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      The Nature Report: Ranch Country Day

      Just before dawn, the full moon silhouettes a ranch country windmill, and then at first light slips beyond distant mesquites. A buck prowls the damp grasslands, antlers glistening in the golden light of daybreak. Nearby, a tranquil pond reflects the morning clouds in its placid surface. Soon a nubbin buck arrives and strolls the bank, casting a perfect reflection. The deer are on the move, and it promises to be an exciting day in the South Texas wildlands. Not far away, another mature buck stalks the coastal prairie, threatening any would be rival.

      As he pauses to scan the horizon for an available doe or any sign of competition, it is apparent he has snapped off one of his brow tines |no doubt while fighting.

      Later in the morning, not far from the placid pond, the deer are becoming increasingly active, and soon a young buck begins chasing a doe.

      Suddenly, a fight erupts, and for the next several minutes two bucks lock antlers in the tall grass, pushing and shoving one another violently, until finally one prevails, chasing the other away.

      However, neither is willing to give up their search for the doe, as both frantically scour the area.

      One appears momentarily and trots by with a branch stuck to his antlers, seemingly oblivious to the entanglement, and soon disappears into the brush.

      Throughout the afternoon, the bucks tirelessly seek the trail of a willing doe as nature TMs urge to procreate spurs them on.

      At dusk, the plump orb rises and with it the annual dance of doe and buck will continue unabated in the ample moonlight.