Whitetail Watching, 2019

This is the best time of year to observe deer, especially if quality, open habitats are accessible. Populations are high, deer are preoccupied with eating, and bucks are warming up for the breeding season.

Since eating is the top priority, mixed groups are common and warrant close scrutiny. They’re full of surprises! Variations in sex, age, condition, color and behavior soon appear.

A “bachelor group”, common social behavior in summer; note the tumor on the middle buck

Two bucks in the frame, but my attention is elsewhere!

Early territorial behavior: scent-marking an overhead branch (1 of 2)

A mature buck leaving the hay field for dessert in the adjacent brush lot: wild apples

Bucks are being bucks, while does are parenting. Fawns are weaned, but still need TLC (1 of 3)

Photos by NB Hunter (Aug. 31 – Sept. 5, 2019). All rights reserved.

7 thoughts on “Whitetail Watching, 2019

  1. I could likely do without the adults tearing down branches from the old apple trees, but you managed to make them look really good. The twins, on the other hand, are beyond cute. I’d be willing to sacrifice some apples to those darlings!

  2. Nice collection of various ages and activity of the deer this time of year, Nick. I actually love that deer keep trees “trimmed” a big here on our place. They love fruit trees (leaves and small browse – not just the fruit), elm, redbud, and oak. In addition to trimming young branches from trees, I’ve been foraging for cat brier and canes from wild, thorny thickets in the orchard for Tukker, or orphaned deer.

    That “tumor” on one of the three bucks pictured reminded me of a time when Daisy (our first orphaned deer) sported the same type of swelling. The “tumor” was movable, soft and pliable, and quite large. We noticed after several weeks it vanished and her neck was normal again. We often wondered if it was from an injury. I never found documentation on such a condition. Your photo was the first time I had seen anything similar.

    • My academic background centered on the foraging habits and impacts of elk and deer in PA and I continue to walk that trail even as the decades pass. In this locale, favored food items (excluding farm crops) include new growth on ash, oak and maple; acorns; apple twigs and fruit; jewelweed and other forbs; etc. I remember cat briar in PA and West Virginia but see little of that group in central New York. Wild grapes are plentiful, sometimes a nuisance, and I’ve watched deer browsing the foliage. I thought you might weigh in on the tumor. I expect to see that deer again and will report. I’m sure the “drop tine” buck in the #2 photo has atypical antler growth on one side due to an injury, probably on the road. He sometimes limps a bit when walking. I’m feeling a bit of urgency now as far as my deer watching goes. I’ll lose a prime observation site next week with another cutting of hay and, more important, everything changes on Oct. 1 when the archery season opens. One goal continues to elude me – two mature bucks sparring for dominance. Enjoy the season!

      • I hope you have the experience of observing bucks sparring, and will be able to score some great images while you’re at it. I have only seen does “hoof” for dominance and of course fawns and yearlings hoofing and sparring. For the youngsters, it’s not a serious battle – more skill building and play!

        Some observations that I make, are not well-documented. We’ve even had a state biologist here to help us make our property more whitetail friendly. In conversation, some plants that he said were of no value to the deer population, I disagreed, having observed the local deer grazing on or nibbling at. I have viewed a few oddities that some hunters have never seen. It’s a continual study. I find deer fascinating.

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