Photographing a Swollen-Necked 8-point White-tailed Buck


Today I’m sharing images of an incredible 8-point White-tailed Buck that I was fortunate enough to see last November (11/22/2022) at the Sequoyah National Wildlife Refuge in Oklahoma. This healthy looking buck was standing majestically on the side of the auto tour road near Miner’s Cove when I captured the first  photo.

8-point White-tailed Buck On Side Of The Auto Tour Road
8-point White-tailed Buck On Side Of The Auto Tour Road | Sequoyah National Wildlife Refuge

As you can see in the first image, the buck was standing alert, keeping a watchful eye on me as I photographed him from inside my vehicle. His rack of eight points stood out against the brown grass behind him.

After pausing for a few moments, the buck then began crossing the road in front of me. I was ready with my camera and captured this shot:

8-point White-tailed Buck Crossing Auto Tour Road
8-point White-tailed Buck Crossing Auto Tour Road | Sequoyah National Wildlife Refuge

Earlier that morning, I had seen this same buck crossing the auto tour road on the far west side of the refuge near Reeve’s Boat Ramp. Having spotted him previously, I had a hunch he might cross again near Miner’s Cove, so I drove there in hopes of intercepting his path. My instincts proved right and I was thrilled to have the opportunity to photograph this magnificent animal.

I also noticed that this buck had a swollen neck, which is common among White-tailed Bucks during breeding season. The increase in testosterone causes their necks to enlarge. All the rubbing on trees and saplings also contributes to their swollen necks, enlarging their neck muscles similar to an athlete working out with weights. The massive neck muscles make the bucks look more intimidating and attractive during the rut when they are expending huge amounts of energy. Their swollen necks help them establish dominance over other males in preparation for breeding.

These encounters are what make wildlife photography so rewarding for me. Being able to observe animals undisturbed in their natural habitat and capture fleeting moments like these are the moments I live for. I feel extremely privileged to have seen this healthy eight-pointer on his morning journey before he disappeared into an area closed to the public. Days like this remind me why I became a wildlife photographer in the first place.

Image Information (First Image):

  • Date: 11/22/2022
  • Time: 9:58 AM
  • Location: Sequoyah National Wildlife Refuge in Oklahoma
  • Camera: Canon EOS R7
  • Lens: Canon RF 800
  • ISO: 1600
  • Aperture: 11
  • Shutter: 1/1000
  • Exp. Comp.: -0.3
  • Program: Manual

Related Post:

8-point Whitetail Buck During The Rut