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Season of the Buck

Hau, Mitakúye Oyás'iŋ.

The beauty of a White-tailed buck in pristine condition for the rut is unmatched. A large set of antlers hinged to the head of this animal finally takes it shape for the winter months to come. These large bone, tissue and vessel filled antlers can add a couple pounds of weight to a white-tailed buck, with larger racks nearing 10 pounds. Once again I was out on an adventure searching for birds and owls primarily for most of the day, but the deer came as a pleasant surprise.

I started the day counting ducks, just a short morning out looking for waterfowl. While the ducks on the pond were quite scarce a few mallards bobbed up and down on calm waves. It was a cold morning, one of the first where the frozen air crept into your bones. While stationed on the shore facing the lake from a small hill nearby I heard a rustle.

I looked up and to meet my gaze stood a 10 point buck! We watched each other eyes locked and I soon saw a doe positioned right behind him. This deer couple had just ran from the woods to the clearing and they took a minute to catch their breath. The buck towered over the dry field and as soon as they had come he began the chase again and slipped away like a ghost in the woods. It was nice to start of the day with a random encounter buck that would foreshadow the day.

My next stop would bring me in search of bucks. It is buck season and buck fever is all around us! At this park I hiked around looking and listening for any signs of white-tail activity. A few small and average bucks passed by in the distance and I ran across a few does and young deer that had been born this spring. White-tailed deer are one of my most encountered wildlife species so I have enjoyed photographing all types of deer for years.

One of the the better sized bucks I ran into had a high curved rack that stood out to me. A buck I have encountered in the past, I watched as it slipped between the grass for the perfect shot. Dried grass, leaves and tree bark all help aid the white-tails at this time of year. They can stand perfectly still and you could walk right past them not even noticing them.

Even the small deer would take in the actions as this extremely young buck was using all its senses taking in the rut for its first time. The lip curl displayed by this youngsters gives you a head on view of how the buck takes in a larger whiff of scents.

A few onlookers watched as I traversed the woods. This young deer stayed close to mom for protection.

A third park visited brought in the next bucks. I was with a friend in the afternoon in search of birds. Many waterfowl filled this lake including: mallards, coots, geese and a northern pintail. All kinds of other bird chips filled the air as the waterfowl sang a chorus of their own.

As we headed back to the car with one more stop in mind I heard movement in the tree line. To my surprise another buck stood with his focus zoned in on the female. This buck was a couple hundred feet off but was in the open on the edge of the parking lot which we had parked at. It ran after the doe into the woods so we jumped in the car and drove to a parking spot ahead of the deer to intersect them. Th deer continued in our direction as we entered the woods with them.

I experienced this buck doing something I have never noticed before. This deer was drooling with multiple saliva drops coming out as we watched. At first I thought it was buck heavy in the rut but as I looked into it more it may be a symptom of CWD (Chronic Wasting Disease). This disease is common in deer and can cause a decay in their health. This deer continued to drool but still maintained the look of a strong deer not ready to slow down.

Below this same buck was rubbing his head and antlers up against a tree. This is the first time I was able to photograph what is known as a "rub" or tree impacted by a bucks during the rut season. A large neck and healthy set of antlers on this buck helped it scrape the bark which echoed across the forest. No other signs of ailments were noticed from this large buck.

The final park came as sunset neared. Another park I did not expect to come across a buck. While out searching for owls my buddy and I saw a few great-horned owls. We were actually looking for other owls but could not find them. A small white-tail buck jumped from the brush and the deer had once again showed up for me. A second buck, in pursuit of a doe, caught my eye. This buck had an unusual rack that had been worn down in some areas. This rough and chipped looking rack gave this individual some character. Like a warrior returning from battle this buck appeared unfazed and ready to fight for another doe. He snorted at us and chased his prize. I still find this unique rack my favorite one the day, no two bucks are the same!

Another shot of the same worn buck in an open field.

The buck that got away. Bucks always leave you with hope for more shots in the future! With rut in full swing enjoy the (nonlethal) hunt! All parks and locations will not be shared for the safety of our four-legged relatives.

Pilámayaye, Thank you for visiting,

Taṡuŋka Opi (Michael)

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