look showed how dejected he truly felt.  Every noise brought full attention; I could see he was hoping it would be his Momma.

Taking a second look at Gus, I saw that he was and would be a strong buck and he would be taking his rightful place in nature as a lone buck living on the outskirts of what he had always known.   He would learn to live in isolation; it is nature’s way of him becoming the someday-solitary head buck of this peninsula.  He would be a strong contender if his stance and physical size have anything to do with it.  He was well on his way.  Gus would make it, his Momma made sure he would be ready and that he is.

I had been keeping an eye out for Momma to return and maybe bring with her the new fawn.  It had been over a week since my last sighting of Gus.  I wondered how each was doing and where they were.  They had been such a part of my life this past year.  They came through the property daily, sometimes several times a day.

Then without any notice, I saw Momma through the row of Rhododendrons.  I waited quietly and then she came into full view with her little fawn.  It could not be over a few days old.  The little one was still getting use to standing on its little legs with such petite ankles.  It was a little shaky on all fours, but for its size, it was an impressive little one and was keeping up with Momma.  The white spots were so striking and then what did I see, but another, she had twins.  They are so cute, identical little fawns with the same stance and bright white spots.  I could not take my eyes off of their little black button noses and big ears.  They turned and I could see their perfect little tails which were in constant wag.  They were flawless little images of their Momma and they looked just like Gus as newborns.  They were meeker than Gus had been at birth; they seem docile in comparison, each showed a quietness with nature, and were probably easier to handle than Gus had been from his early days.

Similarities and differences of these twin fawns and the yearling would all soon show light as to what would distinguish each from the other.   I am sure that there will be noticeable differences in personalities and character, nature’s way of balance.  The twins stayed right next to Momma, in fact most of the time they would not get further away than one ear still touching Momma’s side.  They were studying me as much as I was studying them.    It was going to be a good summer, one filled with getting to know the new fawns.

I hope that Gus comes through occasionally to let me see how he is doing.  I am sure that he will keep an eye on Momma and the new fawns ~ from a distance of course.

Here it is late in the summer and fall just around the corner.  It is hard to believe that we are headed into autumn.  I have been in and out all summer long but have had fleeting glimpses of the twins and Momma this summer, as often as I was home.  Their spots have completely faded and they have grown so much.  Momma taught me something new this summer that with twins she had to mother them differently from the start. She would quiet often leave one in the corner of my backyard, where the apple trees grow, it is very private and sheltered.  Some days she would be gone for hours before coming in to check on the fawn.  Other times early in the morning when daybreak was just starting to show colors over the Cascade Mountains I would see one of the fawns bedded down in the Rhododendrons.  The sun colors were faded before Momma and the other fawn showed up.  I realized that she did this purposely so the twins were not always together.  They had a much better chance that at least one of them would survive their first year.  There are so many things here that could (and do) kill the little ones.  We have the black bear, bobcats, cougars, and coyotes to name few.

Momma has brought her family though with their comings and goings for several summers and I hope that she continues to share her family for years to come.   It is a real treat and she has taught me so much.

I was out on one of my walks in the woods a few days ago and came across Gus, boy has he grown this summer.   My sightings of this young buck I feel are coming to an end.  He has grown very solitary as should be.  I was filled with pride as I took a good look at him from his horns that had forked since the last time I laid eyes on him to his thick neck and well-formed stance.  He stopped and took a good long look at me as I watched him take off as he cleared the dense thicket with no trouble. He stopped at the top of the clearing with the fading colors of the day ending at his back as we both took one last look at each other, knowing this was probably our last encounter.  This walk was one without camera in hand but I have put to memory the picturesque scenery and a buck I shall not forget.

Pictures of Momma and the twins, born spring of 2010.  I do not take many pictures of them, they feel safe with us around, but we do not get close to them.   We want them to stay wild; it is safer for them as such.   Taking pictures can and sometimes does spook them. So what few shots I get are not always good quality.   Good enough to  watch them grow and to  share what is a part of our lives. Nature at its best….