Daytime Deer Activity
Although many people justifiably believe that deer are only active at night and at either end of the day, they can, however, be regularly seen at any time in the twenty-four-hour period. The probability of daytime deer activity does vary throughout the year though, primarily as a result of the roe deer’s annual cycle.
Spring and summer are the seasons when a significant amount of daytime activity can be expected.
So, let’s deal with each one in turn.
At this time of year, the males are moving around a lot more than they do in winter, because the yearling bucks are splitting up from their mother, as they search for pastures new. This is called dispersal.
At the same time, the adult bucks - those aged three and older – are establishing their territories (which they will hold until the latter part of summer), and therefore can often been patrolling their domain and chasing other antlered beasts away from their patch.
The sub-adult males – two-year-old bucks – are harried by the territorial bucks, and can find themselves being pushed from pillar to post, until things temporarily settle down a little in June. These males then become satellite bucks – where they live within the domain of an established buck's territory - or a live between males' territories - these are called peripheral bucks.
The pregnant does are less active than normal in the spring, though – see Why Are Female Roe Deer So Reclusive In Spring?
Late July through to mid-August is the time when daytime activity is most commonly seen; this is the peak in the roe deer’s mating season, otherwise known as the rut.
Interestingly though, daytime hostilities between the adult bucks just peaks before the rut, as a result of their blood testosterone levels reaching their highest levels of around 4 ng per ml during the period early to mid-July – as first reported in 1992 by Sempere. Mauget and Bubenik the Journal of Reproduction and Fertility.
During the rut itself, the does leave their fawns unattended for extended periods of time as they wander around the range, seeking the company of a virile buck. So, the adult males are commonly seen chasing the amorous does during their prolonged annual courtship.
Even although roe deer are especially active during the main part of the day during the spring and summer (especially from late July to mid-August), dawn and dusk are still the best times to see them; they are, by nature, animals most comfortable during the twilight hours.
Territorial Buck in Full Flight
It was a particularly hot spring day and I could see this adult buck resting in the long grass near the middle of the field. So, I thought I’d watch him for a while; I knew he was feeling particularly feisty that day, having watching him have an aggressive encounter with another adult buck earlier that morning. You can see a photo from this other incident in the parallel walking image - he is the most distant deer in the image.
After spending about thirty minutes just watching him, another buck, a yearling, ambled through the bushes just to the right of where I was positioned. The youngster moved along the bush-line and into the field, but inevitably the adult’s radar-like ears and super sensitive nose detected the young one’s approach. In no time at all, he was on his feet and had eyeballed the intruder.
As the young male momentarily stared back, the larger buck's territorial behaviour was triggered. Within a second, the elder was in full flight; bounding over the dry stems, launching himself in the direction of the yearling. Wisely taking heed, youngster skedaddled and vanished into the long grass of the neighbouring the field; his meagre pair of spikes and diminutive frame was in no position to mount a challenge to the larger beast.
After a brief excursion into the neighbouring field - maybe to just check the juvenile had indeed gone - the adult was soon back in ‘his’ field, settling down again for another rest, after which I left him to his solitude.
Technical Details of Image
Shutter time: 1/800 s Aperture: f/5.6 ISO: 720 Focal length: 550 mm