So much drama!!! Posturing, pushing, shoving, bullying, and pouting, along with outright battles have been the norm for the past couple of weeks. Much of the drama occurred out of the sight of most Dallas County residents. In a different column, this description could easily be describing our congress in Washington DC. However, I’m referring to the comings and goings of one of our favorite animals, the whitetail deer. October is a month of change for deer. The weather, daylight, temperature, and habitat are always changing in the outdoor world. Combinations of these factors trigger dramatic changes in the behavior of whitetail deer especially in October and November. Hunters and especially, deer hunters who pursue their quarry with bow and arrow or muzzleloader know this only too well. It would be a good thing for automobile drivers in our county to learn what most deer hunters understand about deer movements in the next 4 weeks. That is as food supply, colder weather, and the deer breeding season (rut) draw near, deer respond by becoming more active. Particularly during some of the peak travel times and slower speeds and diligent attention to the roadway are in order. Older bucks often enter the late summer (August & September) in loosely formed bachelor groups. Younger bucks may still be accompanying does or another young buck, or be more solitary. Their antlers have been growing in a nutrient rich coating of “velvet”. In September, the velvet surrounding a bucks antlers dries and is quickly shredded as the bucks rake their antlers on small trees. This rubbing of antlers often continues into the fall. In just a few days the bucks antlers are transformed into “hard antler”. Hunters have long noticed that once this change has occurred, bucks usually exhibit different behaviors, especially mature bucks. The bachelor groups will break down to smaller groups or completely. Mature bucks movements for feeding purposes will often be limited to crepuscular or entirely nighttime periods. Once the antlers have hardened, bucks spend time making and investigating scrapes. Scrapes are areas where the ground is pawed by a buck and scent in the form of urine is left on the ground, and overhanging branches are chewed, rubbed and salivated on. Both of these behaviors serve to leave scent marking the spot. It must be an amazing thing to have a nose so powerful that individual animal’s comings and goings can be processed by deer that visit these scrapes days later. Of course, hunting manufacturers have long noted this behavior and use it to develop ways to sell urine and other scent concoctions at amazing prices. Enough biology! The point of this column is sharing with you that for several weeks and the next several weeks the outdoor drama that unfolds each year is well underway. Last week I was able to capture 4 different buck battles on trail cameras. Each year I hope to witness at least one buck fight. This past week puts me ahead of my goal. Now to be sure, these buck fights of last week were not the grand scales of two mature (4+ year olds doing battle). These were pairs of 2 ½ year old bucks that were testing themselves and determining dominance. Biologists feel that these fights serve a dual purpose. One important purpose is to pass along their genetic matrix of the “fittest” animal. Another purpose served is to actually stabilize social status within the deer that live in the area. Once dominance has been established between two animals, it remains that way for years. After all, if you had to find food, avoid hunters, avoid predators, and stay warm, it would be counterproductive for you to have to repeat battles that have already been decided! Boy I think there is a lesson for Congress in my column. The drama that unfolds each day in the outdoor world is an amazing thing. Witnessing some of nature’s drama is perhaps the single biggest reason that deer hunters awake early and retire after dark spending hours in the woods. Every hunt is a moment in time that you never know what you will witness. It is an important opportunity to share quality time with family and friends. I hope you have time to enjoy some outdoor drama soon, it may help to put the drama in Washington in perspective.