Contributors to this thread:
I live in MS - and its rare to see a mature buck in velvet October 1st - but it does happen.
so 3 years ago i began to notice a bachelor group of bucks close to my house in late summer - I thought it was a fluke as there is poor habitat in the area with very little cover - and i almost never see deer in this area. It is mostly cow pastures and really open timber. i did a little scouting in the area and hung some cameras - i was astounded at the number of bucks that i found in the area.
I opened my search up to other areas where there is usually very little deer activity during the deer season. I hung cameras, scouted and quickly found bachelor groups of mature bucks. one thing that stayed consistent through out my scouting was the lack of doe and fawn pictures in these areas - i believe due to lack of bedding cover.
Here is my theory:
While a mature bucks antlers are growing - they feel uncomfortable - throbbing - probably similar to your thumb after it was hit by a hammer - If a deer hangs his antlers on a limb or briar it hurts him really bad. how often do you see a deer with damaged velvet during the summer? its Rare!
I believe these deer seek out areas that are easy to walk through and do not have a lot of snags or briars to catch their antlers....
Since i have been looking for "velvet ground" and i consistently find mature bucks in areas i would have never looked before - these deer usually leave the areas within 10 days to 2 weeks of velvet shedding...
One of the places that i have found mature bachelor groups is a 20+ year old pine plantation that had nearly zero cover - you can walk through it with flip flops on... July-Aug-Sept there will be 1 -2 bachelor groups of bucks there.. October - Jan there will only be an occasional deer walk through at best..
do you think there is any truth to my theory ?
I would agree that many bucks seem to prefer more "open" territory while in the velvet stage. Now then, whether is because the mama does essentially get first dibs on the best habitat at that time of the year or because the papa bucks want to guard against damaging their racks is something that can debated IMO. I think it could be some of both.
I tend to think no. I didn't save the cam pic, should have I guess. But I had a trail cam pic the other day in a high scrape area, and there was a velvet buck thrashing limbs with his antlers. . . .
I tend to agree that the does call dibs on the best bedding cover for fawning season. I'm not sure whether the does will actually bully bucks away from these areas, or whether it's just the mechanism God built into them.
Also, those low cover areas in the summer, have more cover than you think. It doesn't take much grass to hide a deer
Mule deer will stay above tree line in Colorado until antlers harden then they immediately head into the brush and trees. I vote for velvet antlers having nerve endings that fire when hit or scratched. The thin lines that you see running along the hardened antler are where the blood vessels under the velvet carried nutrients to the growing antler.
I think it's multi-factored. Probably preferred browse in some more open areas along with crops etc. The insect situation could be different in those areas and less pressure as well. They definitely live in the woods in Kansas and Montana but areas with heavy underbrush that could snag, tear velvet is probably being avoided as well.
Bucks prefer areas without does/fawns most of the year. There is plenty of cover almost everywhere during the summer. The open areas also provide a bit of a relief from insects. Not saying that the velvet theory is wrong, it makes sense.
All males of deer species will spend most of the time in the open or much more open country when their antlers are growing. They don’t like bumping their antlers on brush.
See it with elk, mule deer, Coues, caribou, moose and white tails.
I prefer to hunt early when I can see them and know what I’m going after rather than in the rut when they are constantly on the move.
Yes, your theory is correct.
Interesting subject....thanks for posting.
Ya, I've always thought the same. It is a living tissue that is vulnerable to damage. Makes sense to guard it. That being said, there are some big bucks that live in pretty thick timber when growing. Like guys say though, there are so many different variables. So many crops even provide both food and cover that are not there in the fall. So many grasses grow tall, there are just so many more options throughout the summer that don't exist later in the year. Some bucks like em, some don't.
Interesting theory, you may be on to something!