The Sad Story of George, the Orphaned Fawn: 1933-1940
If you have a good heart, this is one Michigan story that is not an easy one to read. If you saw the Disney animated film “Bambi” then you will notice the similarities.
One day, in the spring of 1933, a doe and her young fawn were enjoying an afternoon in Ogemaw County, east of Houghton/Higgins Lakes. A hunter was nearby, fired his gun, and killed the mother. This is the confusing part to me. Some re-tellings of this story say he was a “careless hunter”...careless how? He was probably hunting illegally and realizing what he did, didn't bother to take the body for meat...he just left it there. Just a wild guess.
The little fawn seemed to have some stray buckshot in his left hind leg, as he limped along on the other three. The fawn was afraid to leave his mother so he knelt down and nestled next to her, hoping she would wake soon and care for him. She never did.
Days later, the deceased doe and the fawn were discovered, the fawn still nestled next to his mother: still alive, cold, shivering, and near starvation. Before the fawn was removed to the Ogemaw Game Refuge, a photographer took a picture of mom and son. The picture was featured in almost every Michigan newspaper, which attracted many, many visitors to the refuge to see, meet, and feed “George, the Orphan Fawn”. George grew tall and healthy into an impressive buck for all Michiganders to visit.
Seven years later – 1940 – George was killed by a poacher. I'm wondering how that happened if he was still a member of the refuge...
Heartbroken, the refuge owners had a memorial made for George, with a tombstone etched with the now-famous photo of George the fawn nestled next to his mother in the woods (photo below). Also etched into the stone was the epitaph:
"A thoughtless hunter at break of dawn,
A lifeless mother, an orphan fawn".
George, The Orphaned Fawn: 1933-1940
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