Black-tailed Deer
Buck Photos


During the rutting season, bucks rub their antlers on trees and plants. They also attack, or thrash, plants with their antlers. Notice the debris clinging to the antlers of the buck above? That is plant parts, remaining on the antlers due to the action of rubbing those antlers on many plants during the season. Sometimes, you will see grasses or twigs dangling from a buck's antlers.

Same buck as above. Look closely to see the plant material on the lower parts of his antlers.

This buck had been eating some of the leaves of the willow tree above him. I caught him with his tongue sticking out.
This buck was chasing a doe on an open field.
A buck walking past my trail camera at night. They can be active during any time of day or night.

A younger buck caught on the trail camera. This is one of last year's yearlings.


My trail camera caught this buck following a doe through the brush in the fall.


This buck was resting on an open field. Look at his right antler to see a piece of a plant dangling from it.

This buck walked over to the trail camera I had mounted low on a tree. He raised his head to sniff the branches hanging above it. Shown in the photo above. Then...
.... Then, he stood on his hind legs to do something with the branches. I am not sure what he did except perhaps hit them with his antlers. These were redwood branches, not a food that deer prefer.
Then, the buck went back down on all four feet and appeared to look directly into the camera.
These two bucks tore up about 100 feet of dirt road in each direction during this big fight. Notice how the right hind foot of the buck on the right is showing a dewclaw in contact with the ground.
The same two bucks in their big fight. I found no blood at the scene, and I was there less than two hours after it happened. So, though it was a big fight, it appeared as if neither was injured.
Taking a break!
Signs That Bucks Leave on the Landscape

The scrapes that bucks make on trees and saplings are easy to find in the field, especially during the fall when the colors are bright from the fresh damage.


There are various theories why bucks scrape trees like this. One is that they are rubbing the velvet off their antlers. Another is that they are making marks to show their readiness to mate. Or that they are rubbing scent on the trees. All are good theories and probably all are true. The only ones who know for sure are the bucks!


You can usually find the gouge marks from the antler tips in the bark. This helps differentiate this sign from that made by other animals.


This sign does not age off the tree, so it will be there for years after the mark was made. These marks are more obvious when they are fresh, but many trees bear scars of past rubbing by bucks.


For more deer signs, see the:

Main Deer Tracks and Signs page

Deer Feeding Signs page

Deer Scats page 1

Deer Scats Page 2


Blacktailed Deer Tracks and Signs Main Page

Deer Tracks and Feet



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Get Every Child Outdoors (Get E.C.O.) - My shop dedicated to nature and getting kids interested in nature and the outdoors.

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Copyright 2010, 2012.
Text, photos, and drawings by Kim A. Cabrera

Updated: July 7, 2012.