While working in the yard with her grandson one day earlier this month, Rawlins native Alice “Tink” Pettigrew Day spotted what she thought was a bundle of rags on the sidewalk just outside of her chain link fence.
“I walked up to it and it wasn’t a bundle of rags, it was a fawn,” she told Cowboy State Daily on Thursday.
And a newborn fawn at that.
“It was still wet,” she said. “Its mother had delivered her baby right outside my chain-link fence.”
Mom Came Back
Day is familiar with Wyoming’s wildlife, so she knows it’s not uncommon for mule deer does to leave their fawns while they go forage. And that it’s best not to touch them, because human scent can cause a doe to reject her baby.
So Day made sure the fawn was safe, that no dogs were around and went about her business.
Sure enough, the doe showed up that evening.
“She came back at about 8:30. The fawn jumped up, had a little dinner and they walked away together down the alley,” Day said.
Two days later, Day found the fawn curled up in front of her house. Again, she made sure it was safe. And once again, its mother showed to retrieve it.
She said that she hasn’t had the fawn on her property since, but she’s spotted it with the doe in an alley and other places around the neighborhood.
Not A Big Fan Of Town Deer
Rawlins has a resident town deer herd, but that wasn’t always the case, Day said.
“In the early 1980s, we had a really bad winter and some of the deer moved into town,” she said. “People were enthralled with them and started feeding them, and the deer stayed.”
The deer also are a nuisance, she said.
“They’re not an especially healthy herd, because people feed them things that aren’t their normal diet,” she said.
Occasionally, the Rawlins Police Department and Wyoming Game and Fish agents will collaborate on deer culling, shooting some of them right in town.
“And of course, there’s a lot of hate and discontent when that happens, and people saying that they (the deer) were here first. And I know that they weren’t,” Day said. “I was born and raised here.”
Day said she doesn’t hate Rawlins’ urban deer, although she’s irritated with them at times, but she wishes people would stop feeding them.
Flower Bed Wars
Day said her biggest point of contention with the deer is over her flower beds.
“They eat my flowers,” she said. “I have spent a fortune on flowers. And I have done everything short of putting actual chicken wire around them trying to keep the deer out.
“They eat the flowers, and they poop everywhere.”
Day said she even tried putting in artificial flowers, but that didn’t work.
“One year I got fed up and just put out silk flowers, artificial flowers, and the deer just pulled them out and scattered them all over the ground, because they were mad at me,” she said.
‘I Can’t Hurt A Baby’
The Rawlins deer are bold, Day said.
“They can be frustrating,” she said. “I’ll walk out of my house yelling and screaming and waving my arms at them. And they’ll walk a few feet away and just turn around and look at me.”
Despite being irritated by the deer in general, Day said the newborn fawn left on her porch melted her heart, and she’s glad she helped keep it safe.
“I can’t hurt a baby,” she said. “I throw a lot of rocks at the big ones, and they don’t really care, because they know I can’t hit anything very well.”
Day posted photos of the fawn on the Rawlins News and Chatter Facebook page, where the town deer are a frequent topic of discussion.
“It’s frequently about the deer,” she said. “There’s always the pros and cons, and the arguments going on.”
Elk Kept Their Distance
Despite another brutal winter this year, Day said she didn’t notice new deer moving into town.
However, a large herd of elk showed up, driven off their usual range by deep, crusted snow. They kept their distance from town.
“They congregated on the ‘R’ hill (a hill near town with an “R” for Rawlins on it). The elk came and basically pastured there all winter,” she said. “I loved seeing the elk, but I sure as heck don’t want them in town.”
Mark Heinz can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.