11/17/2012 7:30:00 AM From the archives of
Ced Vig's wisconsin Woodsmoke A few words about the white-tail buck
by Ced Vig Wisconsin Woodsmoke
Editor's Note: Naturalist Ced Vig wrote a weekly outdoors column for this newspaper for many years before he passed away in the fall of 2010. With the blessing of his family, we are republishing excerpts from some of his much-loved columns. We hope our readers enjoy a taste of Ced's wit and wisdom.
It's November and the white-tail bucks are irritable, mean and willing to fight a rival buck at the mere sight of another buck. Sometimes they'll turn and challenge a man, possibly their "keeper." Yes, it's the rutting season - the time of the Crazy Moon.
When the bucks battle, they do not generally jab at each other with their sharp, polished antlers. Rather, they push and shove their racks together, attempting to wrestle and throw their opponents. Now and then their antlers become locked together. Then they're in trouble!
Deer antlers (not horns) are said to be the fastest-growing animal tissue known to man, starting in March or April and ready for battle during late October.
Like deer-camp whiskers, it's only the male members of the deer family that boasts a rack of antlers, except for the female caribou that do have them.
Since the antlers are dropped each winter, it takes much food to grow a new rack each summer. That's one reason the size of the antlers is dependent, in main, on the abundance and quality of food on which they live. Skimpy deer antlers generally indicate that the deer are short on rations and the deer herd is on the down-hill.
Usually, the bucks develop their "gollywhompers" when they are in their prime - about five years of age. It's quite possible that these "rocking chair racks" are advantageous in fighting, resulting in fewer numbers of mating by yearlings or smaller bucks.
Although the bucks are on the prowl, deer do not move around too much. It has been estimated that 90 percent of the white-tails live and die in less than two sections of countryside (1,280 acres).
When a farmer looks out on his fields and sees a group of deer eating, he can figure that six of them are eating about as much as one of his cows.
Weasels Change Color
It's early winter! The weasels are molting their brown summer coats - getting pure white ones. The three species of Wisconsin weasels are named after their tail - long-tailed, short-tailed and least. The long-tailed reaches 17 inches, the least, eight inches. Except for the least, weasels have black-tipped tails - winter and summer. Weasels are frequently called ermines.
Wanted to Rent for the Winter
- A Den!
The days are getting shorter and cooler and snow covers the ground. The amount of food available for the bears is so little that the bears begin to lose more calories than if they were hibernating. So, they're out searching for a den in which to hibernate. While sleeping, their energy needs are supplied by the "fat" blanket that they built up in late summer and fall.
There is no mammal that needs less in winter than does the black bear. "For more than a third of the year." says Andrew Revin, writing in Discover magazine, "the black bear becomes self-sufficient and recycles everything and wastes nothing. During hibernation, it neither drinks, urinates or defecates. Waste products that would quickly build to deadly levels in the blood of other animals are broken down into basic chemicals, then used to build new protein. All the water a bear needs is produced internally as the animal burns the copious stores of fat laid down in a later summer feast."
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