Some years it’s rare to see fawns before the mid-point of the month-long May gobbler season here in New York state.

But this year, 2020, the little spotted fawns seem to be popping up like dandelions.

And that is because of the early, late-October rut or breeding flurry of the whitetail deer, here in our latitude.

I remember it well, perched in my treestand last Fall, a full week before Halloween during bow season.

There, I had the privilege of observing three dandy eight-point bucks just as they shredded the bonds of their bachelor group, as they dogged a doe.

Actually, the first deer I saw in the late afternoon was the doe, kind of coyly scooting with her head down, on a field edge. When she looked back, one of the bucks, nose to the ground and tail straight up, scent-trailed her.

Then from the side, another mature buck with heavy antlers worked his way, halting, looking at the pair, and immediately began pawing the ground, making a scrape and working an overhanging branch with total intensity.

As the two rival bucks began eyeing each other, pawing the ground, and licking overhanging branches, the third and largest buck worked downwind of the other two bucks and then, strode in between them liked he owned the place with ears back and hair flared out, making him appear even larger.

That buck immediately went to the zip-tied community scrape I had made, scent-checked it and marked it by vigorously hitting the licking branch and pawing the ground.

The doe, with head and tail down, then hopped into the thick cover, pursued by the first buck.

The other two bucks’ interest appeared to be more in each other, and sure enough, the larger buck, after working the scrape, chased the other big eight-pointer. I thought for sure I was going to see a fight, but they moved off into the thick brush where the doe disappeared and they sorted out their issues.

My trail cameras in other locations validated that indeed; an early rut was in full swing.

Rarely have I experienced such intense rutting so early. More often in mid-October, bucks are still in their summer-time bachelor group format, showing little interest in the opposite sex.

So, it was easy to predict with simple math that we would have an early fawn drop come next May.

A whitetail doe has a gestation period of 200 days, give or take a day or so on each side of 200. That is a scientific fact, indisputable at this time unless there is some cosmic paradigm shift, unforeseen. So by counting ahead 200 days from late October, we arrive at mid-May on this good planet earth.

People may argue with science and scientific conclusions do change.

We say, “the fawns are early,” or “the fawns are late this year.” But actually, the fawns always hit terra firma exactly 6.6 months after they were conceived.

Historically, we thought that there was one main whitetail rut, or breeding time, and it occurred in November. And therefore, all the fawns would be born at the same time in late May, around Memorial Day, or early June.

I think the reason for lumping parturition timing is because game departments that measured fetuses from road-killed does used averages.

But in fact we know now that there are three flurries of rutting activity each year in our latitude, the northeast and the Midwest. Other areas of the US, such as the south evidence different peak rut dates for whitetails, usually a month, or sometimes two months later.

Some years the early rut, or October breeding cycle is almost nonexistent, and then we have last year, 2019 with an intense late October breeding flurry.

The peak of the second rut last year occurred right at the beginning of our rifle season last year. And it was great and exciting to see bucks running does and setting up breeding clusters during that week. No wonder the buck take last fall was so high. (2019 NY buck take 120,000, up 6.2% over 2018 113,000 … and well over five-year average of 107,000 bucks.)

So the next fawn drop should occur en masse during the first and second week of June this year.

And a few late fawns conceived during the third rut in early December being born in early July would follow that. This latter group is composed of the tiny fawns we see in early bow season that still have their spots.

Oak Duke writes a weekly column appearing on the Outdoors page.