We reached that time of the year again when I reflect back on many of my White-tailed Deer encounters from spring fawns to the fall mating season. I hope you enjoy the photos.
This first photo is the only photo in this blog made outside of Pennsylvania. I have several photos of doe but I really liked the background of this White-tailed Deer in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.
A little different view of a couple fawns going in to nurse from their momma.
Mid-Summer evenings are a good time to check on the antler growth of this year's big bucks.
White-tailed Deer fawns are at the top of my list of favorite wildlife babies.
This evening was the last time I ever saw this August buck. I wish I could have photographed him after his antlers stopped growing and the velvet was shed.
The remaining photos were made during the rut. I began actively photographing the rut in mid-October and stopped in late November. I found this guy on my first day.
I may carry a Canon instead of a gun but to photograph the rut, sometimes I need to possess the same skills as a hunter. I was actually hidden fairly well while watching a spike buck and a couple doe when out of nowhere this 10-point buck exploded onto the scene and chased one of the doe.
It was near darkness when I saw this buck. I was driving and happened to see him off the road about 50 yards. He stood still for the longest time and kept staring into this thicket. My guess is a doe was in there but she never showed herself in the 15 minutes that I watched.
This 10-point was standing on a ridge with an open field behind him so it was a perfect setting for a silhouette. Normally, he would turn and run but lucky for me he was guarding a receptive doe in the valley below him.
This is the same buck as the last photo but from the other side. He was still locked down on the doe feeding over the bank in front of him. White-tailed Deer
This buck exited the woods and walked cautiously into a clearing.
Testosterone is like a shot of steroids for a buck whose neck can double in size well before the rut even begins.
This is the same buck as the last photo just after entering some thicker woods.
A buck could stay tight to his receptive doe for 24-48 hours or longer, breeding her regularly.
There was a buck on a doe in the woods intersected by a powerline clearing. I followed on the powerline but stayed behind them hoping they would cross at some point. Eventually the doe began to run across the opening and up the wooded hillside. A minute later the buck walked out into the opening.
When a deer becomes alert, it will stop and stomp its foot on the ground. The proper term for this action is to stamp its foot. Boys and girls both do it. They curl up their leg and forcefully slam their hoof on the ground. They typically stand there and do it several times until it identifies the unknown source of danger.
My buck stamped about three times before following the doe.
As I walked the powerline back to my vehicle, I passed a large opening on my right that had a lot of high grass, Multiflora Rose, and other shrubby vegetation. There were about five doe standing in this opening and browsing around for food. A couple of the doe, like the one in the photo below, looked like they could be one of this year's fawns but the white spots have faded into the growth of their winter coat. I was slowly walking past them when this nice buck came out of the woods and took command of the clearing. With his head down, he sniffed the path of each doe and I assume none were in heat because he kept moving through the other side of the clearing and disappeared into the woods.
Bucks can find out a lot by licking and smelling branches. It's how they communicate with each other. What females or rival males have been there first? After tasting they will rub their own pre-orbital gland to let the next buck know that he's been there. It's the whitetail's very own dating website.
This guy had a little limp but it didn't look like a serious injury.
I made this photo on the last day I went out to photograph rut activity. He's not the biggest buck I've seen this year but I liked the golden backlighting of the setting November Sun.
I hope you enjoyed reliving my White-tailed Deer experiences. I know it can't replace actually being there but I hope my photos and text take you away for a minute.
Thanks for looking,