While on a recent wildlife photography trip at the Sequoyah National Wildlife Refuge, I spotted a young Whitetail deer with peculiarly bent ear tips grazing in a field. At first glance, it appeared as though the tips of the fawn’s ears were missing. But upon inspecting my photos on my computer later, I realized the ear tips were simply curled back, not removed.
Intrigued by this, I did some research to try and uncover why a fawn might have curled ears. I learned that bent ear tips can sometimes indicate dehydration in young deer. When a fawn is unable to nurse and becomes dehydrated, its ear tips may bend back slightly as a result. However, healthy, well-nourished fawns tend to have straight, upright ears.
After watching the fawn for a while and noting its behavior, I concluded dehydration was likely not the cause in this case. The fawn seemed healthy overall, and I noticed its mother was nearby, suggesting it was getting proper nourishment.
Capturing a clear photo of the curled-eared fawn proved challenging. The fawn was in a field overgrown with tall grasses and plants, obstructing my view from the roadside where I had parked. To get the shot, I opened the door of my pickup and stood on the frame, positioning my camera on the roof to photograph the fawn above the vegetation.
In the end, encountering this unique Whitetail fawn taught me the importance of doing thorough research to better grasp wildlife behavior. While the fawn’s bent ears initially seemed concerning, my investigation revealed the deer was healthy and thriving in its habitat. The ear position was simply an interesting genetic quirk. As a wildlife photographer, these kinds of learning experiences are invaluable for expanding my knowledge.
- Camera: Canon EOS 7D Mark II
- Lens: Canon EF 100-400 mm f/4.5-5.6 L IS II USM
- Location: Sequoyah National Wildlife Refuge (Oklahoma)
- Date & Time Taken: August 24, 2018 (07:12:11 A.M.)
- Aperture Priority
- Aperture: f7.1
- Shutter speed: 1/320 sec. (as determined by the camera)
- ISO: 800
- Focal Length: 400 mm