The National Key Deer Refuge, Big Pine Key

IMG_7524AntlerLock

This time of the year the island looks like a battlefield, with males limping, eyes damaged from the tips of antlers, cuts covering their bodies, abrasions, and even the bodies of the defeated hidden in the tall grasses where they laid down to die.

IMG_7518TheChallenge

The younger buck on the left does not have a chance with the seasoned, larger male. There were three does nearby.

IMG_7519TheCharge

Make no mistake, these Key deer were NOT practising sparring and meant business.

IMG_7520BucksSparring

This image was captured at sunset tonight. The deer are always more active once the sun goes down.

IMG_7522EarsBack

Ears back does not mean a friendly sniff but a prelude to a charge.

IMG_7523TheRut

 

IMG_7528BrokenAntler

The larger deer has a deformed antler probably from another battle. He needs to fight many bucks to defend his does. Eventually, if a car does not get to him first, a younger, stronger deer will.

 

IMG_7532DoeandFawn

The fawn, with her mother, is about five-six months old.

IMG_7500Butterfly

Gulf Fritillary or Passion Butterfly. It migrates over the Gulf of Mexico.

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