Outdoors: Watch closely, now is the time to see baby animals

Now is the time to see some newborn animals.

When it comes to deer, mid-May was the one time that I saw a doe that had just given birth. The doe was back in the brush, and the newborn fawn was right along the roadway. Possibly too young to be afraid of intruders.

Although does are smart, they normally raise their young in very safe places. Bears prefer forests, and in study areas many does summered in farmland where it is easier for their fawn to escape bears. In the fall, they returned older and larger fawns to the forested area. In addition to bedding newborn fawns in safer places, does may only return to feed them a few times a day so predators have fewer chances to follow them to their young.

As a result, I did some research.

In a study which wrapped up in late 2017, biologists wanted to find out if an expanding coyote population might be taking a toll on deer in certain states. Results were compared to other states done on a two-year basis. The results found that although more predation was ongoing, fawn survival in larger deer herds was about the same.

There was no evidence that predators were taking too many fawns in many of the management units. Most states all have a stable or growing whitetail populations.

Predation was the No. 1 cause of fawn mortality in studies where states had a large bear population. It was found that bears took more fawn than coyotes did.

In some southern states, the study found that 83 fawns were collared. Bears took 18 of them, coyotes got eight and bobcats two. Unidentified predators took five. In the southern study areas, bears took five fawns, coyotes six, bobcats five and unknown predators two.

If predation on fawns ever does become a problem biologists note that reductions in antlerless deer permits should be an adequate response to conserve deer populations. This has not been a problem in Illinois.

In fact the state still is going with the culling program.

Hunting report

Again, fewer wild turkeys were taken during the 2021 season. Many seasoned hunters reported not even seeing any birds during all four seasons. Where have the birds gone? I don’t have a clue. Areas along the Illinois River used to host a large population of turkeys, but not this year. Is it a food problem or predation? I welcome any logistics.

Fishing report

The cooling-lake action has taken a dip. The large population of nice bluegills has scattered. Probably the result of very warm water, 97 degrees plus. Catfishing still is good, but many of the fish are very small.

The Illinois and Fox rivers have started to come alive. Some good catches of smallmouth and white bass have been realized above Ottawa. Catfish now are spawning.

• Fred Krause is a Shaw Media correspondent.

Fred Krause

Fred is an avid outdoorsman who has been writing about his passion for decades.