Sunday, November 13, 2011

Deer Country: Big Buck 2011

Big Buck 2011

Big Buck 2011 must be getting used to me, because late this afternoon he came out of hiding an hour or so earlier than usual, relaxed a bit while he was grazing near a group of eight does and half-grown fawns, and let me take some photographs while we were just about 150 feet apart at times.

Most of the photographs I take of deer are of does and fawns, which seem to tolerate my presence as long as I don’t make abrupt moves or walk directly toward them.  Young, antlered bucks seem to become more leery by the month and soon move on when I begin picture taking.

Big Buck 2011
Big Bucks, however, seem to know how to make it difficult for me to take their photos.  They seldom appear in “good light,” appearing usually in the evening twilight.  They usually keep a greater distance between them and the guy with the little black box on his face.  And some years they just don’t appear.

I’ve seen Big Buck 2011 several times during the last several weeks.  I’ve seen him in the evening at twilight on the crest of the hill to our north and on the lower level at the bottom of our hill to the west.  The first time it was too dark to photograph, and the second time he disappeared in the second or two it took me to look at my camera and turn it on.

Big Buck 2011
But Big Buck 2011 came out this afternoon about 4:00 and browsed in our neighbor’s field in the distant company of eight does and fawns.  I say “distant” because when he eats, he permits no other deer to graze within 25 feet.  If another deer doesn’t respect Big Buck’s grazing territory, he lowers his head and charges, and the offending deer flees to a safe distance and resumes grazing there.

I watched Big Buck 2011 for about a half hour, and as he grazed he gradually worked his way onto our property and among some of the native trees I had planted as part of the Howard County Stream ReLeaf Program at the bottom of our hill and along the stream.

Oh, no!  He's rubbing a dogwood tree!
Then Big Buck 2011 did something I thought I’d never witness—let along get a picture of.  He looked over several of our young trees and headed for a leafless flowering dogwood (Cornus florida) that I had just uncaged last week.  Even though the dogwood’s inch-and-a-half trunk still was surrounded with a two-foot tall protective collar of hardware cloth, Big Buck lowered his head and ….

“No!  No!” I wanted to shout.  “Don’t rub your antlers on my dogwood!  You’ll kill it!”

But I didn’t shout.  I was too busy taking the picture.  I’m hoping the hardware cloth gave the young tree some protection.  I think it did because Big Buck rubbed his right antler once or twice and began grazing again.

Big Buck 2008
Not every year do I declare I’ve seen Big Buck.  The last photo with this posting is of Big Buck 2008—the most magnificent Big Buck I’ve seen here at Meadow Glenn, Clarksville, Howard County, Maryland.  He visited for a few minutes one evening when it was so dark I had to prop my digital camera on our gate post to be able to get a photo.

I think Big Buck 2011 is a prime specimen, but I don’t think he quite measures up to Big Buck 2008.  What do you think?

P.S.  When I mentioned I had recently “uncaged” the young dogwood tree, I meant that I had removed the iron stakes and welded-wire fencing that for two years had protected the young tree from deer browsing and rubbing.  The tree—a younger dogwood—in front of Big Buck in the photo still is “caged.”  To read my earlier posting (January 23, 2011) on “caging,” CLICK HERE.


  1. I agree, 2008 buck is beautiful, more mature and in better physical shape than Big Buck 2011.

  2. Nice pictures Bob. The 2011 Buck is probably a 3 or 4 year old deer. The 2008 variety is probably a 5 or 6 year old. Just a bigger,older deer. If you 2011 buck makes it for a couple of more years, he will get a big as your 2008 buck.