Autumn is the Whitetail Deer's Most Hectic Season.
white-tailed deer is one of the most mysterious and alluring animals on the
planet. Their grace and agility is
remarkable and their ability to appear and disappear seemingly at will is
legendary. Our children have all seen
and read stories of Bambi and little fawns and we tend to associate this animal
with tranquility and peace. For the most
part that is the white-tail deer but that all changes in the fall.
Autumn without a doubt is the whitetail's most hectic
season. They become more active during
the season, almost unbelievably so. Due
to changes in hormone secretion, they begin to look different than they did
during summer. The lethargic days of
summer are over and the hardships associated with the coming winter lies
ahead. As the breeding season and the
stressful winter season lurks in the near future, both their social and
nutritional demands change.
adult whitetails, the sexes live in separate social groups outside of the rut
and demonstrate somewhat different seasonal food and cover preferences.
The basic social unit of females
comprises of a matriarch doe (six years or older) and several generations of
her daughters and their fawns. Each doe
in a matriarchal unit occupies an exclusive area for rearing fawns, but members of the clan share overlapping home
ranges and sometimes band together as a close-knit group during other seasons
By comparison, upon reaching maturity
whitetail bucks join fraternal groups comprised of several compatible, but
generally unrelated males. Among bucks,
dominance status is determined by the individual's physical size, strength, and
the experience each demonstrates during bouts of sparring and fighting. Generally, prime-age animals achieve the
highest dominance rank. This hierarchy
which develops among males within the group during the pre-rut period minimizes
conflict later on and enhances social order during the breeding season.
Early autumn is a time when the
whitetail's nutritional needs change, when patterns of deer range use change,
the social habits and use of space also change.
It is now when deer can be seen, often in large, mixed congregations,
especially in open areas of choice forage, where they intermingle, interact,
and communicate as all social beings must occasionally do.
of the male society must interact and make their visual and olfactory presence
known to other herd members before the rut.
The dominant buck also show's up and must partake in social festivities
during the pre-rut period. In all
likelihood, the mature bucks that inhabit an area are very familiar with one
another through social contacts made during the summer months. As the bucks' sex hormone secretion
increases, he tends to become more feisty and testy. The dominant individual must be ready to
accept challenges from other psychologically charged, rapidly maturing bucks,
defend his social position and advertise his superiority before breeding
The urge to procreate in the
whitetail world is so strong that it oftentimes ends in death or
As soon as the velvet is cleaned from
his antlers, Mr. Buck has nothing else on his mind. He begins rubbing, scraping and searching for
that first doe to come into estrus.
bucks have bulked up over the summer and now they are showing their stuff to
Several things determine the beginning of the rut. The amount of daylight, weather and
health. Once the rut is triggered the
personality of the does and especially the bucks is changed.
Does become more skittish and agitated. The bucks are constantly disrupting their
previous tranquility. Bucks begin
chasing the fawns and does. Some bucks
have killed and injured does and fawns.
Constantly on guard for these hormone crazed bucks, the does fail to get
the nutrition they so badly need during this time prior to the winter snow.
Post rut bucks, enter the winter
months with relatively low fat levels. This condition, if not remedied, will often
determine the difference between life and death.
We have observed that a
prolonged rut leaves bucks terribly debilitated with little time to recover when
the winter comes early in the Northland.
Many bucks weakened by the peak activity of the season will succumb to
malnutrition or predation in the weeks ahead.
the rut, the deer need to be subsidized in areas where cropland is not
available. In parks and close to cities
it is almost impossible for them to survive without human intervention. If we want to continue to enjoy this wildlife
and have our children see and appreciate these animals in the wild we cannot
ignore their plight and then wonder what happened to them. Their is no easy solution to this problem.
OLD FAVORITES THAT HAVE DIED
Big Head 2013
Bighead got into a fight with another buck on New Years eve and died as a result of his injuries.
We felt certain that Nugget would be the Dominant Buck on Pic Nic Island after the passing of Goldie, but that was not to be. Nugget couldn't stop breeding and we found him after he died in his tracks from exhaustion.
Freddy has certainly grown into a beautiful buck. He was hit by a vehicle in early December and we thought he was surely a goner. But as of March 1st he was still hanging in there, but a late snowstorm appeared to be too much and Freddy was killed by coyotes.
Again we had to say goodbye to another monster buck. Invader came in strong this fall but he too couldn't compete with traffic and died in October.
Even though Goldie died in February, it was hard to imagine not seeing him during the rut this year, so I thought I'd add a few pictures to remember him by.
The undisputed king of Pike island was found by the Boyscout camp dead.
Thor thrilled people when he decided to walk though the park or race down the bike trails after another buck in his territory.
Prince Dominater 2012
Prince was definitely Goldie's nemesis. After the battle in 2010, they continued to fight throughout the rut. In 2011, Prince retired to Pike where he spent the rut. After a long Minnesota winter I found him and his buddy, Goldie, together enjoying the summer in the graveyard across the river. That was the last I saw of Prince.
Always a crowd pleaser, Undertaker was hit by a car on H/W 13 just before the rut and died.
We did it!
After lots of procrastination we finally sat down and put together a calendar of our favorite bucks.
If you are interested in purchasing one for yourself, you can do so by clicking on this link:
To view more photos of whitetail bucks click on the photos above.