Friday, October 30, 2009

The Whitetail Rut Explodes At Shenandoah National Park

The mating season for whitetail deer, or the rut as it is commonly known, usually kicks into overdrive during the last week in October or the first week in November. There has been little signs of rutting activity here, other than a few desultory sparring matches between small bucks.

A Thursday morning trip to Big Meadows at Shenandoah National Park in Virginia found a far different set of circumstances, with the rut going full bore.

8 Point Buck Chasing Doe

The bucks are actually ready to mate before the does are ready to stand, so this is the time that one often sees a doe running with a buck in hot pursuit.

Hot Pursuit

Bucks make lip curls, also known as flehmening, to concentrate the odor of a doe's urine in their nostrils. From this they are able to ascertain whether a doe is in heat, or if they should look elsewhere for a receptive female.

The Lip Curl Or Flemen


Checking The Doe's Scent

It seems that the rut is triggered by a combination of the time of year and weather conditions, with activity being more intense in cold weather, and slacking off during warm periods. Big Meadows at SNP is located high atop the Blue Ridge and temperatures are usually ten degrees or more colder than in the valley floor, or my home area, which likely explains why the rut is already underway there. It is almost certain that activity will explode here too, after the next northwest cold front passes.

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22 comments:

Holly said...

outstanding photos.

GreensboroDailyPhoto said...

Love your header and your photos of these majestic creatures!

Teena in Toronto said...

Not to many deer in my 'hood.

I played too :)

Sandy Kessler said...

most interesting I learn so much here.sandy

chubskulit said...

Lovely shots!

Boo! Check out my Spooky Critters

Carolyn Ford said...

Such beautiful shots of amazing critters! Really nice!

This Is My Blog - fishing guy said...

Willard: Those are wonderful captures of the buck in all its phases of the rut. That buck will be a hunter's prize.

eileeninmd said...

Interesting, Great photos of the buck and the doe!

Cezar and Léia said...

How nice, and you are very talented with photography! Congrats!
Happy Camera critters
purrs and love
Luna - We love LUNA

maiaT said...

Very beautiful, quality pictures.
These detailed close-ups are amazing.
Have a nice weekend!

Coy said...

Fab lip-curl shots bro! And to think that I was stuck in the office :(

itsmynature said...

Flehmening... I'll have to remember that! Excellent images, Willard. Is that the new 7D?

www.itsmynaturephotography.com

Adrienne in Ohio said...

Very interesting post with great photos!

Brad Myers said...

Great shots Willard. Did you try out the new camera for video? If so how did you like it. I guess when I have a few days off next week I will need to make a drive down in hope of catching soem whitetail.

Willard said...

I am sorry that I forgot to note the camera information. These shots were taken with the 7D. The first two shots are with the 70-200mm 2.8L and the last two with the 500mmF4.

Willard said...

Also the camera does work reasonably well for video. I hope to post some clips within a day or so and write some more detailed commentary about it.

√ Abraham Lincoln said...

Fantastic photos.I like your lens better than mine.

√ Abraham Lincoln said...

Fantastic photos.I like your lens better than mine.

Tom said...

A great posting as always, and very interesting to read Willard... I will be popping back to see what else you capture of the rut.

madcobug said...

Great shots. Nature is amazing. Helen

HANNIBAL said...

Fantastic photos! The lip curling and such are amazing captures! How can you possibly get so close?

Willard said...

Most Shenandoah bucks, especially in the Big Meadows area are very accustomed to humans and ignore them, but this was still probably 40-50 yards away with the 500mm and then cropped quite a bit.