First light in the brush country west of Rio Grande City reveals an impressive buck moving cautiously thru the chaparral.
He pauses at the edge of the woods before moving on.
Something, perhaps a slight movement, or a suspicious sound has captured his attention, and he peers alertly back into the brush.
He seems unwilling to leave the protective cover, and occasionally swivels his head and cocks his ears attempting to detect some hidden danger.
After several minutes, he ventures back into the cloaking woods and continues to watch and listen attentively.
He is a young buck, no more than three years old, but already possess superb antlers. A basic ten point with exceptional tine length and extra kickers on his brow tines, his burnished antlers gleam in the early morning light.
He is not the only deer on alert this morning, as nearby a family foursome appears ready to bolt. The yearling buck repeatedly stomps the ground as a warning, and the doe snorts a loud alarm, but they don't flee.
Throughout the morning other deer come and go thru the clearing. Sometimes, they linger briefly like this handsome eight point, and others like this wide racked buck never pause.
Later in the morning, a pair of imposing bucks moves off into the brush. The striking young buck that appeared at first light peels off to confront an interloper.
They lock antlers in a lighthearted manner, briefly testing each other's mettle before the coming winter rut when full pitched battles will ensue.