Here’s something you’re unlikely to see in Pennsylvania’s “Big Woods” north of Interstate 80 — a close-up view of a young 8-point buck taunting and sparring with an older one.
You’re unlikely to see this because Pennsylvania’s huge deer herd is quite out of balance up north. Since doe hunting was suppressed more than 100 years ago the ratio of bucks to does has fallen steadily. For example, on the first day of hunting season last month a friend saw a herd of 88 deer in Clarion County. 85 were does and the 3 bucks had only spikes for antlers. To find out how this happened, read Bob Frye’s 2006 book Deer Wars: Science, Tradition, and the Battle over Managing Whitetails in Pennsylvania.
In no-hunt suburban areas, Pennsylvania’s deer proliferate with a good balance of males and females. They’re used to seeing harmless humans, some of whom offer food, so they don’t mind coming close.
Sharon Leadbitter visits Allegheny Cemetery in the City of Pittsburgh to photograph the large herd. Last summer she posted a video of a cute fawn frisking among the headstones. This month she filmed these two antlered bucks.
You can tell the young buck wants to spar as he jumps and dances. The older one persistently pushes him away and ultimately wins.
The winner will claim his favorite doe(s) and make more babies.
Their sparring is the prelude to a fawn.
(video by Sharon Leadbitter)