Deer feed in and around the house the year ‘round, eating natural vegetation, drops from our apple tree and plants in the garden. They bed beneath some of the shrubs and small conifers and hide young fawns in patches of dense vegetation. Sometimes we see them, sometimes not. During spring and summer most of the deer we see are does and fawns; most years we see an occasional buck too – and some years a buck spends enough time here that we see him with some regularity.
On the hill behind the house a camera trap catches photos of deer throughout the year. Although I pulled the camera traps out of the Big Woods weeks ago, I kept four on the hill behind the house.
This summer the camera traps on the hill only produced three photos of bucks with developing antlers. Two of those were of the same 4-point buck taken in quick succession. The third picture was of two 8-point bucks traveling together – deer that we never actually saw ourselves.
And that was the way it was until the bucks’ hormones began pushing them into the rut and they started to seek out does. In the past month six different bucks appeared on photos from the camera traps –
The camera traps also caught some interesting deer behavior. White-tailed deer have scent glands between their toes, on their hind legs and in several spots on their faces. Like most mammals, deer live in a world of scents that we, mere humans, can’t enter and that is largely incomprehensible to us. These scents apparently convey information about the individual animal’s age, sex, breeding status, health, vigor, place in the dominance hierarchy and ….
The cameras caught the large buck rubbing his forehead gland and perhaps his preorbital glands on a small shrub and leaving his scent there –
Nine minutes later a doe checked the scent –
And 20 hours later a young buck stopped to check the scent –