Identification of Fawns and Adult Does
Buck fawns are generally larger than doe fawns and towards the end of the December hunting season are somewhat difficult to distinguish from a yearling doe. Some general tips to harvest a doe and to avoid harvesting a buck fawn include:
- Don't harvest an antlerless deer that appears alone. Does rarely travel alone.
- Wait until several deer are together and then look for obvious size differences.
- Later in the hunting season, it is not uncommon for "orphaned" twin fawns to feed in food plots. Probability dictates one's a buck and one's a doe. In this situation, it is easy to mistake the buck fawn for an adult doe, since it is normally larger than the doe fawn.
- Close inspection with binoculars looking for pedicles or antler bases (particularly from the side view) helps avoid harvesting the nubbin buck.
- Pay attention to obvious fawns throughout the season, look for indications of pedicle development, body shape, etc.
- Watch the behavior of deer. Fawns are playful, curious, and not as cautious as adult does.
- Don't wait until you're ready to harvest a doe to look for differences.
- Don't harvest deer with short snouts.
- Look for "wear and tear" signs that typify mature does (for example, ears that appear too short for the head, a swayed back, and sagging belly).
- The snout of an adult doe is relatively longer than a fawn's.
- An adult doe's body is rectangular shaped, while a fawn's body is square shaped.
- And especially important, if you're not sure, wait to harvest an animal when you can make a more positive identification.
Note: The above tips are included in a publication available through the QDMA.