16th Annual Smithsonian Magazine Photo Contest Natural World
Crown of Velvet Antlers on a White-tailed Deer Buck

This White-tailed Deer buck is sporting his midsummer antlers and was munching on the greens in a neighbor's suburban residential side yard. At first, I thought he was a large lawn ornament! He looked over his shoulder at me and my dog on our morning walk. His antlers were covered in velvet, a crown so large that it looked impossible that this prince could hold his head up. We gazed at each for a good long while - we were both intrigued. There was about 40' between us. It was a shared and trusting moment. I was not going to hurt him, and he was not going to hurt me. In all my years of seeing deer that live in the shadows of the suburban environment, I have never seen a buck with velvet antlers, nor a rack nearly as large. This did not seem a safe place for him. While he may have been less likely to encounter a hunter, but there were fast cars not too far in the distance. We can hope he remains safe -- this is not the wilds of the woods -- but he is smart, he has survived so far, maybe 3 1/2 years old. As I walked away and thought about this magnificent buck, I reflected on how many people would prize his head with antlers on a wall. He is a gentle creature. As for humans…

Photo Detail
Date Taken: 07.2018
Date Uploaded: 08.2018
Photo Location: Highland Park, Illinois, United States of America
Camera: DSC-RX10M4
Copyright: © Debra Rade