My brother and I love to kayak in Speelyai Bay on Lake Merwin. The amazing abundance of birds there is reason enough: Canada geese, kingfishers, eagles, cormorants, blue herons, osprey and mergansers–including the elusive and uncommon hooded merganser. But this true story is about a four-legged creature that joined us there in early June.
Paddling near the densely forested far shore, we saw a movement in the thick brush along the water’s edge.
“What is it?!” A flash of tan. “Is it a bobcat?”
Suddenly, the tiniest fawn we’ve ever seen stumbled out of the brush and landed partway in the water. It couldn’t have been more than a week old and only about a foot tall.
“Oh, hi, little one. Where’s your mom?”
At the sound of our voices, the little creature started crying pitifully with a little squeaking sound. My brother started talking to it calmly: “Don’t go in the water. Stay there, little one.”
That’s when the fawn jumped back in the water and, to our amazement, started swimming towards my brother’s kayak, clearly responding to the sound of his voice. To discourage it, he started paddling his kayak away. I watched, horrified, as the fawn quickly swam behind, following him closely.
In my head I heard all the warnings we hear constantly from the experts: Do not try to rescue seemingly abandoned young wildlife. Leave them alone!
But what if they are determined to follow you, even at the risk of drowning?
I shouted: “Turn around, bro! He’s following you! Maybe he’ll follow you back to shore!”
As my brother’s kayak turned around, the tiny fawn reached him and tried to climb into his kayak.
“No!” we both yelled.
Finally the confused creature turned, swam successfully back to shore, and cried some more, now very wet and cold.
At last we heard some thrashing above the shivering fawn as its mother came crashing through the dense brush, slipping down the steep slope. We had moved farther away to keep watch, and breathed a huge sigh of relief as mother and baby were reunited. The fawn became quiet and began nursing eagerly.
Hearts still thumping, we quietly paddled away. Simultaneously, we both said: “No one is going to believe what just happened!”
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