Most days after FD takes off for work, I enjoy my second cup of coffee on the back porch. I read a little from my iPad and watch the woodlands wake up. The Cardinals are always the first to begin chirping and flying about. Soon chickadees, titmice, and mockingbirds join in, while a few of the gentle, mourning doves settle in to warm their wings in the rising sun at the top of the slope. Lately, I have also observed a few vultures begin their morning flight, gliding high above the woodlands. This particular morning, I was happy to see a few deer wandering in from the willow area of the orchard. Mama and the triplets (whom we now refer to as “Momanem”, which is southern slang for “Mom and them”), Scarlet and her twin yearlings, Split-ear, and two other does I was not familiar with, were taking turns at the feeders. And earlier, a doe with twins a few weeks older than the triplets, visited the feeders. With all of the recent rain and the nearby river about to flood over its banks, I wondered if the local population of mother deer and their kids were seeking higher ground. Regardless, it was unusual and interesting to see so much activity in the woodlands. With cooler morning temperatures, the deer were all feeling a bit frisky. There was lots of play among the fawns, while the does hoofed at each other to show dominance. But back further in the woods, it looked like a more frantic chase was going on. Using my zoom lens to get a better look, I realized it was an adult doe being chased by a young buck. This cavorting is normal pre-rut activity.
Realizing I was not going to be able to identify the buck with my zoom lens, I went inside to retrieve my binoculars. It did not take long to identify the yearling buck as Split-ear’s brother, who I had seen chasing the triplet’s mama a few times recently. It’s normal to see young bucks chasing does this early in mating season, and it appeared that Split-ear’s brother only managed to irritate the does. I could not help but feel a bit sorry for the young fella, as it is his first year with real antlers and his first experience with testosterone in his system. But we have seen game camera video where we noticed Split-ear’s brother hanging with Spike and the buck we feel might be Ronnie, so it was good he had found a couple of young bucks to buddy up with – for now. It will not be long before Spike and Ronnie will be seriously participating in real rut activity, and Split-ear’s brother will likely be run off, leaving him to find a female in the outer realms of an area dominated by bigger, well-seasoned bucks.
Soon my attention shifted to activity going on down at the feeders. With so many does down below, there was a skirmish about establishing dominance. Even among the yearlings and fawns, there is a pecking order. The runt of the triplets tried to seek protection from its mother, while its siblings were chased by Split-ear and another doe. Round and round this went, until oddly, the cavorting stopped and all attention was focused on the wildlife water tub. I shifted my view to the object of their stares as well. It was Split-ear’s brother.
Zooming in, I couldn’t believe my eyes! Here he was again… having adorned his antlers with a small branch of leaves! I recently posted nighttime game camera footage of this activity in “Woodland Headdress” and, with this latest antic, I am now wondering if he actually enjoys the feel of a frilly addition to his crown of antlers. Then again, it may be as simple as finding a sparring companion in a nearby shrub or bush and coming away with a victory trophy. I contemplated this as the does and fawns sauntered off to the willows and on to the slough area of the orchard, while Split-ear’s brother followed a distance behind, sporting his new, leafy hat. I know he will find his own way during his first rut, and maybe wearing some leafy bling will help in his endeavor to get a girl! At the very least, he seems to have come up with an interesting way of getting attention.
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