Walking in lock-step; two adult bucks size each other up.
In a previous post, I briefly discussed why the forthcoming fawning season makes adult female roe deer particularly elusive in the spring. So, following on from that, in this piece I shall quickly summarise the reason behind the behaviour of the adult bucks; specifically, why they tend to be conspicuous during the early to mid-spring.
Spring is a season of great unrest in the roe deer community: youngsters start to wander around the range as they disassociate themselves from their mother (who she, herself, seeks solitude) and the non-juvenile males become increasingly aggressive.
Why the Bucks Become More Aggressive in Spring
It’s all driven by the urge to mate.
The ultimate success for a roebuck is for him father as many fawns as possible. And to fertilise as many females as he can, it is essential that he ‘possesses’ a territory. Therefore, when rising levels of testosterone make a buck more aggressive late winter / early spring, he will challenge other like-minded males in their bid to establish a domain.
But Here’s the Crucial Point
The greater the quality of the territory, the higher the chances of a buck finding a mate during the rut. In fact, the probability of him becoming a father increases disproportionality with an increase in quality of the territory.
This explains why mature males engage in hostile behaviour in the spring, rather than the bucks non-confrontationally parcelling up the range into equally sized chunks of land for them all to reside in until the summer’s rut.
You see, they’re not just battling for a territory, they’re vying for the best territory.
So, whereas the mature females may be elusive during April and May, the adult males are normally easier to spot as they are particularly active as they chasing off and challenging rival bucks, in a bid to gain dominance.
For a lot more information, I recommend you read a much longer article I wrote on this subject Roe Deer Mating Part 1 - The Males' Territory
What Is Happening in The Photograph Above?
As you probably already know, roe deer are crepuscular, which essentially means that they are most active around the twilight hours. As a result, the bucks’ aggressive behaviour often peaks around dawn and dusk.
On this morning, I had been with the buck that is closest to the camera for about two hours, as he moved from field to field, picking off fresh shoots from the bordering bushes. Then, out of the blue, the other male materialised through the far bush-line and ran straight towards the other deer.
Initially, the first buck – the one I was with – started to flee and ran off. But after travelling no more than fifty metres, he stopped and looked back.
He then moved in a diagonal direction towards the other deer, using high, bounding leaps – typical of a roebuck displaying his vigour to a challenger.
Moving closer and closer and eventually coming to a halt about five to seven metres apart, both males performed a series of threatening postures, such as intense, sideways stares and scraping aggressively at the ground with their front hooves.
Then came the parallel walk display, which is what you see here.
During the parallel walk, both beasts were sizing each other up to assess the strength and stature of their rival.
The walk carried on for another five or six metres, before there was more pawing at the ground, followed by a charge and a short head-on-head tussle.
If you want to more about why deer fight, you may like to read
Technical Details of Image
Shutter time: 1/800 s Aperture: f/4 ISO: 1600 Focal length: 390 mm