Protective Buck Guards His Lady Friend
A whitetail deer buck with a very rare antler formation protects his mate. This buck is literally a living fortress, as his lethal antlers—as menacing as a briar patch, form a moving fence to barricade his lover from predators. The predator in this case is the video-grapher, who probably isn’t interested in stealing his mate, but the buck doesn’t know that, and probably doesn’t care.
The female, or doe is almost invisible, and the buck itself is superbly camouflaged in the early winter, late autumn defoliated deciduous forest. He’s a rather handsome specimen, and we can see why his lady friend is attracted to him. He’s a very muscular chap, and it’s a good bet he can back up the threat with punishing malice, if pushed into a confrontation. Those strangely atypical antlers look unusually cruel. Any challenger to his domain must be pitied.
Bucks replace their antlers every year, and they are never quite the same from year to year. We can only guess if this buck grows a similarly strange antler formation every year. Antler deformations are caused by a few different factors, and there is even an informal science built around diagnosing such abnormalities, due to the fact that hunters like to collect antlers. Antler shapes even have colloquial names, like “hole-in-the-horn”, “Del Austin”, and “Sammy Walker”, which are names based upon the hunters who killed the beasts sporting such anomalies.
We’ll call this guy Thorn Bush, because that’s what his jumbled bouquet of spikes look like. It’s likely that ol’ Thorn Bush will pass on these antlers, if they are indeed a mutation, and not the product of a nutritional deficit or injury, or disease. Why should we assume his peculiar phenotype should be passed down? Because he will probably have children, which is the whole point in the deer kingdom of securing a mate. And secure a mate he does, with great effect. The mate is there, just give the two some quiet time alone, shake well, let it sit for about 201 days (whitetail deer gestation period), and voila, you have youngins.
We can almost rule out the nutritional factor, if the healthy look of this buck is any indication. He doesn’t look like he wants to fight, but lowers his head in a defensive posture, demonstrating his willingness to engage, if the camera person pushes him into it. He has a limited perimeter, and he would rather keep that circle of territory rather than charge and have to then defend a larger area of territory. At least for now, that is. After his children are grown up a little, maybe he will consider taking on a bigger harem, which would necessarily mean more land to defend.
The person behind the camera is taking a chance on not being charged. There are a few videos out there of whitetail bucks charging hunters. Deer aren’t predisposed to attack, though, and when they do, it is usually during rut. That’s the period when you see velvet on their antlers.