Can Whitetail Button Bucks Breed?

Hey Mike, quick question for ya! Can nubby bucks breed? Thanks, Jake

Interesting question. A biologist I know did a study with penned doe fawns and buttons. There were no adult bucks in the cage. Some does got pregnant, so obviously some of those nubbies were breeding. The biologist figured maybe 50 percent of the nubbies had viable sperm. He pointed out that this was in a highly controlled environment, and those young deer received top-grade nutrition.

As for the wild deer we hunt, I go with what my man Sarge Vasquez, wildlife biologist at Jacalon Ranch in South Texas, says: “Nubbies are only 6 months old when the rut kicks in. It is highly unlikely they are considered in the breeding population. Can it happen? Well, anything can happen, but usually no. 1.5-year-old spikes are a different story, for sure they can breed."

Anybody out there seen a nubby try to mount a doe? comment


Licking Branch's Gravatar I have not witnessed a "nubbie" trying to breed nor even scent checking for a doe in heat. They seem to be the only deer in my woods not involved with anything other than cruising and filling their bellies during the rut. Like you, I think it COULD happen, but I'd think it would be VERY rare. In the wild you have all age classes and dominance levels so I just couldn't see it happening, they know their place in line. A penned situtaion with only deer of the same age is not even comparable to a free range situation where all age classes set the dominance order. I'd be shocked to hear anyone say they have witnessed this event, but never say never to anything I guess.
# Posted By Licking Branch | 7/23/09 12:59 PM
David in NC's Gravatar I have never witnessed a button buck breeding, but last year I did witness one chasing an adult doe back and forth in front of my stand during the rut. Presumably for the purpose of breeding - and no it wasn't following its mother, it was definitely chasing. That doesn't say much for my hunting spot does it?
# Posted By David in NC | 7/23/09 1:05 PM
Dean Weimer's Gravatar I've seen buttons try to mount their mothers in the summer, and try to mount their sister too. I've also seen bucks try to mount other bucks. This is why I don't put a lot of faith into "mounting" behavior. Deer are animals and not unlike dogs that try to mount things.

Mike, I love how you used the word "viable" in your blog post. Many people overestimate the sperm production capabilities of whitetail bucks...even during the rut. Bucks go through "puberty" every year. They only produce small amounts of viable sperm, unlike bull cattle, which produde plenty of it year-round. Viable means (in my best un-biological estimate) "enough to get the job done". LOL!

Great blog post today Mike!
# Posted By Dean Weimer | 7/23/09 1:30 PM
ian in wisconsin's Gravatar never seen it either however two years ago i rattled in three nub buck all at one time they came crashing to the horns but cud they have breed with that doe if she was there prob not
# Posted By ian in wisconsin | 7/23/09 1:39 PM
NY Bowhunter's Gravatar Never saw a button buck trying to breed, but one year I did see a 3 point breeding a doe.
# Posted By NY Bowhunter | 7/23/09 4:34 PM
Scott from MI's Gravatar I've seen button bucks trying to mount other yearling does on a couple different occations but never on a mature doe.
# Posted By Scott from MI | 7/23/09 5:49 PM
Jake in WI's Gravatar Thanks for the post Mike!
If only you could hear all the questions we come up with in our break room at work!
# Posted By Jake in WI | 7/24/09 12:37 AM
joshd's Gravatar a little late on this comment as well, but, research has found that whitetailed deer are able to breed as nubbies, but only if they reach a live wieght of about 80 lbs. or larger. same goes for the girls...
# Posted By joshd | 7/29/09 8:34 PM
Josh King's Gravatar This is funny I googled the question just now: do button bucks breed? It's funny today 12/02/2013 in north central pa firearm season opened an we were after a nice 130" 9 pointer we jumped an in a cut corn field under the bridge for rte 15 highway we seen a button buck try four times in a row mount a doe. Ironic. We are in little town called lawrenceville pa its literally on the pa ny boarder an firearm is open in both states. We have deer farm in town an makes for a interesting rut on out skirts of town
# Posted By Josh King | 12/2/13 8:17 PM