Bobtail - Iowa Wildlife Federation


Photography courtesy of Lowell Washburn, all rights reserved.

I’m not one of those people who is big on naming wildlife.  But in the case of Bobtail, it was hard to resist.

Bobtail is a white-tailed doe that, at some point in her life, has literally had her tail chopped in half.  The squared off portion that remains makes her easy to identify.

Bobtail [bringing up the rear] crosses the road in December of 2017 at the Dave Rosendahl farm south of Clear Lake

My first encounter with Bobtail came during the winter of 2017 when she, along with several other white-tails, ran across the road in front of my truck at Dave Rosendahl’s farm located south of Clear Lake.  I’ve enjoyed many additional encounters since that snowy day.  The sightings have occurred on both public and private landscapes.  Some have been at a distance.  Others have been more up close and personal.  Included among my favorites are the times when I’ve been able to observe Bobtail while she cared for her latest set of twin fawns. 

Bobtail forages with one of last year’s twin fawns

Even when I’m in desperate need of fresh venison, I never draw my bow on an antlerless deer until I’m sure the animal is not Bobtail.  My decision is, I suppose, is an odd mix of science and emotion.  From a biological perspective, adult does are the most important components of any given deer herd.  Deer herds ebb and flow by the fawns they produce.  On the emotional side, I wouldn’t harvest Bobtail because I “know her”.  Might sound silly, I know.  No basis in science, just the way I feel.

Following last year’s 4 ½-month Iowa deer seasons, I was happy to spot Bobtail in early March.  I didn’t see her again until last week.  While photographing spring birdlife, I saw her slowly browsing through a thick woodland.  When she paused at a distance of less than 30 yards, I could see that she was pregnant again.  By pregnant, I mean ready to bust – a sure sign that once again, she was carrying twins.  Delivery was near and you could see the fawns vigorously kicking against her distended belly. 

A very pregnant Bobtail was seen browsing through a spring woodland late last week.

I imagine those fawns are one the ground now, their delicately spotted forms quietly resting on a shady bed of ferns.  I’m hoping Bobtail and her youngsters have a good summer.

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