Winchester-Nabu Detective Agency Year Five:
Case File No. 25-233
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Where We Left Off:
In our last case file, we introduced you to our newest staff member, Sherlock Gnomes, and talked about some of the cases he’d been involved with at the Winchester-Nabu Detective Agency.
A Stranger Came Home:
Going all the way back to the summer — late August to be specific — a family of Jersey devil-deer creatures started visiting. We got to observe wingless baby fawns who still had their white spots. In this stage they most closely resemble the common white-tailed deer. There are tons of photos, albeit they’re all blurry because I’m the worst wildlife photographer.
Gus and Oliver were feeling particularly energized to go on patrol and investigate around the Winchester-Nabu property. Luckily the Butler was around on August 28 to accompany Oliver. They did some speedy work of distributing peanuts and going up the private road to make sure things were in order.
Gus and I were up at the smaller maple where the back bird feeder hangs (when one is actually there and not vandalized by creatures). The red-spotted lantern bugs have been heinous once again. They cover that poor tree. The Grumpy Old Man has sprayed god knows what on them, but they come back. Gus thinks they make reasonable snacks, but not nearly as delicious as cave crickets.
I followed Gus as he led me to the northern border of the woods. Sometimes we get to watch chipmunks or squirrels from there. Speaking of squirrels, where the hell have they been this year? They used look forward to seeing me and they haven’t been around. Anyway, I can tell when Gus has spotted someone to spy on. He stares and locks himself down. As long as he’s not fearful, he may proceed to investigate more closely. Now, if that other critter happens to be another cat, he goes nuts and chased them. I find it fascinating to watch him when something bigger comes around. He’s less scared of bears than dogs.
A small spotted fawn entered by the trees and shrubbery that separate the grotto from the street. I left Gus where he was since he was safe and I could easily keep an eye on him so I tried to step quietly closer to the fawn. I’m short, but larger and definitely not graceful. I don’t have the necessarily stealth skills to be cunning at sneaking up on anyone.
Fort Winchester was only steps away from me and I was getting my camera ready when Gus showed up. I guess there was nothing for him to surveil in the back. At the fort, he wasn’t at all scared by the spotted creature so much larger than himself. When Oliver was finished and ready to go back home to be with the Cook, the Butler joined us too.
Incidentally, this year Gus has practiced climbing up to the higher levels of the fort without assistance. He used to look at the ladder and faux “rock climbing” wall and let out his typical baby cries to get lifted up. He normally wanted help getting down too. I was trying to train him as one of his melanin predecessors, Lady Claire, who would use my legs, arms, and back for catification levels to get around. She often sat on my shoulder when we would take walks (she weighed much less than Gus). Needless to say, when Gus started climbing up the fort on his own, I was immensely proud. Gus usually gets treats when we’re at Fort Winchester anyway, but I like when he earns them by doing such challenging tasks.
The devil-deer creature was hungry. It took notice of us and occasionally looked up to make sure we weren’t coming any closer. She was beautiful. The morning sunlight was vibrant and made the landscape shiny with deep pockets of shade. Gus was captivated as was I. The Butler seemed pretty bored in that yeah it’s a deer, we’ve seen hundreds kind of way.
“Gus, don’t you find it unusual that a devil-deer this young is alone?” I asked my furry black companion who was perched on his wooden deck.
“It is. The mother has to be close. She must be allowing her young to test their boundaries.”
If the mother was around, we never heard her. I’ve heard the call of mothers many times. It’s a distinctive sound they make whenever humans come too close to their young or if the children are getting too far away. No such sound was being made that day. The fawn appeared to be on its own.
Earlier we saw two fawn creatures up the driveway. It seems plausible that this solo fawn was one of them on its own after an adventure with her sibling. I don’t have the math skills to figure out if either of the twins matched in measurement from a greater distance than the one we got close to.
After returning to the Winchester-Nabu Detective Agency offices, Ollie and I started to do some research. Knowing that the white-tailed deer of North America is a hybrid genetically with the Jersey Devil, we looked up deer facts to see if we could answer any questions about the spotted fawns hanging around.
After a doe gives birth, usually in the spring, she nurses her fawns for two or three months. After weaning, they stay with their mothers for up to two years. Generally, a buck stays for one year, while the young doe stays for two. — outdoorsbeing.com
As I write up this case file, hunting season had already begun. This helps keep populations at a manageable number (supposedly, but I doubt humans are the best at determining that number) which keeps the deer from starving in winter or having even more collisions with motor vehicles. In fact, our agency has a mysterious case to work on after this one about a murder.
Right now, we’re simply trying to identify the creatures and gather information. Something a lot of humans seem unusually concerned about is when they find a baby creature alone. At least when it comes to deer, the babies are always left alone unless it’s feeding time or they need to be relocated. Their parents know they stand a better chance if they lay low in the woods and keep quiet.
Female deer stay with their mothers for up to two years, while buck fawns leave after a year. — outdoorsbeing.com
Given that the fawn at Fort Winchester was being somewhat social, Oliver estimated that she was at least six months old. We can’t be absolutely certain was one of the earlier twins because some larger family gatherings of devil-deer have been seen down the road. On June 4, 2021, some tiny spotted babies were photographed.
With the numerous encounters of devil-deer creatures in the area, we can’t be completely certain the fawn who visited us at Fort Winchester was ever seen before. It’s likely she was one of two born to a doe in early June or late May.