Whitetail bucks rarely make an appearance around here in the daytime except during the rut, when they throw caution to the wind and chase the does, or when something is wrong, as seemed to be the case this past week. Early in the morning, as sunlight crept over the ground, a four point buck lingered near the tall grass below the house, holding his head high. He didn't seem at all embarrassed that his four antler points were all on one side of his head. Since bucks don't normally shed their antlers until at least January, we envisioned a fierce battle with Four-point on the loosing side, but his carriage seemed to say "you should have seen the other guy".
We just may have seen the other guy a few days later. It was one of those mornings that pose a dilemma for photographers. Fog hung in the valleys and the sunrise could be promising either from a nearby hilltop or down at the lake.
I opted for the hilltop, driving through thick fog in the valley and emerging only at the last rise in the road.
A misty white blanket lay below. I shot a few pictures, then headed back by the lake, where the fog was too thick to see much of anything.
Returning home without the photo I had hoped for, I found the photo op of the day munching leaves in our yard. A trophy ten point buck was systematically defoliating the tall phlox a few feet from our bedroom window. He lifted his head and looked at me as I drove into the garage, closing the door behind me so as to disturb him as little as possible.
Once inside, I saw that Don had already been clicking away with his camera, and, amazingly, the deer was still enjoying his phlox breakfast. The animal's reactions seemed slow; he didn't have the wary attentiveness that usually characterizes deer. He turned his head briefly, and deep wounds on the other side of his face seemed to indicate a fight. From the looks of him, he must have taken second. That would certainly explain his malaise.
The deer moved down the smorgasbord line to the Sweet William, a few yards away, and took his time browsing.
Then he walked, a little unsteadily, past the dog kennel, down the hill and into the woods.
We probably won't see this trophy buck again, but we hope the hearty breakfast gave him a start toward healing, and that he can return to full strength.