By Dr. Courtney Bennett, Bending Branches National Pro Staff
Recently, Hobie introduced a new kayak called the Hobie Lynx. I was instantly intrigued due to the 45 lb fitted hull weight of the Lynx. As I have leveled up to middle age, I have noted some minor issues with my back and shoulder, so the Lynx seemed like a good fit for me. My friend, Brian Tacy at Strictly Sail and Kayak in Cincinnati, Ohio called me when a Lynx became available. Even though I live south of Nashville, Tennessee, Brian had one of his employees drive the new Hobie Lynx to my house and deliver it to me. I was one of the first people in Tennessee to be able to test out this new, hybrid kayak. Needless to say, I was excited!
Knowing that the Lynx offers the ability to paddle as well as pedal, I paired one of my favorite Bending Branches paddles, the Angler Pro Glowtek with the Lynx for my first trip to the water. It was a beautiful morning, the birds were chirping and the river was literally coming to life right before my eyes. My husband James joined me, as he and I had planned to have a friendly fishing competition between the two of us that day. Our terms were, whoever caught the first fish, the other had to pay a whopping $5 bucks. It was enough to spur me into full-on competition mode. James and I launched our kayaks and began making our way up past the rock formations and small waterfalls. We were both talking as we cruised up the river, taking in all of the sights. There were Cranes fishing as we went up through a shallow part of the river where the river then forked and turned upstream toward a deeper section of the Collins.
As my husband James and I drew closer to a small waterfall on the right, my husband stopped talking and looked over toward the rock ledge where he had spotted a fawn. My husband stayed back away from the fawn, trying to get a look at it from a safe distance. Initially, my husband thought the fawn was injured. It was seemingly land-locked, with not many options on where it would be able to go unless it was able to swim. My husband cautiously approached the fawn, but stayed a good distance from it being extremely careful not to spook the fawn. James and I both thought the fawn had fallen over the ledge from above, from the area that is heavily lined with trees. I decided that it would be best to call a park ranger and report the location of the fawn, just in case it was hurt. After speaking to a ranger, my husband and I moved on up the river to fish away from the fawn. We traveled approximately fifty yards from where we initially encountered the fawn and began to fish. Eventually, a park ranger showed up and looked at the fawn. He told us that they would note the area where the fawn was located and come back later to check on it. The ranger assured us that the fawn would probably rejoin with the doe later on, and the fawn did not appear to be injured as we saw it stand up and walk over to the small waterfalls where it got a drink of water. We had also noticed the fawn chewing on some leaves that were hanging down from some branches, so we felt really good about the fawn being reunited with the doe.
After talking to the park ranger, my husband and I once again fished an area about fifty yards away from the fawn and enjoyed the morning. After we had finished fishing and decided to head back to the beach and load up, we said our goodbyes to the fawn and left it alone. In the event that you happen upon a fawn during a kayaking trip, it is best to leave it where you found it. The park ranger told us that fawns are sometimes left alone by their mother for up to 18 hours per day. It is easy to assume the fawn has been abandoned or has strayed away from the doe, but the ranger explained how this is a natural occurrence and that more often than not, the doe reunites with the fawn. As much as we wanted to "help" the fawn, we knew that we would put it at far more risk if we tried to feed it, touch it, or move it to another area. In this case, our calling the park ranger was the correct way to help the fawn.
Oh, and as a side note, my husband had to pay me $5 that particular day. The first fish caught off the Hobie Lynx was caught and released by yours truly.
Stay safe, wear your PFD, and happy paddling!