Outdoor Life - - THE BUCK PROFILE -

Aglimpse of wrist-thick antler, a low growl­ing grunt, and a flag­ging white tail. For most of us, en­coun­ters with gi­ant old white­tail bucks are rare and fleet­ing. So when we do come across these deer, we of­ten mis­un­der­stand them and they slip away. But Gps-col­lar re­search and ad­vanced trail-cam­era scout­ing tech­niques are giv­ing us a clearer view into the se­cre­tive lives of ma­ture white­tails. Sure, plenty of stud­ies in­di­cate that deer are in­di­vid­u­als. But, a deeper dive— in­clud­ing in­ter­views with ex­perts and a re­view of count­less stud­ies—shows that older bucks can be cat­e­go­rized into per­son­al­ity types. And fig­ur­ing out a buck’s pro­file can give you the clues you need to suc­cess­fully hunt him.


This buck reg­u­larly shows up on cam­era right af­ter other deer ar­rive at a food source. He dis­plays dom­i­nant pos­ture, runs off smaller bucks, and has busted-up tines.


A dom­i­nant buck look­ing for a fight is one of the best types of deer to tar­get, says Dr. Grant Woods, a well­re­garded wildlife bi­ol­o­gist who spe­cial­izes in help­ing landown­ers set up prop­er­ties for deer hunt­ing. Woods sets the ma­jor­ity of his cam­eras to cap­ture video clips of bucks at food plots, salt licks, and other ar­eas where deer con­gre­gate be­cause he wants to read in­di­vid­ual buck be­hav­ior. It’s eas­ier to in­ter­pret that be­hav­ior through video than it is through a se­ries of pho­tos. The ideal sce­nario is iden­ti­fy­ing a ma­ture brawler buck early in the fall.

“When I see a ma­ture buck that is ag­gres­sive to­ward other bucks, I pay at­ten­tion,” says Woods. “That buck is likely eas­ier to grunt or rat­tle in. In con­trast, when I see a big buck that is al­ways alone and comes in af­ter sun­set, I know I have a tough buck to hunt. My time is fi­nite, so why waste my pre­cious hunt­ing days on a buck I might never see? All other things be­ing equal, I’m go­ing af­ter the ag­gres­sive buck.”

When you find an ag­gres­sive buck, make sure to hunt him hard as soon as weather con­di­tions al­low. Brawlers will be vul­ner­a­ble in the pre-rut phase, and the clas­sic tac­tic of rat­tling out­side his bed­room can be killer. If you’re not able to bring this buck into bow range early, your neigh­bor very well might.

A boss buck stares down a younger chal­lenger dur­ing the rut in Mon­tana.

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