November 10, 2000
It's time for bucks to battle for does
As the rutting season for white-tailed deer reaches its peak during the last two weeks of November and continues into December, bucks often engage in severe fights, using their antlers and hooves, for possession of a doe. The bucks in the finest condition and having the largest racks become the fathers of next year's fawns. They are usually the first to drop their antlers after the rut.
On rare occasions, a doe with an excess amount of male hormones grows antlers, but hers are usually small and greatly modified. Many people try to tell the age of a buck by his antlers, but this cannot be done because antler development is not an indication of age but the nutrition and amount of food consumed. Deer age usually is determined by studies of their teeth.
Under ideal conditions, the lifespan of a deer is about 15 years, although there are records of deer that lived to nearly 20 years of age. In a wild herd that is subjected to hunting, or has food or cover stress, few deer live more than six years. It is believed the lifespan is the same for males and females.