Contributors to this thread:
How many fights?
As I got down after a long, cold, below freezing sit last night with next to no action the only deer I saw all weekend (a nice mature 4x4) he walked off and I got down.
5 minutes later what can only be described as an epic battle broke out in the darkness roughly 120 yards from my location. One buck finally beat the other about 5 minutes later about 50-60 yards from my location grunting as he finished chasing the other buck off. Being that the rut hasn’t even really kicked off yet, and this was no friendly battle it made me wonder - how many fights might s buck get in over the course of a fall? I know it would depend on sex ratios but has any research ever been done on the subject? I’m curious if anyone has any ideas.
Way too many variables to even make a guess. Deer all have different personalities so that comes into play. A giant dominate buck may not have to fight very much just based on his stature or personality.
I have seen much smaller bucks that are super aggressive and chase off bigger bucks.
depends on if they survive the first one or not. some of them never make it to number two
I've seen bucks of all sizes with broken antlers in early October well before the rut should be in which makes me think they start doing more than just sparring early on...
I think deer are like people. When you put a bunch of men together in a group and, they are all trying to win the attention of nearby females, stuff happens. Throw extra testosterone into the makes and, you could bet the bank it’s going to happen. So, I have no idea of the number but, I bet it’s a lot per deer
Good question. It also depends on species. The mulies in my area seem to establish the pecking order fairly early on without too many all-out battles. It's rare to see broken tines, even later in the season. On the other hand, I've hunted areas in Kansas where every other whitetail buck you see is busted up. I think it's pretty common knowledge that whitetails are more aggressive than mulies.
Deer densities and buck to doe ratios probably also has a big impact on how much fighting they do.
As others stated above, depends on the deer. Some are just wimps, and will back down if the other buck simply postures, and others seem to want to take on all comers. Years ago, I rattled in a really nice 8 pointer that had broken off one of his brow tines. A few days later, he came to the horns again, and had snapped off another tine, plus part of one of his main beams. 2-3 days after the second encounter, I rattled him in, yet again, and this time he was missing the entire right side of his rack. I think that buck would rather fight than screw! No telling how many scraps that buck was involved in that year.
These two were found dead last week already so it must be game on!!!
Hopefully the link works, this is to my Instagram with a series of pics capturing a little buck fight in mid December a couple years back. Obviously there are a lot of variables but to think they fight from October through December, it sure must take a toll on them.
Zim, I don’t think those little scuffles result in any real injuries. I’ve never seen a real serious fight other than on video.
Agreed, wasn’t a fight to the death there but enough to tear up the earth and push each other around. Even 3 months of those “little ones” would take a toll I would think. Mix in some intense ones and its a rough life in the woods...
I was watching a little scuffle Saturday similar to that, there was some moments of aggression mixed in there when someone would get but hurt.
Never mind..... I thought this was gonna be about hunting public land....... =D
I guess another way to phrase the question - what is the maximum number of fights you think a buck might get in over the course of a fall?
I suppose it would depend on how many mature bucks are in the area
I don’t think here it happens all that much
Here's a question. How do does get rips in their ears? I've got about 16 mule deer in my backyard right now. Almost every mature doe has a torn ear or two. I've seen does fight before, but I can't imagine hooves are causing the torn ears. Barbed wire, perhaps?
These two were found in the river a few miles from me last year. What a shame. I would have liked to have seen that tussle. I think most of the matchups are usually very short lived. They find out pretty quickly who the top dog is and #2 bails out pretty quickly. I’ve heard several major fights, but only have witnessed 2. One of those only lasted for about 15 seconds, but the other one went on for 3-4 minutes. It’s unbelievable how much noise they generate. A guy can’t even come close to imitating an actual fight, IMO.
My son killed one Saturday morning that had gouges on his neck and a front incisor knocked out.
I can't give a solid answer to your question, Adam, but I can say... I have a story very much like yours! I had shot a doe late one evening and she ran South down a creek bed. I got on the blood with little light left and it was spotty. After about 20 minutes, I was following with my head lamp. 5-10 more minutes passed by as I followed blood. Soon I was about 75 yards from a right of way when I heard deer walking, and they were close! Like under 50, close! I cut off my headlamp and seconds after I did, these bucks fought in front of me, in the dark, and it was one of the most amazing things I've ever witnessed, even if it was just my ears and nose. And... I've clanked a bunch of different sized antlers together and it's safe to say, they weren't 114" bucks. ;)
That selfious side of me wished I could've seen it. :)
I have seen two fights this year already. Seems like a lot of activity early this year.
I read a study on a 1 mile square deer enclosure the Michigan dnr had. Some of the info detailed how a big dominant buck had been found dead. He was the big honcho for a number of years. Now there were several bucks of the same caliber looking to take his spot . They found several dead bucks that fall and the buck fighting was intense until one of the bucks won out. Also the scrape and rub activity exploded and they believe the big guy had suppressed most of it in years past. Always made me wonder as I used to see lots of scraping and rubbing that suddenly slowed down. Then a farm over a giant old 10 point was killed and the next year the scrape activity picked up again.
T-Roy said "A guy can’t even come close to imitating an actual fight, IMO".
I absolutely agree. I witnessed one battle that lasted over 5 minutes. Leaves were flying 20 feet in the air, both deer were vocalizing heavily, and the clash of antlers could only be compared to two grown men swinging Louisville Sluggers like swords. I never imagined how violent and loud they could get. Both deer were in the 160-170" range. There is no way I could replicate that noise.
T-Roy x3. This is the 3rd time I've witnessed all out drag our wars. I remember the first time and then looking at my horns in the tree thinking, "what can I even do with this?" lol
Grey Ghost - I remember reading I believe it's the Wensels books where he was watching a bedded deer. I can't remember if it was a buck or doe. Either way, a hawk or owl swooped down and attempted to "catch it's ear" and split it. He surmised that you often see deer with splits and he hypothesized it could be birds of prey diving on the ears thinking they are prey as they twitch them. He saw it once, so it could happen often. I mean sometimes they sit in a snow storm and get covered up, with only an ear moving could be an easy mistake.
Yeah I think Barry mentions that in a video recently posted to YouTube in a seminar he gave. I could see how the ear would be mistaken when the body is motionless.
Interesting theory, APauls. We don’t have many birds of prey in my area. I’ve literally spent thousands of hours observing bedded deer on my property, and I’ve never seen a bird of prey attack one, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t happen...I guess.
It just seems odd to me that such a large percentage of my does have ripped ears.
I do have neighbors who raise buffaloes. Their fences are usually 6 strands tall. The deer often go thru those fences in between strands instead of jumping over. I’m inclined to think that’s where most of the ear rips come from.