Uncle Stumpy here. Glad to see you made it. Sit on that stump over there and let's talk a spell. Last time we talked about antler odds and ends. Now it's time to see what the antlers have to do with the sex life of the deer. This might perk you up. It sure does the deer!As I related before, when the buck starts losin' his velvet and the antlers harden, he starts producin' spern. This is due to the testosterone that is produced in his testes. Shortly after Labor Day, if you're awalkin' through the woods, you start seen' those buck rubs we talked about last time.
Now, there's been a lot of thought given as to why buck do this rubbin'. Certain people thought by this rubbin', the velvet is cleaned off and antlers polished. Some woodsmen thought for sure the velvet made the antlers itch, so it was like a buck usin' a scratchin' board. Well, since antlers at this time are bone dead, this sure doesn't seem likely.
One thing I noticed is that buck seem to have a likin' for certain trees to rub, even to the point they seem to get hooked on them and will seek out one type. In some cases, Cedar is a favorite rubbin' tree. They must like the smell of Cedar ' I know I do. Some times different types of Christmas trees are destroyed by this rubbin'. In some regions, Sassafras is a favorite rubbin' tree. It also has a good odor. If the urge to rub hits them, they'll most likely rub any tree that's handy.
So, I've noticed the trees that are rubbed vary in trunk size. In talkin' with a lot of deer observers, it seems big antlered buck make rubs on the largest trees, but will also beat up on the small trees. In certain places, the same big Cedar trees are rubbed every year and close to the same date. Small antlered buck usually take the rubbin's out on small diameter trees. Like Christmas trees, orchard type trees can be damaged, even destroyed.
Certain buck are more sloppy than others, lettin' the velvet hang down from their antlers into their eyes. Buck are known to eat the velvet that contains the skin and blood vessels. That's one way of gettin' back some energy it took to grow them.
In my researchin', it seems this rubbin' is a way of communication' with other deer, especially other buck, but I think the doe also take a peak. The experts (those people from out of town you call in to tell what's agoin' on), tell us a lot of things about buck rubs. I'll relate some of these:
Seems the older buck lose their velvet first and start rubbin' first. Around here, any buck that's 2-1/2 years of age is old ' a 3-1/2 year old buck is close to bein' ancient. What with the hunter, the highway, and the 'Red Taggers' it's amazin' there are any big antlers at all! Where the youngsters find these new buck rubs, they'll have a fare idea of just what the older buck might take up their courtin' grounds.
When a buck rubs its antlers, if you watch closely, he is rubbin' the forehead more than anything else. It has been found out that there are some cells in the skin that give off a scent. The strength of the scent gets greater as the buck gets older. so, if the older buck showed the young buck he was boss durin' the summer, this rubbin' and smellin' tell the young buck who's who and what's what!
Of course, the young buck rub, too, but not right away. They don't usually lose their velvet as soon as the older buck do, so this delays their rubbin.' By the time October comes around, big buck, little buck, dominant buck, submissive buck, even button buck, are all rubbin' and tearin' up the woods. All of them leave some sort of a scent that tells the other buck and the doe who has been by. People who study deer in great detail, seem to think the little buck do much more smellin' of rubs that big buck. Seems the little buck (and there sure a lot of them this year), are a bit scared and anxious to see what other buck are around. The old, dominant buck does his smellin' to see if some other buck wants to take over his doe.
Sometimes folks will see two buck with their heads together, apushin' and clangin' their antlers. Well, it figures this is just a pushin' match to show who is the strongest. These sparrin' matches in the early fall might just eliminate a knock down, drag out antlers fight that could cause a bad injury, or even death, to one or both of the gladiators. Buck will sometimes stand on their hind legs and strike each other with their front legs. This usually is in the summer when their tender antlers are agrowin', or in the winter, after they have lost their old antlers. All this antler rubbin' and antler clangin' builds up the muscles in the neck to the point th neck looks swollin'.
So what all this rubbin', scent-layin', smellin', pushin', and changin' of antlers means is to build some sort of what is called a "peck order," or a fancy word called "hierarchy." All these not too strenuous activities puts each buck in his place, so at the time, when they get all riled up, it's the breedin' that gets done, with very little fightin'.
Around here, it usually means the older buck, if there are any, do most of the matin' while the young buck do most of the watchin' and learnin', just in case they make it to the next year. If, by chance all the dominant buck get killed, by huntin', or accidents, the young, antlered buck can do the task at hand ' even the button buck.
By this time, you might think the deer society is sort of complicated. Well, we still have a ways to go about the buck and his breedin' habits, and, of course, what does the doe do when the crazy buck start rippin' and leanin' up in the woods, and starts givin' her the evil eye!
Well, Uncle Stumpy has run down hill again. Next time, we're gonna talk about when deer get in a rut.