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      Nature Report: Battling Bucks

      It starts with a little playful sparring between young bucks. They touch antlers, gently pushing each other around, and since neither is overly aggressive no one is injured. However, this harmless head butting is a precursor to what may become serious clashes as they mature.

      During the whitetail deer-breeding season or rut in South Texas in late December and early January, bucks will sometimes fight to the death for does and dominance.

      These two older deer are also testing out their antlers in a similar fashion, but nothing serious appears likely to transpire for the moment.

      Bucks will fight the brush aggressively displaying their willingness to do battle with a rival. This behavior also marks their territory by leaving scent and visibly broken branches.

      Sometimes they get so carried away they end up with mesquite branches attached to their antlers, and this old buck seems quite content to stride off with a little extra something stuck in his rack.

      When mature bucks do confront one another, usually a display of dominance will back down a rival. Often a bristled up buck will approach with his ears laid back and a challenging gleam in his eye, and that will be enough to send a rival trotting off.

      But when this dominant posturing doesn't work and neither buck backs down, violent battles will ensue. No one seems to be too badly hurt in this fight, but it is easy to see how serious injuries can be suffered.