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Fallow Deer Bucks – Full On Scrappers
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Fallow deer bucks take no prisoners during the rut. This is most evident where the deer population is high. Over the years I’ve been lucky to watch a couple of mega pads from a distance and see how the various bucks interact. A mega pad is one that consists of up to fifty or so deer with a lot of does in residence. The peak of the rut is about mid to late April and on a mega pad the action is particularly frenetic at this time of year. The mature bucks are croaking like bullfrogs, constantly on the move: the does are in a large herd near the centre where the top buck is, and around the edges are satellite younger bucks and spikers. All are hyped up with testosterone and frustration. Handy vegetation has taken a thrashing.

Every now and then on a mega pad a couple of evenly matched bucks square off and then they go for murder. Powering off from a standing start they rocket at each other with clattering antlers hoping to push the rival backwards while simultaneously viciously raking his face and neck. The buck, pushed backwards, can’t avoid or break away from the attack or he will be impaled in the gut or flanks. Fights can last for a long time and deaths do occur when a fleeing buck cops a blow in a lethal area. Wounds are common. I have come across bucks missing eyes, carrying heavy limps and with split ears and huge haematomas. It is a vicious spectacle and takes its toll on the victor as well as the victim. Winning bucks are smelly, worn out skeletons by season’s end.

Hunters who secure their trophies at the end of the rut are virtually guaranteed to find the antlers are damaged. It could be broken off tines or points, or snapped off parts of a palm. Some would say this adds to their character. Animals that go to war are going to damage their weapons. For those wanting tidy heads then late March through to early April is a great time to get an undamaged head before the war escalates.

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