White-tailed Deer: Buck and Yearlings

When I began taking pictures of these deer, I had vowed that I wouldn’t name them.  I wouldn’t give them names and so make them like pets, but I’ve found that giving some of these individual deer names has helped me understand some of the things I observe happening with this herd.  Last weekend I observed some behavior that has raised the eyebrows of a few people, including longtime deer hunters.


The big fellow in the middle I’ve named Big Boy.  Big Boy is a male about five years old.  He is not the dominant male deer of the herd, but I have seen him associated with the dominant, and pregnant, female of the herd.  In this picture Big Boy is with two of the yearlings.  Pictures of the yearlings can be found scattered throughout this blog, starting from last July when they were about six weeks old.  I took this picture last weekend.  What raised people’s eyebrows?  I’ve never seen the yearlings without their mother and last weekend when I took this photo their mother was nowhere in sight and the two yearlings were with Big Boy.  Most people, me included, don’t equate male deer as being paternal, but clearly in this picture Big Boy is looking after the yearlings in the absence of their mother.


In this photo of Big Boy, you can also see that he has started going into velvet.  It also looks like the young male on the right side of the top picture has started going into velvet.  What you are seeing in this picture is a White-tailed Deer ploy.  White-tailed Deer will do a head-bob, especially the young deer.  The head-bob is them pretending to bend down to eat and then quickly raising their head to see if you are going to attack them.  Big Boy had spotted me before I saw him, and here he has refined the head-bob into pretending to nibble on some leaves to see if I’m going to attack.


In this picture you can clearly see that Big Boy’s antlers have begun to grow.

2 Responses to “White-tailed Deer: Buck and Yearlings”

  1. 1 Terry Townsend
    August 21, 2011 at 8:57 am

    Could I have permission to use a few of the whitetail deer photos for a book I am writing on whitetail deer. Naturally I would credit the photographer and this website. Thanks for your consideration.

  2. 2 Randy Roberts
    August 25, 2011 at 5:34 pm


    While I am glad you consider my photos worthy enough to use in your book, I would have to decline without knowing more about you and your book, and I would also need to know which photos you intend on using. Please feel free to direct any future comments on this subject to my e-mail account R_Roberts@charter.net.

    Randy Roberts

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May 2009

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