Ask Dr. Dave About Whitetails: How Common Are Buck Fights?

Here’s a question from D. Snyder of Rivesville, W.Va. He sees smaller bucks pushing and shoving during bow season and wonders, “How common are buck fights?”

When you see small bucks pushing and shoving, this is simply the little guys getting ready for real fighting when they get older. This shoving around is commonly seen during the fall. However, during the rut, the big boys do get it on and you can tell when two bucks are going to fight by their behavior. They’ll lay their ears back, tuck in the tail, and erect the hair on their back.

They also will walk sideways to each other while they get closer. You may hear a buck-wheeze call right before they crash antlers. There is no shoving here. During a real fight the bucks make a huge racket and tear up the area around them. Small trees and brush may even get demolished. Such fights usually last only a few minutes, but on occasion they’ll lock antlers and this might lead to the death of both animals.

Fighting is common in bucks, and almost all bucks 2 years and older have puncture wounds into the body cavity from deer fights. Interestingly, they survive most of these puncture wounds, a testimony to the great evolution and stamina of these animals.

If you have a deer question for Dr. Dave, e-mail your question to Tom Kacheroski, senior editor of GuideOutdoors at [email protected].

Dr. Dave studied deer for 30 years as a wildlife management professor at West Virginia University. In addition he’s been a bowhunter for over 40 years, with deer being his main prey. He’s also an outdoor writer and has been with “Bowhunter” magazine for 30 years.

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