As the sun begins to peek over distant mesquites, coyotes greet the dawn with their haunting chorus.
Wintry clouds are mirrored in the surface of a remote ranch country pond, as a young buck stares intently across placid water.
On the opposite side, a big eight point pursues his love interest as the annual dance of doe and buck hits full swing.
Not far away, another mature buck thrashes brush. Aggressively raking his antlers against mesquite limbs, he tears bark from branches. Fresh green mesquite shavings fall on his back and coat the base of his antlers as he leaves his mark and scent on this territorial signpost.
After several minutes of working brush, he stretches high into the mesquite to leave his scent in as lofty a branch as he can reach.
Ancient rituals are played out deep within cloaking brush as bucks mark their territory to warn rivals and attract does.
Whitetail deer aren't the only creatures driven by primordial urges this time of year as wild turkeys are beginning to battle for dominance. These two feisty young toms have attracted a group of gawkers as they grapple for several minutes before finally separating, and neither one seems willing to resume conflict anytime soon.
It is an exciting time of year in the South Texas outdoors as bucks are on the prowl, and Rio Grande gobblers brawl for pecking order.
And you never know just what you may run across in the ranch country, maybe even a buffalo or two roaming the wildlands, or perhaps a buck that takes your breath away.