A young whitetail buck takes a rest

Sunday, August 7, 2011

I recently happened upon this young whitetail buck resting in the sun on a hot evening. Sometimes a wild animal will "hide" in an unlikely place.

This deer was in a shallow ditch out of sight until I peered in. It seemed strange to me that he would lie in the hot sun when trees and shade were nearby. But then I realized he might have left the woods for the same reason I had. Mosquitoes and gnats were thick in the shade but nonexistent out in the sun.

The short protrusions above the eyes and between the ears of this year-old buck are new antler growth. Close inspection reveals hair called "velvet" on the growing horns. Velvet will die and fall off or be rubbed off during autumn, leaving shiny bonelike antlers remaining on the buck's head.

Each year whitetail bucks will lose their antlers during winter. New antlers will grow back each summer.

Through the Woods is a weekly nature photo column by Aaron Horrell. Find this column at semissourian.com to order a reprint of the photo. Find more work by him at the Painted Wren Gallery.

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