Friends of Kootenay Blog

Access stories and photos about the natural and human history of Kootenay National Park and Columbia Valley Includes highlights about the Friends of Kootenay National Park activities and programs.

 

Mule Deer Rut

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Mule Deer Sparring Oct. 22, 2012 - Photo by Larry Halverson
 

The aspen leaves have fallen and it is now time for the Mule Deer rut.

Sparring is a ritualized contest in which two bucks approach each other, lower heads and carefully join antlers. Each pushing and twisting their heads trying to drive his opponent back or push him off balance. Sparring bucks will often disengage their antlers, lift and turn their heads laterally, as if giving their opponent a profile view of the head and antlers. It is thought this "profiling" may allow a buck to assess his opponent’s weaponry and to learn his own relative size, strength, and status and allowing future dominance interactions to be resolved visually, without resorting to potentially more damaging forms of aggression.

These two young bucks seemed evenly matched and after a number sparring bouts there appeared to be no clear winner.
 

 

A third buck on the sidelines waiting as if to take on the winner.- photo by Larry Halverson