Oh stag… daycare? How a neighbor’s garden left a fawn-tastic legacy in Lethbridge

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When Darrell and Maggie Sawyer moved into their home on the south side of Lethbridge, Alta. Seven years ago, they didn’t expect to have regular four-legged guests: deer.

“It’s cool. It really is,” Maggie said. “Being in town and having them lay on the grass and feel so comfortable.”

Fawns in a Lethbridge backyard.


Courtesy of: Darrell Sawyer


When they moved in, their neighbor was a woman named Helen. She had lived in her home since it was built in 1947 for WWII veterans.

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Each year, Helen planted a vegetable patch that Darrell said would take up a quarter of her yard. A crab apple tree would sit in the middle.

“She had the most beautiful garden you can imagine,” said Darrell.

“And flowers. Lots of flowers and things that deer love to eat, ”Maggie said.

“That’s why [the deer] started coming here.

The Sawyers quickly learned that the deer were here to stay – Helen’s garden turned out just too good.

“The deer would come and attack the garden and Helen would come out with a broom waving it back and forth saying, ‘Get out of here, devils on all fours,’” Darrell said with a laugh.

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“It was entertaining.”

When Helen died, the house was purchased and turned into rental property. The garden has been replaced with grass, leaving nothing for the deer to feast on.

But… they kept coming.

A fawn having a snack at the Sawyers house.


Courtesy of: Darrell Sawyer


“It’s like it’s imprinted in them that it’s a great place to come and eat,” Darrell said.

They said the deer could often be seen lying in the shade of the tree or grazing in the yard in search of a snack.

And it’s consistent. A few years ago the Sawyers noticed a change in confidence with the deer.

“They started dropping their fawns as they went to loot the local gardens,” Darrell said.

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The little fawn can now be seen alone in the yard all week long, waiting for his parents to return to pick them up.

“I think they checked us out pretty well before they left them,” Maggie said. “And I think that’s why they started leaving them just a few years ago.”

Fawns resting in a Lethbridge backyard.


Courtesy of: Darrell Sawyer


Deer are not uncommon in Lethbridge, but it is not uncommon to see them befriending and trusting humans.

It was a fun experience for the Sawyers. They said they can recognize the fawns as they grow older and keep coming back.

“We’re getting to know them,” Darrell said. “And we like to name them according to their attitudes. “

Recently, as Maggie was leaving for work one morning, she noticed that a sleeping guest had walked over to the back deck.

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It was the first time the Sawyers had seen a fawn on the patio. Usually, they are found in the shade of their neighbors’ crab apple trees.

A fawn taking a nap on the Sawyers’ back deck.


Courtesy of: Darrell Sawyer


Young and curious, fawns also like to peek into the Sawyers’ backyard studio while they work.

“We don’t harass them,” Darrell said. “We’re going to sneak in and take pictures, but we leave them alone most of the time. And they don’t seem to bother us.

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Oh deer: how to react when encountering wildlife in southern Alberta

They said most of the neighbors feel the same way. When the deer lay down their fawns, people will watch from their balconies or windows as the little ones settle into the familiar space.

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But there is one neighbor who likes to test the limits with fawns: Sawyer’s cat, Milo.

“He goes out and interacts with them,” Darrell said.

“He tracks them down and then when they turn to look at him he stands up like he’s not doing anything.”

Milo hangs out with his friends, the fawns.


Courtesy of: Darrell Sawyer


Darrell added that Milo can sometimes be seen hiding in the branches of the crab apple tree, leaping from branch to branch as he (safely) follows the deer into the backyard.

The Sawyers didn’t expect a constant stream of four-legged neighbors when they moved into their home, but they are happy to have and trust them.

“It really sets the tone for the day,” said Darrell.

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“It’s wonderful. It’s a great legacy for Helen.

© 2021 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.


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