Riddle me this:
Took the bow in the woods one last time this morning. I hunted on a 100-acre section of woods behind my house. At about 7:30, I had nine deer come from behind me. 7 does, 1 button buck, and 1 young 4-pointer. The 4-pointer was bringing up the rear, but still part of the group. I've seen him with this group of does/fawns all summer.
One of the does must have got a whiff of a leaf or branch I rubbed on the way to my stand, because she sniffed a sapling, blew, and 6 of the does took off. The 4-pointer, button buck and small doe stayed behind. They were about 15 yards from my stand. The 4-point acted nervous, and checked me out pretty good, but I never made a move and he slowly started feeling comfortable again. He browsed a little more and made his way 10 yards in front of me, then took a turn behind some brush and went on his way to the bedding area. I could have EASILY killed him, but I let him walk. The button buck and small doe still lingered behind. About 8:00, my wife left to go shopping and let the dog out. So, shortly after that, here comes my dog, Emma (I'm a good 200 yards behind my house ... she just wanders the woods sometimes). So, poof, the deer see her and they're gone.
But my question is: Why is this small buck still sticking with this group of does, just like he did during the summer? It's like he's just "one of them". Is it still too early for him to be separating? Is he too young? Does he have an identity crisis? Is he gay?
I know this deer is 1-1/2 years old. Watched him last year as a very small fork-horn. His antlers are nearly black, very pretty deer. I'd like to see what he becomes.
But ... is the rut just THAT slow that he's hanging out and feeding with the does just like during the summer? There was no chasing, no grunting, no sign of rut activity AT ALL with this deer. He was just hanging out.
What's your take on this?