In this shot I captured a dandy buck making a “Buck Rub”
Whitetail bucks rub trees with their antlers for different reasons. As I am not a deer I will not pretend to fully understand their motivation.
In late summer and early autumn bucks will rub trees as the velvet sheds from their antlers. As the rut approaches, the intensity of the rubbing increases with bucks doing mock battle with small trees. During this time the buck’s neck will thicken significantly as he builds strength for the battles to come. Most battles however are avoided, being settled by displays of dominance instead.
The buck in this photo is doing precisely this. Moments before I took this photo he had successfully stared down an opponent and followed up the encounter with the attack on this tree as the other buck slowly moved off watching his every move.
It is good for the deer that pitched battles are not that common for their headgear makes for a formidable weapon. Sometimes they will lock antlers; being unable to separate, a slow death will follow. Other times and I believe far more common a buck will be speared by his opponent’s antlers and this too can result in death.