In the early summer, five different Black-tailed Deer fawns with five different stories arrived at PAWS. Two were found wandering near roads. One became stuck in a fence as she tried to flee approaching humans. One was attacked by a dog. One came with few details other than where he had been found. Despite their varied pasts, after being brought to PAWS these five fawns shared a common destiny—to one day return to the wild life they were born to live.
It took more than five months, but that day did come. On November 14, PAWS Staff and volunteers herded the now sub-adult deer one at a time down a chute and into their waiting transport boxes. Two hours later those boxes were lined up on a remote, forested site and the doors were opened. Two deer immediately made a break for it, while others were a little more timid.
Another deer gathered his courage and ran for it, heading straight at a remotely triggered camera. He was quickly followed by the two deer that are still visible in their boxes behind him.
Some members of the herd were bounding toward the forest, their white-flag tails raised in alarm. They were literally hightailing it out of there.
Others were taking a more cautious approach, pausing to look, listen, and sniff the air before proceeding.
Eventually the five deer began to come together on the edge of the nearby forest. They were still alert, but their tails had come down as their alarm subsided.
Although this was the last time we would ever see these deer, it was really only the first time we had ever seen them in their proper context. They were a far cry from the starving, knobby-kneed fawns we had met five months earlier. They had shed the spots of youth and grown into sleek, muscular athletes.