Alsheimer: Bucks Still Fight in January

Bucks Still Fight in December, January

Bucks are still sparring in late December and January, but hopefully not too much (Photo copyright Charles J. Alsheimer)

A mature whitetail buck’s drive for dominance never ends. There is no question that a buck’s aggressiveness peaks in November in the North. However, when the rut ends fighting does not. It has been my experience that during December and early January just as many injuries and broken antlers occur as in November.

A case in point can be illustrated with the accompanying photo I took around the first of the year. Both of these bucks are mature and because they shared the same home range it was only a matter of time before they tried to settle the issue of who would be the dominant buck. In the end the buck on the left was more vocal and aggressive, which caused the buck on the right to back down.

During my 20+ years of raising whitetails for behavioral study I’ve seen many buck fights take place long after the rut was over. Though most lasted less than a minute several went on for over five minutes. When a fight lasts longer than five minutes at this time of year the end result is not good because the exhaustion that overcomes a buck can be devastating.


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