Two white-tailed bucks spar in the foreground while another deer looks on in this scene captured by a trail camera in Exeter. Credit: Courtesy of Karl Gurschick

There’s increased activity in the woods these days as Maine’s white-tailed deer gear up for the breeding season.

The time frame, known by hunters as the “rut,” is filled with bucks marking their territory, confronting other male deer in their general vicinity and pursuing females.

Those behaviors also can help level the playing field for hunters who are targeting bucks, which tend to get a little distracted once the rut kicks in.

Today’s trail camera photo, graciously provided by Karl Gurschick, seems to show that deer in his area are busy as the state’s firearms hunting season begins on Saturday.

The photo, taken just before midnight on Oct. 13 in Exeter, shows two bucks apparently engaged in a sparring session. Those encounters can be non-confrontational in nature, with the deer testing their respective antler-knocking skills, or two bucks have been known to have a good tussle while fighting over dominance for territory or a doe.

Karl, who said he hasn’t witnessed the behavior previously, wonders whether the two older deer might be giving the young buck a lesson in how sparring works.

Regardless, it’s clear Karl is likely to have some options should he head afield this fall in search of a deer.

Many thanks to Karl for his contribution, which undoubtedly will help get hunters excited about their prospects for 2021.

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Pete Warner

Pete graduated from Bangor High School in 1980 and earned a B.S. in Journalism (Advertising) from the University of Maine in 1986. He grew up fishing at his family's camp on Sebago Lake but didn't take...