The winter rut is winding down, and the bucks have taken a beating battling for does and dominance.
This buck has a missing left brow tine.
Bucks normally have two matching protrusions of antlers that rise several inches in the middle of their racks almost over their eye brows, hence the term brow tines. In addition to the missing portion of antler, this buck also has a noticeable limp as he pursue a doe.
She disappears into the thick brush, but he is a determined suitor and flushes her out as the annual dance of doe and buck plays out. Suddenly, a rival appears, and he too has the distinction of a missing left brow tine. Soon all three disappear into the woods. Moments later a third buck emerges, and you guessed it, he too has lost his left brow tine.
Brow tines are often the first part of the antlers to break off when bucks fight, but I TMm not sure why it TMs always the left one in these parts.
He soon picks up the trail and vanishes. Later in the afternoon, a big ten point arrives and begins aggressively rubbing his antlers on a mesquite sapling, but wait a second; he too has a missing left brow tine, so I guess that technically makes him a nine point. This is his territory, and he is marking it well, and judging from all the broken brow tines he is quite willing to defend it.