You’ll have this buck on camera regularly early in the season, then he’ll disappear when hunting pressure increases. If you keep records of your photos, you’ll notice that this happens with the same buck year after year.
Biologists don’t yet know what percentage of bucks relocate from a summer to a fall range, but some certainly do. Dr. Karl Miller, a renowned deer researcher with the University of Georgia, guesses that “maybe 10 percent of bucks relocate,” but many more bucks shift around within their home range as they look for estrous does. Miller points to research done in Pennsylvania by one of his students as a prime example.
For the study, researcher Andy Olson mapped a buck’s movements (via GPS) and found him shifting from one part of his mountainous home range to another in each week of November.
“Clearly the areas of his home range that he used on a weekly basis shifted through the rut,” Miller says.
All of this, of course, is also influenced by hunting pressure. Murphy explains that a study in hunting pressure on a 4,600-acre Oklahoma property found that when there was one hunter per
250 acres, buck movement during daylight wasn’t affected much, but when there was one hunter per 75 acres, daytime observations of bucks declined to near zero. Importantly, this change in buck behavior occurred just three days after the hunting pressure turned on.
The takeaway? Minimize hunting pressure on your property, or target public-land spots where other hunters aren’t willing to go. You’ll see more bucks during daylight, and you’ll also have wary old bucks move into your hunting area as the season progresses.
A stud buck slinks off to cover. It takes minimal hunting pressure to shift bucks into new home ranges.