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Mature bucks home range move
Curious what the thoughts are from those that have made habitat changes.
From my experience with mature whitetails they generally do not like to shift their home ranges. Just kind of looking into the future here, and excited about the property I bought. This will now be my 2nd spring on the piece, and I will be picking rocks and working it this year. Of the 240 acres I will have a farmer working on about 55 acres this year that will be winter wheat come fall time. (Or at least that is the plan) The entire last year I could not verify a single buck living on the piece. Of course some came through in the rut, but none were there during the season, or after the rut. The piece is a great sanctuary up against a river so I'm actually surprised there were none living there, but I'm wondering if the lack of food has something to do with it. There was none on the property and there was cattle. There has been no hunting here for roughly 50 years with moderate pressure mainly rifle surrounding.
For this upcoming year I think I am making two key changes: there will be no more cattle, and there will be some food on the property. In your opinion might I see mature bucks move in, or is the most likely scenario watching some 1.5 year old bucks move in and grow up on the piece. I have seen mature bucks, a couple real beauties within a few miles of my piece, so they are in the vicinity. I did not verify any strolling through during the rut via eye or cameras.
Just curious what other people have seen for changes when they took over a property and made some changes. Thanks!
Adding food will be a game changer and you can expect to see mature bucks move in. Is your food visible from roads or secluded? I have 2 properties roughly the size of yours and I have created secluded food plots and believe that has made a lot of difference in getting mature bucks out in the daylight. I killed this one in October 1+ hour before dark with a muzz..... my buddy missed him the day before when he came out 1 1/2 hours before dark.
Interesting question Adam. I’m in exactly same situation. 2nd spring, just establishing food plots, tons does, good cover, no pressure and no mature bucks. Time will tell I suppose.
If you have the opportunity to put in plots make them big enough. IMO a couple of 1/2 acre plots on 250 acres won’t make a significant difference in the property. On 250 acres I would be thinking 7 to 8 acres of food with 3 two acre plots and some 1/2 to 1 acre plots spread out. It’s all about the food. If you want to consistently kill big bucks you need to become a good farmer. I used to anticipate the rut hoping a big buck would come my way. With food I dread the rut for fear the big bucks I am carrying will wander off. Another pic of a good buck I arrowed pre rut a few years ago.
Congrats on the property! There is nothing like working and and hunting on your own dirt! I think the two things you mentioned (no cattle, and food) will be HUGE improvements. I like to think long term, with your improvements each year, more and more bucks will take up residency. In my opinion cattle do a lot of harm and deer tend to not want to share the same land. Since you said there is already a sanctuary (bedding area), if you can provide them food I think deer will move in and stay there, but again, it might take a couple of years.
I owned 63 acres within a bow hunting only refuge. Worked hard for many years establishing bedding areas adjacent to the back side of the property bordering a seven acre pond. Lots of privacy for deer. Also put in 9 acres of excellent food plot. Attracted good numbers of deer but only the doe and fawn stayed on the property and a couple of young bucks. I shot some decent mature bucks their about every 4-5 years all migrants during the rut. Never could hold any of those mature 3-5 year olds on the property. They always came and went. My thoughts after 20 years of hunting it were the country around it was great deer habitat and big acreage. Try as hard as I did those mature bucks just preferred bigger more secluded areas. Sometimes you can make it all available it’s just not going to work the way you want it to. Had allot of enjoyment making it into what it is but never reached that goal of having a mature buck take up residence. Good luck with yours it may turn out different.
Deerplotter.... curious as to what kind of food you were planting on the 9 acres. That sounds like a great setup.... surprised you were not holding mature deer.
Mike that sounds super awesome. At this point I am at no illusions of where I am in life so I need to keep my goals simple. I am not going to be a farmer there, I know how much time it takes. I am having a farmer work the 55 acres, he usually rotates oats and soybeans, but simply starting with the winter wheat this year to get something in after it's worked. I will have a secluded section roughly 4.5 acres that will have clover planted into the winter wheat and simply allow the clover to take over. This will be sold off as hay in it's cuttings. In another area I will have 0.4 acres of clover that is very very secluded but up against the river. The main 55 acre field that the farmer is working is visible from the road. It is fenced, but visible. I should have an order of hundreds of trees coming in that I will plant after he has broke the ground this spring. I'll just try and plant trees and unfortunately have to wait the time for them to grow up. I'm thinking two rows, one of pines, and another a quicker growing willow or something so that I hope to have obstruction in a few years.
Like I said, I know where I'm at in life, I've got a couple businesses to run and a young family so I can't be a farmer right now. Maybe one day, but right now I need to have the farmers do the farming. Just feeling really blessed to get this far, and appreciate the insights from the guys who have taken over property.
The dark green large area is the area the farmer will be working for cash crops. Bigger light green is going to be clover over winter wheat this year then let clover take over. Small lights green up against the river is just a clover patch.
You can see the northern edge of the cash crop field a line that heads NW that is a fence line. The entire southern range below this fence line is where cattle used to roam up until November of this past fall.
Having a farmer do it is even better but I would work with him. Maybe pay him to leave an acre or so of beans in a back corner close to deer bedding would be killer. Will there always be a winter crop? One thing that will work extremely well.... in September before a good rain, go in and broadcast winter wheat and radishes into the standing beans. Obviously not the whole 55 acres but a couple of acres in a back corner could be fantastic.
Deer in my wheat/medium red clover plot
Deer in my wheat/medium red clover plot
APauls, in my experience "if you build it, they will come". Food plots and cover that is. Three years ago I joined a 350ish acre lease with a couple friends and one of their friends. Hardly any doe/fawn pics on that place the first year and few bucks, most of them wandering through during the rut. This is mostly plantation pine with some mature pine/hardwood mix in the creek bottom. In other words, not much year 'round food.
Since I'm a plotter, the first thing I did was start planting. IC peas in the spring, wheat and Austrian winter peas in the fall. After the first year we were seeing more does and fawns and bucks were there in better numbers and year 'round also. To add to that, the landowners thinned timber two winters in a row, opening up the canopy and creating more native browse. We probably have twice as many deer than we did three years ago, and unfortunately, twice as many hogs. It's a gravy and lump thing though, improve the deer food, and you somewhat improve the hog food. They eat that wheat just like deer do. :-(
If you have, or can create, food, cover, and water, I guarantee your deer population will grow. I did it on the 217 acres that I owned, on the 85 acres where I live, and the lease I'm on. Go to work and good luck !
This is a pretty interesting study conducted by MS State Univ. regarding home range movement.
Adam, what is the current doe WT population on the property? ie, "find the girls and you will find the boys".
I'm curious how you know there aren't any mature bucks living there? Obviously I'm guessing you are basing this on use of cameras, but how many would you have to have to know there isn't a single mature buck on the place? Regardless, improving cover/security and food can only bring more. I am really not experienced on this particular topic, but would tend to think a mature buck would move in the right scenario. However, mature bucks that get an established summer pattern with little in the way of disturbance, probably aren't going anywhere. My $0.02, and it really is that much because I'm not much of a big buck hunter, but in my experience, avoiding disturbance is the #1 non-rut priority of a wild mature whitetail buck.
Paul I don’t have a concrete guess on doe populations as there are no doe only tags for the area and I wasn’t seeing bucks so I didn’t hunt it much. If I had to guess I’d say I’ve got about 15ish resident animals being does and fawns included.
Franzen as I stated before you’re right I am only guessing that I have no resident bucks. I never saw a single one on camera or by eye. Usually even if you can’t see em they rub and scrape, and I didn’t find a single rub or scrape on the property until into November. I put up mock scrapes in October in a couple areas hoping to “flush a resident out” if there was one and never had a hit until November. So I’m basing it on lack of tracks (we had some early snows) lack of rubs, scrapes, sightings and pictures.
Don't know if it's a much as changing ranges but more of migration... I do know whitetails around here will migrate from winter to summer ranges, and as already said, a lot has to do with crop rotation... 2 or 3 miles is not uncommon, and even 10 miles or more miles is not unheard of...