Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Where the Antelope Play

A buck keeping his does closely gathered.
This is the time of year when the Pronghorn Antelope bucks gather does into a sort of harem since it is breeding season. It isn't an easy task as they chase around like a cowboy on horseback gathering cows in a pasture. Invariably when a cowboy moves off to bring a new cow into the herd, a few ornery ones already gathered will see this as an opportunity to sneak off. The same thing happens with a buck's does, only they do it any time the buck's back is turned whether he is off gathering a new doe or not. It ends up being lots of quick ducking and diving across the prairie at high speeds for a Pronghorn Antelope can run up to 60 mph and turn really quick. Don't believe the statistics of 53 mph because I've clocked several going 60 just on the other side of the fence while I was driving down the road. And it isn't an easy task for a doe to nonchalantly slip away. The buck is expecting it and he has a 300 to 320 degree field of vision. Plus, the ability to see as if they were looking through a 8 power set of binoculars.
These pictures are taken right behind our house.
But it isn't every buck that joins in on breeding season for the older bucks aren't willing to share and it's a competition t
o see how many does they can acquire and retain. The does aren't too impressed by the younger bucks. And their lack of skills ends them up in a 'out of luck' herd where the inexperienced gather and I would imagine console one another. The kicker is these are the same older bucks that the younger bucks were in a herd with in the springtime while the does banded together in preparation to give birth.
Note the fawn between the buck and doe.
This fierce competition means that another buck's does are fair game, if they can cut them from the herd and run off with them. The older more experienced and aggressive bucks gaining the most does. It can be quite entertaining to sit and watch the antics. This shenanigans is exhausting for the animals and they can't run off too many calories before winter, so after a while everyone calms down and the does stay with their bucks.

I wonder if it is the same one that was in our yard when I walked home from doing chores. I'd had the back fence down and the fawn wondered in. I didn't notice it until I'd come around the corner of the forging shed and it was under the clothes line. It was too late for me to undo the fence before it made a dash to escape the yard.

After running back an forth and trying to find a way to go under the gate, which is the natural instinct of an antelope, it widened the gap between the gate and the post and slipped through. Notice the big puff of white hair on its rump. That is an alarm as the hairs stick up when they are scared. The bucks in particular, snort with a loud exhale of air as you get near them and it is a warning for the animals in the herd. If you don't heed the noise and move away from them, they will run off.

This little one was born late but within a few hours of birth it was dry and ready to run. A Pronghorn Antelopes gestation is 250 days, long in comparison to their 110 to 130 pound size. Elk are 240 to 260 days and weigh in at 500 to 700 pounds. That tells you how developed these little ones are when they're born on the wide open prairie, where their big eyes keep the coyotes in sight and their long legs keep them at a distance. We have more Pronghorn Antelope in our county than anywhere in the world.

P.S. Linda, I'll let you know the answer to your question later today. I separated yesterday but I discovered the milk pitcher measure and the quart jar weren't anywhere near the same. I had to finish canning some pumpkins and get supper for my hubby. The pitcher is full of milk ready for the corrals this morning and I'll empty it and figure out approximately how much milk makes how much cream. That is after I babysit my grand daughters at their house for the day then I'll let you know.

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