Wildlife Photography By MHD -
Autumn is the Whitetail Deer's Most Hectic Season.

          The elusive 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.
          Among 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.
          Members 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 starts.
          The urge to procreate in the whitetail world is so strong that it oftentimes ends in death or mutilation.  
          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.
          The bucks have bulked up over the summer and now they are showing their stuff to prospective mates.
          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. 
          Following 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.

Big Head 2013
Bighead got into a fight with another buck on New Years eve and died as a result of his injuries.

 NUGGET  2013   

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 2013
 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.

Invader 2013

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. 

Goldie 2013

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.

Unicorn, named for the extra brow tine which in 2007 protruded from the center of his forehead.  Here he is displaying his dominance as the sun rises behind him,
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.
Children of Kosovo
The Panflute by Runa Pacha
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