Mother deer will frequently leave their fawns for several hours at a time (sometimes the entire day or longer) as they are not strong enough to keep up with her as she forages, nor are they eating solid foods yet. Unless the baby is showing obvious signs of distress you can be certain that the mother will return, perhaps closer to dusk when she feels it is safe to do so.
While many of us have an idyllic image of deer dashing through forests and grazing in wide open fields (plenty of which exist in the southeastern Wisconsin region), but it is actually common to see deer in town, especially in quite, grassy subdivisions. It is also quite common, believe it or not, to find a fawn resting in your front flower bed one day.
It may be difficult to resist the urge to move the baby to a safer location if it’s near a road or even just a shady spot if it’s in the sun, but its best chance at survival is to stay with its mother. She is perfectly capable of getting up, however wobbly, and moving if she becomes uncomfortable or senses danger.
It’s important to keep in mind with all baby animals that even when found alone, they are rarely actually orphaned. With deer, unfortunately, we face another issue: in Waukesha County (as well as many other Wisconsin counties) chronic wasting disease regulations do not allow the rehabilitation of deer or rearing of fawns.
We want what’s best for each potential patient we take in and that means keeping them with their natural parents in their natural environment in as many cases as possible. If a fawn is abandoned it will show clear signs of distress like running around and crying continuously (for several hours straight, not just a bit of crying after being startled by the lawnmower or the family dog). Even though we can’t raise them here, if they are exhibiting these behaviors and they are young enough that they actually allow you to capture them, then they are too young to survive on their own and the outcome will ultimately be their starvation.