Alsheimer: Let’s Get Ready to Rumble: – Old Bucks Get Aggressive In Summer Too

By Charles J. Alsheimer

On Aug. 12 I got a preview of what is to come this fall. I was photographing several deer in a food plot when two velvet-antlered mature bucks decided to get a jump on this fall’s rut. One of the bucks bristled its fur, pulled his ears back, and walked toward the other buck that was bedded at the edge of the plot. The bedded buck watched intently as the aggressor exhibited what is known as a threat walk, which can be clearly seen in the accompanying photo.

Alsheimer Deer & Deer Hunting

Mature bucks can get ornery and aggressive – even while their antlers are still covered in late summer velvet. (photo copyright Charles J. Alsheimer)

What occurred next was very interesting. The bedded buck jumped up and bounded into a patch of tall goldenrod, with the aggressive buck on its heels. Though I lost sight of them in the tall vegetation I was able to hear a loud snort-wheeze, followed by the sound of the bucks coming together. I could not see them in head to head combat – but I could see the 5-foot-high goldenrod being flattened as they pushed each other back and forth. The encounter was over in less than 30 seconds when one of the bucks bolted for the safety of a nearby creek bottom.

Is this behavior common? It all depends on how many mature bucks you have in your population. If they’re present this kind of action can occur. By mid-August northern buck’s antlers are in the process of hardening, and are strong enough to withstand minor skirmishes like the one that I witnessed.

– Charlie

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