The Button Bucks

She is so thin you can see her rib cage, but she stands with her head more noble and tall, more than any other doe I’ve ever watched, as she scans the forest in front of her. She leads them through the woods cautiously and quietly. Their spots are gone now, and only now, it is revealed that they are twin button bucks.

I have a feeling she is a brilliant mother, the way she moves through her world and the way she protectively leads. The twins settled down into the grasses for a nap while she meandered closely and selectively grazed, while periodically scanning for movement.

Then I wondered about the twins.

A year from now these little button bucks won’t be able to lay side by side in the grasses together, will they? By this time next year they will spend the rest of their life in competition of one another.

Or will they? I watched them for maybe an hour the day I took these photos, in addition to the several occasions that I spotted them sneaking through the edge of the thick, summer woods. But it already seems, to me anyway, that one twin is much more keen to his environment, has learned to move and watch the forest like his mother, is suspicious of the smells and sounds he encounters. The other twin doesn’t seem to have much care in the world, always occupied with finding something to eat and where they are headed to next.

The birth of twins in the deer world is more common than you might expect. And biologically whitetails are set up for carrying multiples because of a two-horned uterus. Whitetails bare fraternal twins, and even so, they might not actually be genetic twins but rather half-siblings. Because a doe has a two horned uterus and can ovulate multiple eggs, she can mate with different bucks and end up with “twins” that are from different paternity.

So in the case of my button buck twins, maybe one isn’t just innately learning from his mother more than the other. Perhaps he has a stronger genetic line from a different father? I wonder if I will be able to keep track of them, or if they will disappear after this winter as they go into their own reaches of the woods.

One thing is for sure though, I still think she is a brilliant mother.


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