THE SHIFTER

Outdoor Life - - THE BUCK PROFILE -

HIS M.O.:

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.

PRO­FILE:

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.

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