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The Battle of the Bucks

Nov 17, 2014

No need to watch Discovery Channel or Animal Planet to catch one of Mother Nature’s most exciting shows.

If you listen closely and quietly in the November woods, you may hear the sounds of battle!

November means deer season for hunters and breeding season for White-tailed deer—also known as “the rut”.  Adult males, bucks, will find a territory and stake it out. They will defend it from other bucks while trying to attract female deer—does.

To mark the boundaries of their turf, bucks make “scrapes” on the ground.  They secrete special hormones to warn bucks to stay away and attract interested does—who will leave behind their own chemical calling cards.

Sometimes the competition gets so intense that bucks square off in an antler-to-antler dual.  They fight by jousting with their antlers and sometimes you can hear the clashing echo through the autumn woods.

Oh, Deer!

  • Deer were essential to Indians and early settlers, providing food, hides, sinews for bowstrings, bones for tools, and much more.
  • As deer nip off buds and branches, they encourage denser growth on the plants they forage on.
  • When deer are overabundant, they can cause serious damage to food-plant populations.
  • Although deer are today chased most commonly by free-running dogs, they also provide food for coyotes and bobcats.
  • The peak of the mating (rutting) season is in November. Most young are born in late May or early June. A doe usually has twins; each weighs 4–7 pounds at birth.

Want more deer details? Check out the MDC Field Guide.

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