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The Rut ( or how stupid can a buck be and get away with it?)

The rut is a time of year for the buck that brings his greatest risk, the hunter, in direct contact with the buck's greatest immediate need, to procreate. Big bucks do things during this period that sometimes defy logic when they move boldly during daylight hours and expose themselves in a manner that gives the hunter the one chance at success that he needs to collect a trophy animal.


Horn Rattling
One of the more exciting things that started in Texas many years ago and has recently spread throughout the white-tail's range is the use of rattling antlers ("horns") to get nearby bucks to react to and approach the hunter. It can be very unnerving to be on the ground and have a normally docile deer come at full charge with his hair standing up looking for a fight. The hair on the back of your neck may stand up too!

Many "experts" tell of the correct method for horn rattling, but my experience has been that when the conditions are right, bucks (and does) will come no matter how badly you perform. Recently Texas wildlife biologists did a scientific study of rattling and they concluded that a low wind morning using a very long (3 minutes), and very loud sequence (separated by 7 minute quiet periods) was the most effective. The loud sequence also involved stomping the ground and beating the brush as loud as possible. In addition, they found that the hunter on the ground rarely saw more than 1 in 5 (20%) of the bucks that responded to the rattling sequences.



The Battles for Dominance
Bucks, like most animals including man, begin the process of establishing territorial rights very early in life. For the buck the right becomes paramount when the rut begins, and he will dominate or be dominated when the time comes to breed. Bucks often lose 20 percent of their pre-rut body weight during this period.

The buck as seen on the right, has gotten into a serious conflict with another buck while fighting. If you have ever tried to break an antler, you will have some idea of the forces required to break this bucks main beam at a place where I'm sure it has a circumference of 4". It isn't too unusual for me to photograph a buck one week and find him a week later with only half of his headgear!

Additional pictures and comments.