As the sweltering summer weather gives way to cooler August nights, seasonal change slowly creeps over the countryside. The change is quite evident in the local whitetail deer herd as their thin red summer coat is nearly gone; replaced by a soft velvety nap of new winter hair.
Now, instead of spending all of their time in the meadows feeding the young bucks are beginning to exhibit the very early onset of rutting behaviour. The rut is still two and one half months away but already this buck is displaying the lip-curl or flehmen response.
Although their antlers are still in velvet it does not stop two young bucks from engaging in a friendly sparring match.
In an unusual move this buck strikes his opponent with a downward swing of his front leg. Striking each other with legs and hooves is quite common among deer as they jockey for herd status but this is the first time I have observed a buck landing leg strikes during a sparring match.