When Fights Get Big (and Serious)

Every year we read stories and see photos of bucks that have locked antlers. The end is not usually happy for these deer, unless some benevolent, creative and daring soul finds them before exhaustion takes its toll. The bucks in the photo, a trio of locked-up monsters from Ohio, constitute the second time I've run across a report of three deer that fought to a lethal draw.

Interestingly, most of the cases of locked-up bucks seem to occur in the latter stages of the rut…Exactly where we are now. My theory is this; bucks have been running and breeding does--and fending off rivals--for several weeks now.

The majority of the bucks are dog-tired, but the strong, mature animals still have the endurance and drive to keep searching. And when they meet up with another buck with similar strength and attitude, things can turn serious in a hurry.

The message? If you've stashed your rattling antlers and grunt calls because the rut is winding down, you're making a big mistake. Don't expect the level or frequency of response you might have enjoyed a week or two ago. But if you do get a buck to come in, chances are he'll be a good one. Just don't expect him to drag two of his buddies with him…