Tommy GarnerThe first time I saw her, she was small and petite, covered with bright white spots, some in distinct rows and others randomly scattered on her soft brown skin. Her huge eyes were unusual blue color, her wet nose was shiny black, and she weighed no more than a couple of pounds. When she stood, she waddled back and forth on thin legs that appeared to be much too long for such a small creature. Wanda proclaimed "We will call her Destiny", so the orphaned whitetail fawn, whose mother had been hit by a car, now had a new family, and the Garner family had a new member.
Wanda and I both knew somewhat about raising fawns, but we were unprepared to have a newborn deer, especially one that was hungry. Wanda raced off to town to buy goat's milk and a baby bottle with the smallest nipple possible. In an hour or two, the fawn got her first taste of goat’s milk via an eyedropper. To help her bond with us, I sat for hours with her cradled in my lap, feeding her with the eyedropper. Destiny did not have the hang of sucking on a baby bottle and it took her a while, but when she discovered that the harder she sucked, the more milk she got, she really got with it. One unusual catch on sucking the baby bottle, though was the fact that she wanted to nurse on someone's earlobe before she fed from the bottle. It seemed to be a personal thing with her, like she would say "Ok, I'll eat from this lifeless bottle, but first I want at least to have some hint of the real thing."
In the early fall, I did not have the heart to wean the fawn, so while I was out of town on assignment for several weeks, Wanda took Destiny's bottle away. This was a relief for our family due to the fact that a fawn, especially a newborn, needs to nurse several times a day. When we first got Destiny, bottle-feeding was done every four hours during the day. This meant that if we were not home, the fawn did not get to nurse, so our first summer was spent not being gone anywhere for very long at a time until the fawn began to rely on hard food for her nourishment.
Though having a deer for a pet has been a wonderful experience for our family, I have discouraged many people from attempting to raise a fawn caught in the wild. Most do not understand that, because they see that I have successfully raised a fawn taken from the wilds and she has been a sheer joy to me and my family. What most don't understand is the commitment it takes to raise a baby deer to adulthood and at this point, the commitment gets even greater. I have heard stories of woe from people who have attempted to raise a fawn and failed in their attempt, bringing sadness to all, and the demise of the fawn.
Reprinted With Permission Paxton Media Group