THE HOME­BODY

Outdoor Life - - THE BUCK PROFILE -

HIS M.O.:

You’ll see this buck all the time when he’s two and three years old. By the time he’s fully ma­ture, sight­ings will be few and far be­tween, and his trail cam pho­tos will all be night shots. He’s still in the area. You just never see him at your reg­u­lar stand sites.

PRO­FILE:

As bucks get older, their home range and core ar­eas (the spots within their home range where they spend at least 50 per­cent of their time) tend to shrink. A study done by Dr. Mickey Hel­lick­son, the chief wildlife bi­ol­o­gist at the King Ranch in Texas, found that the home range of bucks shrunk from 2,278 acres at two and a half years old to 1,055 acres at seven and a half. Also, the bucks’ core ar­eas fell from 356 acres to 151 for these same age classes. The num­ber of acres isn’t as im­por­tant as this: Over the years, a buck finds out where he is safe in day­light.

“If you’re out­side a buck’s core by even a lit­tle bit, your chances of see­ing him are greatly re­duced,” says QDMA’S Mur­phy. “In one in­stance, I moved a stand just 50 yards— af­ter trail cam­eras showed what a buck was do­ing—and then killed him.”

Of­ten­times, these home­body bucks are noc­tur­nal. Here, Mur­phy re­counts a ghosthunt­ing story: “We had one buck that al­most never left a 200-acre sec­tion in day­light. He had a small home range and moved very lit­tle dur­ing day­light. Every year our cam­eras would get him af­ter dark, but we’d never see him in the field. We fi­nally hung two stands right in his core area. It took us two sea­sons, but we got him. Ac­cord­ing to the best tooth-ag­ing lab in the U.S., that buck was 15½ years old.”

So be­sides pure luck, how do you kill a noc­tur­nal home­body buck?

Miller might have the an­swer. He says some stud­ies in­di­cate that dif­fer­ent bucks have dif­fer­ent breed­ing strate­gies. Gps-col­lar re­search has shown that cer­tain bucks con­tin­u­ally check on spe­cific doe groups in a small area in­stead of rang­ing far and wide to find a doe in heat. So when does in that home­body buck’s area go into es­trus, you just might be able to catch a him out in the day­light hours.

To make things even more com­pli­cated, many Gps-col­lar stud­ies have shown that bucks don’t have home ranges shaped in neat cir­cles, like you might ex­pect. Most have ranges that branch off in aber­rant arms and legs.

For a hunter, this means it’s crit­i­cal to con­tinue gath­er­ing clues about a home­body buck all sea­son long. Keep mov­ing trail cam­eras and stand lo­ca­tions to zero in on his core area. Then, when the wind is right, sneak in and make your shot count.

A buck hides out on the edge of heavy cover.

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