Saturday, September 3, 2016

Whitetail Bucks Now Shedding Velvet.

Bachelor Group Of Whitetail Bucks In Pennsylvania Elk Country-4K Video Still Capture
This summer I have been filming and photographing wildlife as much as I ever have, but one would not know it by looking at this blog.  I am usually in the field each morning and evening photographing and observing whitetail deer when I am not in elk country.  It has been a busy summer what with a major refurbishing project on a large deck on the house and a lot of work on the family farm so it seems that it has been the writing and video editing that has suffered and I have done very little of either.  At any rate, I was still a bit surprised to see when I took time to review the blog, that I have not posted about whitetail deer since early June.

I saw a bachelor group of extremely nice whitetail bucks late one evening during the mid-August trip to elk country, but didn't have the still camera along so I extracted some stills from the video footage using Vegas Pro 13.

8 Point Pauses From Feeding

Back home in Fulton County, the beautiful six-point shown below was the biggest that I photographed with a DSLR although I filmed several much larger bucks on video.  Nonetheless he is a beautiful buck and I was able to document his development throughout the summer. 

As His Velvet Cracks In Preparation For Shedding,  A Fine 6 Point Buck Lip-curls
He was a small spike last year and the marked increase in size from last year to now proves that a spike can develop in to a fine buck and in fact  many, if not most, do so if they survive to their second year.

Same Buck-October 17, 2015
This year the velvet was cracked on August 28th. When he appeared shortly after dawn on the 30th, the velvet was mostly gone on the left antler and a long strand dangled alongside his head. This seemed to irritate him greatly and he spent a lot of time rubbing branches and also trying to grab the velvet in his teeth and dislodge it.

Buck Pauses From Horning Trees And Round Bale
Grooming And Attempting To Tear Velvet Strip Free
The velvet was completely gone by the following morning and the buck roamed about the meadows interacting with other deer and feeding.

Bucks Nuzzle When Pausing From Sparring

Buck Pauses From Feeding
What a thrill it was to be able to document the velvet shedding process once again.  Another buck that I see frequently has had bloody spots on his antlers, but has not shed yet.  In the photo below he is watching the larger buck from inside the tree line.  He tries to avoid close contact with him as it seems he does not want to spar until the velvet is gone.

Smaller Buck Looks On
I hope I have the opportunity to document at least a portion of  his velvet shedding process as well.  With the shedding of the velvet, the pre-rut gets underway and will continue until late October or early November when it will explode into the full-blown rut.

Originally published at Pennsylvania Wildlife Photographer by Willard Hill.