The deer walk their own individual paths now. Most of them have changed the grey winter fur against the reddish summer coat.
Photo: Tarmo Mikussaar
Posted by the Animal of the Year Team 07.06.2017
The companionable winter life of roe deer is at an end for this time. They become individualists and try to get the best possible territories; these are then energetically protected against co-specifics. Already in early May roe bucks chasing each other can be seen. Occasions when a roe deer pursues male co-specifics are not rare. Evidently the doe tries to chase away her kids from last spring. The poor things cannot understand what has happened to their earlier so caring parent. This means that the time of giving birth is approaching.
In early June most roe deer have their summer coats on. Head and neck become red-coloured first. The winter grey can last be seen on the back and haunches. Frequent rain showers and a wet forest help in the moulting.
The bucks continue to rub their antlers against young trees; this started already in April. In this way the skin that has covered the antlers is removed and a brownish colour is obtained. Simultaneously the territory gets marked. The colour of the antlers depends on which kind of tree that has been used. Oak for instance gives a black colour. The species that occur less frequently in the area are usually most damaged.
In June buck hunting starts. In the first place those individuals are hunted who have not rubbed their antlers bare by that time, or have not got the summer fur on. Being late with these doings shows that it is an individual in poor health who has many endoparasites. It is better that such individuals will not take part in the mating ritual. No self-respecting hunter however hunts a buck with powerful antlers before the mating period.
The year-old roe deer who have started an independent life and have little experience may stray on to motorways in the most unexpected places. The same goes for elk calves. When fleeing in fright or angrily pursuing co-specifics they have no time to observe the traffic at the same time. It is worth-while for car drivers to be particularly careful.