There are multiple benefits to bucks hanging out together.
QUESTION: I know that bucks group together in bachelor herds, and I was wondering why. – Todd S.
ANSWER: Everything happens for a reason, right? Bachelor herds or groups are loose social aggregations of males that form as early as spring, but typically become larger, more coalesced and more obvious in late summer and into early fall. By loose, I mean that composition of the group changes from day to day. One day there might be a dozen or more bucks together, and the next there might be only five or six. Individuals filter in and out of the group on any given day, too. About the only consistency is that the groups typically contain bucks whose home range overlaps group concentration areas, which probably suggests the reason for these groups.
It is likely related to, and helps form the social structure of the local herd. By being in close proximity, individual males get to know one another over the course of the summer. While it’s much more subtle, they are already sizing up one another and laying the groundwork for the dominance hierarchy within the herd. As days grow shorter, subtle gestures and body language begin morphing into casual shoving matches, then to sparring and later, after the herds break up, fighting. However, it is all that subtle, lead-in that probably reduces the incidence of aggressive interaction, which could result in injury. Injuries reduce a buck’s ability to breed and can lead to death. By sorting it out like gentlemen, they have a better chance of survival and passing along their genes to the next generation. — Recent Ask the Biologist Question:
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