Alsheimer: Pre-Season Play – Bucks Sparring in September

By Charles J. Alsheimer

Throughout the month of September sparring makes up a big part of a buck’s behavior in and around areas they frequent. Though sparring can turn ugly, most encounters are little more than playful shoving matches between bucks.

Alsheimer Deer & Deer Hunting

Early fall sparring matches are not uncommon as bucks determine the hierarchy of their competition. (photo copyright Charles J. Alsheimer)

The most common sparring matches are between subordinate and dominant bucks. Because a dominant buck is familiar with all of the subordinate bucks in his core area they will usually tolerate a subordinate’s desire to engage in a sparring match. Many researchers believe that early-season sparring is essential for determining hierarchy in a local buck population.

The majority of sparring matches last anywhere from one to several minutes. The action can be limited to that of the two bucks merely bringing their antlers together and twisting their heads back and forth – to serious attempts to push each other around. When the latter occurs the match can turn ugly, especially if the bucks are evenly matched in age and antler size.

– Charlie

 

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