Its not all fun and games for an Illinois buck

Keri ButtA mature buck during the rut appears to be living the good life. But the fact is that bucks have it anything but easy.

First, they have to endure summer’s heat and humidity. For bucks, this is the first of what can be several hardships. During the antler growth process, a buck’s antlers are surprisingly soft and vulnerable. The summer months also bring on an onslaught of biting flies. The constant movement it takes to ward them off, coupled with intense heat and in extreme conditions like the drought of 2012, lack of water is exceptionally taxing on a the overall health of any whitetail.

By the end of August, a buck’s antlers are completely hardened and ready to rumble, which will morph from figuratively to literally by Nov. 1. The entire process only takes about two hours, but those 120 minutes are filled with such an intense determination to rid himself of the velvet that by the time it’s all said and done, the buck’s energy is spent, leaving behind one bloody, sweaty, exhausted and miserably relieved deer. Sign posting will soon commence once again.

As daytime temps begin to descend, the nights turn even cooler, and food sources are typically abundant. The transition into fall is more or less “easy street” for a buck. All he has to worry about is resting up and gorging on food sources full of carbohydrates in order to bulk up on body mass, because all too soon, his world will turn six shades of sideways and eight hues of goofy, almost overnight.

By the end of October, a buck’s testosterone level has peaked, and it’s all a game at this point – a waiting game, that is – for the ever signaling scent of the first does coming into estrus, as it begins to waft through the deer woods.

Read more about a buck's fall challenges in the Sept. 20 issue of Illinois Outdoor News.

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