It is Not Easy Being a Buck.

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drj3 Veteran Member • Posts: 9,305
It is Not Easy Being a Buck.

While I was out looking for birds, my wife told me there was a buck (White Tailed Deer) in the lawn approaching one of our resident females (2.5 years old) who was with her fawn from the spring. The female and fawn are always around and have no fear of my wife or I. I quickly went out my front gate and shot the first uncropped image. However, it was obvious that the 600mm on the 2X crop was far too long a focal length for anything other than a deer portrait.

I knew the buck wasn’t leaving immediately so I could change my lens. Female White Tailed Deer are only in estrus for about 24 hours (though Wikipedia will tell you up to 72 hours). If they are not mated, they will come into another estrus 28 days later.

I changed lenses to my 50-200 SWD lenses and went out a lower gate where I was between the buck and the doe. The buck initially moved behind a tree line and then reappeared in an opening to get closer to the doe (image #2). This image was extremely difficult to color correct. The buck was lighted from behind by a low afternoon sun. He looked like a large chocolate deer, so image #2 is a compromised color corrected image where I attempt at least a minimal correction to balance the color of the deer and the trees/shrubs.

If you look at this image you can easily see what I had not noticed when taking the initial portrait images. The buck is missing all the points on the left antler.

Then the buck informed the photographer that the photographer was between him and the object of his affections. He had fought for the right to mate the doe and won and so nothing was going to prevent him from the prize. Image #3 is the initial image as the buck started to run quickly toward me. I wisely moved back behind my fence (always have an escape route for a deer in rut or a large male bear) and the buck halted his approach. The injury to the right side of the buck’s face is more obvious in this image.

Images #4 and #5 are after the buck stopped his approach toward me and turned to go through the opening in the shrubs (right of the image) in order to circle behind the doe. In image #5 the injury to the face is much more obvious. I could not see any punctures from what are probably injuries obtained in a fight with another buck. It is possible that the facial injuries occurred when the points broke from the left antler.

Immediately after the last image, the buck ran through the opening in the shrubs to the right and then the doe and fawn escaped by running very close by me, quickly followed by the buck. Unfortunately the running deer where much too close to photograph with the 50mm minimum focal length of the zoom lens. My 12-100mm f4 might have been a better choice than the 50-200mm. I don’t know if this escape is part of the mating ritual or if the doe was simply not ready to mate with this buck. About an hour later the doe and fawn returned. If they mated, I should have two new fawns to photograph next spring. If they didn’t mate, I will probably have another buck visit in about one month.

All images uncropped.

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