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WILDLIFE WATCHING — The whitetail deer antler shed season has begun, according to Montana outdoor photographer Jaime Johnson.
Deer, moose and elk will be dropping their antlers one at a time through February to make room on their heads for next season's crop of what I understand is the fastest-growing tissue among mammals.
Velvet sprouts will be evident in May and the new antlers will be in full velvet bloom in August before the blood flow dries up and they start hardening.
The big bulls and bucks then will rub off the velvet and polish the antlers as they rake brush and saplings in preparation for the rut.
WILDLIFE WATCHING — Two whitetail bucks that locked their antlers in battle near Liberty Lake during the rutting season set the stage for a ghoulish drama video that's gone viral on YouTube.
Pete Caruso of Spokane and Eric Martin of Colbert were heading out toward Mica to hunt predators on Nov. 15 when they spotted three coyotes feeding on what they initially thought was a gut pile — until a buck rose up from the bloody melee.
The coyotes were chewing on the haunches of a dead buck whose antlers were locked with a buck that was still very much alive and struggling futilely to break away. The dead buck had died, possibly of a broken neck, in what must have been one heck of a battle for mating dominance that night.
After spooking away the coyotes and sizing up the situation, the two hunters and two other men moved in to help. They risked harm from the still-alive buck's flying hooves and sharp antler points as they struggled to unlock the entangled antlers.
Caruso captured the ordeal on video as one unidentified man sat on the bloody, mangled carcass of the dead buck to give Martin and the other man more leverage for twisting the antlers apart.
The best part of the video comes at the end, when the freed buck sprints away, offering a classic whitetail leap as if to say “Yahoo!” as it disappears over the horizon.
“Eric and I are starting working to start an outdoorsman video club for hunting and wildlife action clips,” Caruso said.
This video clip of Martin using a decoy and predator call to lure a cougar into close range is an example. Check out the look on the cougar's face when it senses it's been had.
WILDLIFE WATCHING — It's time for this whitetail buck to peel off the velvet and get ready for action.
Montana outdoor photographer Jaime Johnson documented this late-summer stage of antler development last weekend with this photo.
WILDLIFE WATCHING — Whitetail bucks are making that transition from growing velevet-covered antlers to hardened racks that will play into their stature for breeding.
Outdoor photographers Jaime and Lisa Johnson of Lincoln, Mont., keep track of such things.
Check out their gallery.
WILDLIFE PHOTOGRAPHY — This whitetail buck should inspire some anticipation for September.
The photo was made last week by Lincoln, Mont., photographer Jaime Johnson, who makes more great outdoor photos in a week than most wannabe outdoor photogs make in a year.
“This is one of the highest whitetails I have even seen around this area – very nice,” he said.
Check out his website.
WILDLIFE WATCHING — While nature seems to be wrapped up with producing this year's new crop of fawns, bucks are in the background quietly getting ready for the next mating season.
Daniel Haththorne's trail cam recorded this nice whitetail buck and its blooming rack of antlers. Hawhthorne has been watching the buck for two years and has photos of the buck with his mature rack from last fall.
In comparing notes with other hunters with trail cams, he notes that whitetail bucks in the low Spokane Valley seem to be a little more advanced in their anter growth than the bucks in velvet at higher elevations.