Whether sifting through sand, or scrambling over a rocky shore, it's about finding treasures in every day. 

Bucks in Velvet

Over the course of the summer male deer grow bones out of their head. The boneheads might be on the other end of the rifle, though, having just spent the price of a small car to outfit themselves to go hunt down some free meat.

Okay, I jest.

Hunting season opens soon, and there are guys around here counting the hours. The bucks are still in velvet, haven't really fattened up yet, and the weather is too warm to hang a deer up to age the meat, but that is not going to stop the vast majority of hunters and huntresses interested in some red meat to pack into the freezer for winter. Me included.

This young Sitka blacktail buck (Odocoileus hemionus sitkensis) will be a forked horn if those antlers get a chance to finish growing.

Antlers are the fastest growing bone in the animal world, but our little Sitka blacktail deer here in Southeast Alaska don't have big, heavy, trophy racks like mule deer or whitetails. But then the bucks only average 120 pounds....in the round.

Yearling bucks in Southeast Alaska are usually either "buttons" or "spikes."

This button buck may grow into his ears in a few years.

And when this guy grows up he won't have to take any grief off of his sister.

Twins hang together for a year or more, and sometimes get on each others' case just like kids. But they kiss and make nice, too.

Spikes have two neat little antlers poking out of their head. Usually.

Elliot here is going to have a tough and confusing season.

As those antlers grow under their layer of velvet-covered skin the does become very interesting.

And the chase is on.

I have been seeing bucks and does paired up for a month now. Of course relationships may change as daylight hours decrease, the bucks flood with testosterone, and their velvet is shed off to reveal sharp, burnished tools for competition.

Right now, though, the the antler structure is growing fast, and isn't strong yet. As those antlers reach their full size for the year the bone will fill in and harden.

This wary pair hadn't quite shed out yet.

This buck kept moving so that he was looking over his back on one side, then the other. It is a good defensive move, giving him the ability to take off without having to turn around, but he looked like he was trying to hide behind his butt.

But then a salmonberry bush looked too tasty to pass up.

You just keep munching Mr. Buck

You are going to need every bit of fat you can put on to get through the rut and winter.

This guy is not sure about which pest is worse - the photographer or the horsefly on his nose.

Such sleek, majestic creatures!

But there are exeptions...


Alaska Beachcomber