Whether sifting through sand, or scrambling over a rocky shore, it's about finding treasures in every day. 

The Babies Are Here!

Today we saw one of the first fawns of the season! This newborn is on Wrangell Island. Mamma Doe was keeping her baby on the dirt road so that it could get it's new legs all working together.

She jumped off of the road momentarily when we startled her. She turned quickly, jumped back onto the road, and collected up her little one.

Then it was time for dinner.

After which Mom showed the fawn how to clean it's face up.

Mamma Doe turned her back for just one second...

...and the fawn made a break for it.

In it's first act of open defiance the little rascal headed right for the human, and Mom wasn't happy. That fawn was working up a pretty good head of steam with those spindly legs. I had the long lens on, but the fawn looked like it was going to keep coming. I gently scuffed my foot on the gravel. Baby stopped, Mom checked Baby for damage, and then she shot me that look. That "You know what you did!" look.

In the brief gestures of deer language this was pretty emphatic. I've been told! We wanted to get the truck past them safely, though, so I talked in a soft voice and explained the situation. I don't think that deer speak Human, but I do think that they have a pretty good sense of a person's intent. We all walked slowly down the road, me trailing at a fair distance, to find an easy place for Baby to step well off to the side.

What child can resist a mud puddle along the way?

Once the kiddo headed for the brush where there was a steep ditch. Mom Doe knows her territory, and she was having none of that.

The ear tug stopped the fawn in its tracks and it was a little off balance.  Mom gave it a quick supporting shoulder nudge.

This doe is such an attentive and careful mother. She licked her baby often, nursed it twice during our walk, and was firm when necessary.

Just a little further down the road there was a turnoff to the left. I faded right, and the deer walked out onto the side road. My sweetheart started the truck and picked me up. Mamma Doe and her baby stayed there as we drove past, and we smiled.

Wishing you smiles, too,

Alaska Beachcomber

P.S. This determined baby deer is not for petting. Doe's may reject a fawn that has been handled.


Enjoy more Southeast Alaska animals in the Alaskan Critters index.

Bucks in Velvet

Over the course of the summer male deer grow bones out of their head. The boneheads might be on the other end of the rifle, though, having just spent the price of a small car to outfit themselves to go hunt down some free meat.

Okay, I jest.

Hunting season opens soon, and there are guys around here counting the hours. The bucks are still in velvet, haven't really fattened up yet, and the weather is too warm to hang a deer up to age the meat, but that is not going to stop the vast majority of hunters and huntresses interested in some red meat to pack into the freezer for winter. Me included.

This young Sitka blacktail buck (Odocoileus hemionus sitkensis) will be a forked horn if those antlers get a chance to finish growing.

Antlers are the fastest growing bone in the animal world, but our little Sitka blacktail deer here in Southeast Alaska don't have big, heavy, trophy racks like mule deer or whitetails. But then the bucks only average 120 pounds....in the round.

Yearling bucks in Southeast Alaska are usually either "buttons" or "spikes."

This button buck may grow into his ears in a few years.

And when this guy grows up he won't have to take any grief off of his sister.

Twins hang together for a year or more, and sometimes get on each others' case just like kids. But they kiss and make nice, too.

Spikes have two neat little antlers poking out of their head. Usually.

Elliot here is going to have a tough and confusing season.

As those antlers grow under their layer of velvet-covered skin the does become very interesting.

And the chase is on.

I have been seeing bucks and does paired up for a month now. Of course relationships may change as daylight hours decrease, the bucks flood with testosterone, and their velvet is shed off to reveal sharp, burnished tools for competition.

Right now, though, the the antler structure is growing fast, and isn't strong yet. As those antlers reach their full size for the year the bone will fill in and harden.

This wary pair hadn't quite shed out yet.

This buck kept moving so that he was looking over his back on one side, then the other. It is a good defensive move, giving him the ability to take off without having to turn around, but he looked like he was trying to hide behind his butt.

But then a salmonberry bush looked too tasty to pass up.

You just keep munching Mr. Buck

You are going to need every bit of fat you can put on to get through the rut and winter.

This guy is not sure about which pest is worse - the photographer or the horsefly on his nose.

Such sleek, majestic creatures!

But there are exeptions...


Alaska Beachcomber


They're here!

All wobbly legs and absolutely loaded with cuteness, the brand new fawns have arrived on Prince of Wales Island.

A fresh, new Sitka Blacktail fawn in Southeast Alaska.

A recent email came from Glenn in Russia to AlaskaFloatsMyBoat.com. Glenn, from Whale Pass, Prince of Wales Island, Alaska, is in Velikiy Novgorod, Russia doing missionary work. He said the most amazing thing! The mosquitoes there are bigger than the ones in Alaska! Since we joke that our mosquitoes are big enough to require tail numbers and FAA clearance, bigger ones yet must be pretty impressive. Glenn says that they are slower, though. Whew!

Glenn sent the two photos of fawns below. They were taken here on Prince of Wales Island in 2012 before he headed over to Velikiy.

Newby fawn on POW. Photo by Glenn.

What a cutie! Photo by Glenn. Click on the photos to enlarge them.

Wow! Sitka blacktail fawns are super cute every year!

Thank you, Glenn, and wishing you all the best in your work in Russia!

Alaskan Sitka blacktail fawns weigh only around seven pounds when they are  born. Their Mom cleans them up, and then the fawns stand up for their first meal in short order. In a few days those wobbly steps will turn into springy bounds! Once they are up and going well, Mama Doe parks her fawns with orders to stay put until she gets back. The doe then goes off to browse, and comes back every few hours to nurse the fawns.

Laying down and then staying motionless is also a fawn's response to danger.

Mama Doe is seriously put off by the smell of humans, so reaching out to pet this soft adorableness could be very bad for the baby.

This one is so new that his eyes haven't turned brown yet.

This little doe is the twin sister to the fawn in the previous photo.

Mom deer often choose to have their babies on the roadside on Prince of Wales Island. People, cars, and hunting push the bears and wolves away from the roads, so it is a safer place for the fawns while they are getting their feet under themselves. I have wondered if having a firm surface to learn to walk on gives them an advantage, too.

Some deer and moose populations have their young within a short time span. It is called "predator swamping" because the wolves and bears can't get to all of the fawns and calves if they are all born at the same time. I don't know if the Sitka blacktail deer do that, but it sure seems like the fawns all appear within a few days.

This baby is doing fine. Mama Deer will be back and collect her up in a few minutes.

It's a long road, Baby, but you'll make it okay one step at a time.

Drive carefully!

Alaska Beachcomber