5 Common Myths About Whitetail Fawns

It’s early June and social media is abuzz with photos of recently born fawns from across the country. While we love seeing these reports of successful whitetail breeding efforts, the ensuing discussion often leads to misinformation regarding whitetail fawns. So today we wanted to address five of the most prevalent fawn myths.

A fawn is abandoned because there is no doe in sight. This is simply the whitetail’s predator avoidance strategy. Fawns spend their first 3-4 weeks hiding before they routinely follow their mothers.

Fawns are odorless. This is false, as their unique scent is how their mothers identify them. In fact, they urinate on their tarsal glands daily, even when just a few days old.

A set of twin fawns are always from the same father. This also is false. Research has documented that about 25 percent of all sets of twin fawns come from different fathers. There has even been a case of triple paternity documented where a set of triplets was sired by three different bucks.

There are more female fawns born than males. Again false. In fact, male fawns tend to slightly outnumber female fawns.

Once you pick up a fawn its mother won’t take it back. Research has clearly shown that handling a fawn, even for several minutes, has no impact on whether its mother will accept it. Just return it to where you found it and leave.

So, next time you are discussing fawns with your family and friends, please share these fun facts. We also hope you spend more time thinking about the fawns on your hunting property and, importantly, their survival during their first few weeks when they are especially vulnerable. Not long ago, the topic of the day was how best to protect yearling bucks. Today, and into the foreseeable future, it will be how to increase fawn survival in areas where predators have become the norm. It’s definitely a new day in the world of the whitetail.


About Brian Murphy

Brian P. Murphy is the Chief Executive Officer of the Quality Deer Management Association (QDMA), a position he has held since 1997. He is also a wildlife biologist with a B.S. degree in Range and Wildlife Management from Texas Tech University and a M.S. degree in Wildlife Biology from the University of Georgia. At UGA, he was awarded the E.L. Cheatum Wildlife Excellence Award. After graduating, he worked for four years as a deer biologist in Australia, earning the National Conservation Award from the Australian Deer Association in 1996. In 2011, Murphy was named one of the top 25 conservation leaders of the year by Outdoor Life magazine. He has presented more than 600 lectures and authored more than 120 popular and scientific articles on deer biology and management. Brian and his wife Heidi have two daughters, Lauren and Jordan.