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The Rut

White-tailed bucks experience a period of high energy and hormones.

By Wyman Meinzer

It is a ritual as old as the land itself: a need to propagate the species, to breed and sustain life. And in Texas, the whitetail “rut” is probably the most anticipated of all mating rituals, a period of high energy for the deer, bucks and doe alike, as hormone levels peak and the need to breed is often accompanied by activities defined by “rubs,” “scrapes” and an aggressive competition between males.

Indeed, it is the season of change within the population of antlered species, and one that lends mystique to those people who engage the outdoors each winter in the Lone Star State. 

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Two bucks engage in a fierce battle.


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This magnificent specimen of a whitetail in full rut exhibits a swollen neck from hormone changes and the work of rubbing scrapes.


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Bucks secrete pheromones through glands located beneath their eyes. This whitetail is rubbing branches on a mesquite, leaving these secretions behind — a not-so-subtle message that he is ready when a receptive doe happens by.


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A younger buck gives ground to a bigger whitetail during the rut.


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Sparring prior to the beginning of the rut is common among whitetail bucks.


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A South Texas dominant buck guards his doe from satellite bucks, usually younger animals who will yield to any aggressive action taken by the guardian buck.

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