Friday, November 16, 2012

White-Tail Chemical Ecology

I accummulate hundreds and hundreds of White-Tail Deer pictures and video clips throughout the year.  I realize that countless pictures of deer get a bit boring and repetitive.  This is evidenced by the fact that my blog entries related to deer consistently have the lowest numbers of views compared to my other entries. 

Therefore, I try to limit the number of entries I write that are focused solely on deer.  I obviously can't help showing you all any large bucks I happen to get (at least once or twice a year)....they are just too impressive when in their prime not to be enamoured with them.  Yet, I try and focus deer-related posts to something specific regarding interesting behavior or phenomena....and I think the interactions below fall into that category.

The video clips below provide a bit of insight into how frequently bucks and does return to investigate a scent location....and also for how long they will return to this spot over time.  Granted, this is a sample size of 1....but it's still neat to see.

You'll also note that there is not a single clip that occurs during the daylight.  Even though the behavior below is occuring outside of the rifle hunting season in our area, most of my pics/videos of deer activity throughout the fall and winter (particularly for the large bucks) happens at night.  There's tons of deer out there....but they're just too dang "smart".  I often wonder if pressure from hunting hasn't acted as a force that drives natural selection to "favor" individuals that more often operate at night....and thus don't get shot! 

But, that's a different topic of discussion.

The camera that took these clips is mounted on the trunk of a very young tree.  The trunk is pretty narrow and the branches are low to the ground (in fact, I had to trim some away just to access the tree trunk for camera mounting). 

The camera was deployed to this location on the morning of 9/26/2012.


9:23 pm:  Doe browsing a bit, but also stopping by to investigate some fox urine that I put out.

11:28 pm: One of The Brutes comes by to investigate....

9/27 to 9/28/2012 (evening to early morning)

7:24 pm: A doe (perhaps the same one from the previous night) once again is sniffing around the same spot...

10:07 pm: The Brute comes by to get a nose-full.....
He then moves towards another low-hanging branch.  He appears to browse a bit, but also deposit scent from his forehead glands....

11:32 pm:  A small buck stops by.  I think he's part of  set of twins that belong to the doe that visits this spot.  He does some browsing, but also appears to investigate the scent from the larger male....

 1:42 am:  The young feller comes back to sniff around a bit.

1:46 am: There's a-doings a-transpirin' off to the right of our field of view!  Something is shaking the limbs of the tree the camera is mounted on, and kicking up the grass.  You can also barely see a pair of eyes watching cautiously in the background (far left).

You can probably guess who's responsible for the ruckus (the little buck also skee-daddles in the background).

......wait for it.....

"Holy .....!  What was that all about?!"
9/28/2012 (evening)

8:59 pm: A doe sniffs the branch that appears to be a despository for scent from the forehead glands of the big male...
For the next two days, the doe and the young bucks come back and sniff around some more.

9/30 to 10/1/2012 (evening to early morning)

11:39 pm: The Brute comes back to invesitage his scent branch...

1:03 am:  There's another ruckus off-screen....and then....

...wait for it....
The Crown!


Although the buck meandered by this spot again once or twice, I never saw the back and forth investigation of scent after the first of October.  The camera was moved from this location on November 14, 2012.  So all of that activity was occuring over a period of about 5 days.  An important caveat: almost immediately after I mounted the camera...I was getting clips of this behavior.  Who knows how long it was going on prior to me mounting the camera.

It is worth noting that I started seeing the first actual buck scrapes on the ground in about mid-October at this site.  You may also recall that I first started seeing velvet rubbed off of antlers (at a different site) on September 8, 2012.

It is also fun to go all the way back to the beginning of the year and look at when the antlers first starting showing on these bucks. At the site where the video clips above were taken, antler nubs first became evident on April 17, 2012.

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