A Young Buck and Seasons of Change

This simple post was a year in the making. Last October I hinge cut an apple branch to remove it from a shooting lane but keep it alive as food for foraging white-tails or cottontails. I moved to another pruning project nearby and within minutes a button buck fawn was eating apples from the cut limb. It’s not unusual for fawns, especially males, to behave like this before maturing and learning to avoid humans. However, this deer would prove to be different and continue to show an unusual degree of tolerance for people.

Assuming a pre-rut home range of a square mile (640 acres), my property is less than 5% of the young buck’s cruising radius and close encounters have therefore been infrequent. I’ve had just a handful of photo opportunities since the spring thaw, some of which didn’t pan out because I was ill-prepared or he didn’t come clear of thickets.

This post is a sequence of images of this unusual white-tail buck, documenting his growth, development and feeding habits from early spring through early fall.

Late winter/early spring: weak and malnourished at the end of a long, harsh winter; searching for leftovers around  bird feeders; 30March2015

Late spring: the long road to recovery; early antler development and foraging on lush new growth; 6June2015

The last days of spring; 19June2015

Mid summer: antlers prominent and growth nearly complete; 11August2015

Mid summer; 11August2015

Late summer: antler growth complete; velvet drying up and soon to be rubbed off; 12September2015

Late summer; 12September2015

The dried velvet was rubbed off and the antlers polished the weekend of September 19 – 20. I didn’t see him again for over two weeks and feared the worst – a highway or hunting statistic. Then, magically, there he was, standing proud in the late afternoon sun, lured into view by the sweet aroma of carpets of wild apples fermenting on the ground. No longer a scrawny, undernourished fawn, he had nearly doubled in size and was now a robust yearling buck, primed for his first rut.

Early fall: the yearling buck in prime, pre-rut condition; 7October2015

Early fall: munching on an apple; 7October2015

Photos by NB Hunter. © All Rights Reserved.

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7 thoughts on “A Young Buck and Seasons of Change

    • Thanks for the nice comments. I often see this sort of behavior with does and fawns but, after nearly 30 years on the property, never with an antlered buck. At this stage he is likely to relocate, possibly 5-10 miles from his birthplace. Needless to say, I view it as once in a lifetime opportunity and am trying to seize the moment!

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