Roe Riddle

A roe curiosity.
A roe curiosity.

Having been put out of the loop by BT, who are unable (or unwilling) to connect the internet to my new house and have been lying doggo for five weeks without even the faintest spark of demonstrable initiative, this blog has fallen behind a little.

Trying to catch up at this stage is probably hopeless, but there are some bits and pieces worth noting as being of special interest amongst the rambling hotch-potch this blog usually dwells upon. Having shot a roe on the hill last night, I headed home below a bank of granite scree where the wind was raking up the grass and lashing the heather.

Taking a slight detour from the sheepwalk, I peered down into the mouth of a known fox earth where there are often cubs in June. Spread out on the peat below a lichen spattered boulder was an almost pristine roe fawn, missing only its ears and part of its face. What struck me most was the size of the fawn. It had been dead for a matter of hours, but was only the size of a hare. Having seen quite a few young roe this summer, I would say that this little deer was comparable in size to a fawn in late July or early August, and I couldn’t explain why it should be so far behind its peers, many of which are now almost as big as their mothers.

Feeling along its forelegs, I noticed that the skin was all bumpy like a scabby, ill-thriven lamb, and there were two or three ticks embedded in the short, downy hair of its armpits and thighs. It was not the picture of health and probably would not have made a decent adult beast if it had survived the winter, and I wondered if it had died of its own accord or whether a fox had snuffed out an already guttering candle.

More to the point, why should this little fawn even have existed? Was it a late comer or was it born in good time but was simply never going to be a good beast? It was bizarre that it was in full winter coat, which suggested that it had grown out of its summer one, although there may be strange and mysterious forces at work in terms of coat change relating to day length and temperature as with other mammals which disprove this. It is an interesting riddle, and I’d be interested to hear opinions on the matter.

I measured the fawn as thirty inches from nose to tail, then took off its legs and brought them home for the ferrets, unwilling to let the fox get away with keeping his dinner in such an insecure larder.


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