White-tailed bucks are an interesting lot. Individual bucks run together in bachelor herds during the summer, but become mortal enemies during the fall and winter. Most hunters realize the proper harvest of animals is essential for white-tailed deer population management, but we also hate to see deer die of natural causes, especially when self-inflicted. However, the life of a white-tailed buck can be tough.
In addition to surviving the seasonal stress periods of summer and winter, and sneaking by hunting season after hunting season, bucks also fight for dominance among themselves for the right to breed receptive does in the area. When big white-tailed bucks fight it is a sight to see. I have seen bucks spar for several minutes, although battles of several hours are well documented. I suspect that most encounters are intense, but short in duration (just seconds) with the stronger buck making his point rather quickly.
However, sometimes bucks will fight to the death. This happens when animals become gored by powerfully swinging points, when animals are pushed or knocked into natural obstructions, or when antlers lock and one or more bucks die from exhaustion and/or starvation. Such was the case last week when Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD) responded to a landowner’s call about two bucks locked together in Franklin County, Texas. TPWD does it’s best to manage the Lone Star State’s white-tailed deer population through surveys, hunting regulations, and law enforcement, but they also get hands-on with wildlife when the situation calls.
TPWD: “On October 20 Camp County Game Warden Heath Taylor received a call from a landowner in Franklin County about two bucks that he found on his property that had gotten their antlers locked together and were under a fence on opposite sides from each other. One buck was a 9-point that had already died but the other was a huge 14-point that was still alive but to the point of exhaustion. Warden Taylor notified Franklin County Game Warden Doyle Brown and both wardens met the landowner.
When they arrived, Warden Taylor and the landowner were able to pry the bucks apart and untangle the huge buck from the fence. After laying there for a couple of minutes, the big buck stood up and walked into the brush escaping what would have been certain death. Both the wardens and the landowner stated that it was one of the biggest bucks they had seen in this area.”