The cool front that rolled in recently has the bucks on the prowl.
Their necks are beginning to swell, and they are ready to rumble.
A mature bruiser is aggressively hooking the brush and thrashing a mesquite limb.
He is marking his territory, letting the other bucks know that he TMs a formidable opponent ready to take on any rival.
The thorough beating he TMs administering the mesquite seems to indicate he really means business. Throughout the ranch country, brush is being torn up by testosterone driven bucks.
Soon the winter rut will begin, and instead of fighting mesquite branches South Texas bucks will be battling one another for does and dominance.
But for now, it is still a little early for serious conflict, and for the most part aggression is limited to thrashing branches as they reach high into mesquite trees to create signposts by scarring limbs and leaving scent. A handsome sixteen-point buck stretches high into a mesquite, content for now to work the limbs and let other bucks know that this is his territory.
Nearby, a young buck watches the action.
He has apparently gotten a little too frisky sparring with the brush or his peers and damaged his antlers.
One side has been broken at the base and dangles irritatingly causing the youngster to shake his head repeatedly.'
When the sun breaks out for a moment, the sixteen point pauses in the warmth, his antlers gleaming.
And then, he slowly ambles off into the cloaking brush.