Archive for February 15th, 2010


White-tailed Deer: Upon Further Review

Apparently there are not any deer experts following this blog, because if so they would have or should have pointed out that the large deer in this picture is not a doe.


I had tracked a pair of bucks and a third deer – most likely a doe – into this part of the park last week.  I then posted this photo stating that the second deer from the right – the big one looking right at me – was a doe.  The mother I had said.  It’s very difficult to tell a buck from a doe this time of year because the bucks lose their antlers, and they don’t voluntarily lift their legs.  That’s not the mother – it’s the father.  With the second winter coat covering them it even hides the buttons where the antlers would have been.

I should have known simply by his behavior.  A doe won’t turn and face you like that.  He did the same thing later on at the top of a hill.  I waited for them to pop out of the woods so I could get a clear shot and when he popped out, he turned directly toward me.


Here’s a photo of him from last March.  These are park deer.  They are used to humans but far from tame animals, so they aren’t always quite as jumpy as wilder deer.  He has a comfort zone of about twenty yards – though I made a mistake last summer and I got to within ten yards of him.  Have you ever heard a buck snort?  When they snort and spit is flying and their tail is pointed straight back – that’s a warning.  One step closer and I would have probably ended up like that guy in the video being charged and kicked.  Contrary to popular belief, bucks generally don’t use their antlers to defend themselves.  They rear up on their hind legs and kick or kind of bat with their front legs.


About a week later he posed for this shot.


If you look between his left eye and left ear you can see the button, I mentioned before, where his antlers were.


They begin growing their antlers again during late spring to early summer.  You can see the nubs beginning to grow in this shot taken in early May last year.


About a month later the antlers begin to really show.  I’ve said before I haven’t marked these deer, but some of them have distinctive markings.  This buck has a scar on his nose about half way between his right eye and the tip of his nose.  He probably got that scar when he dueled with another buck for control of this park.  If you examine the picture at the top of this post you can just barely see it.


About a month later, toward the end of June, his rack has really begun to take shape.  Look closely and you’ll see the scar on his nose.


During mid-July his rack – now at eight points – looked like this.  I don’t have any pictures of him for September or October – but I did get one last shot of him before winter set in.  With their rack in velvet like it is above, they will begin to scrape on trees to sharpen those antlers and mark their territory and when they do, the rack ends up looking like it does in the picture below.



February 2010
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