One day when Ray and a neighbor were riding in the “big pasture” – it was a 4000 acre track—they discovered a nearly starved fawn in some brush where its mother had hid it. A doe will hide a fawn before going off to graze or for water, and the fawn will not leave its hiding place.
Its mother never returned. No doubt she was killed by poachers—those that trespass and hunt on posted land—both Milam ranches were posted at all times—or by “headlighters” – hunters that hunted at night—which was against the law– with powerful searchlights which blinded the deer—and livestock—and so were easy prey. Often we found calves, goats and sheep that had been killed and left, but usually they were taken by the hunters. We never found the bones of the fawn’s mother as would be the case if coyotes or panthers had killed her. Deer never abandon their fawns, so we were sure hunters had killed her, although it was not deer season. Deer season is in the Fall or Winter, and at this time it was early Spring.
Ray put the fawn over the saddle in front of him and brought it back to the ranch house. We kept a big wooden box just outside the kitchen door for a “nursery” for the bottle-fed baby animals that every ranch has to take care of. We brought it into the kitchen near the big iron cookstove, padded it well with old soft, clean blankets, and put the fawn in it.
We knew the rich milk from the Jersey milk cows would make it sick, so Ray brought a Red Pole cow, named Mabel, that had a calf, in from the pasture, and we bottle-fed the fawn on her milk.
Kazan and Scotty took a great interest in the fawn, which we named “Little One”. They had just “graduated” from bottle-feeding and could just barely stand on tip-toe, with their paws on the top edge of the box, and watch with rapt attention the feeding of Little One. I didn’t know what Kazan’s attitude would be toward the fawn, but it was no different from Scotty’s.
It two or three days Little One began to gain strength, and surprised me, and delighted Kazan and Scotty, by climbing out of the box. After that it spent most of its time jumping out of the box, and I spent most of my time putting it back again. It had the run of the house, and wherever I went, it followed, along with Kazan, with Scotty bringing up the rear.
Soon I could take it out into the yard. Buff and Duff accepted it without question—they were used to all sorts of animals on the ranch—lambs and kids, and sometimes calves, had to be bottle-fed and, as they grew older, were kept in the yard.
We hunted up a spare dog collar and sheep bell for Little One.
When we had had it about a month, Ray built it a pen next to the yard, with a high chicken wire fence. It was getting too large to keep in the house.
I often brought it into the yard to pl
ay with Kazan and Scotty. But it usually made a beeline for the kitchen door, and could open the screen door with it’s foot. It loved to be in the house.
We had its pen next to the yard, so the dogs could keep an eye on it—to protect it from coyotes.
We decided to tie a ribbon round its neck, just so everyone would know it belonged to someone in case it should get out of its pen. Not so much to protect it from hunters, but to prevent anyone thinking it was “lost” and carry it home with them.
Years later the Milams had another fawn. When it was about half grown it would graze with the milk cows in the “trap.” The highway ran by this trap, near the ranch house.
One day the fawn failed to return with the cows in the evening. So they went looking for it, and found it dead.
Someone shot it from the highway, although it had been wearing a red collar and bell.
After Ray and I went to Lareda to live, the Milams gave Little One to a friend near Del Rio that had a herd of pet deer in a large twelve-foot high fenced pen, where it could be happy with its own kind.