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A Buck and his Birthplace
Whitetail Deer
Contributors to this thread:
APauls 20-Aug-21
Stubbleduck 20-Aug-21
LINK 20-Aug-21
WV Mountaineer 20-Aug-21
Stubbleduck 20-Aug-21
Shuteye 20-Aug-21
Denali 20-Aug-21
Shuteye 20-Aug-21
drycreek 20-Aug-21
Thornton 20-Aug-21
BullBuster 21-Aug-21
Rupe 21-Aug-21
Rocky D 21-Aug-21
Rocky D 21-Aug-21
Rupe 21-Aug-21
WV Mountaineer 22-Aug-21
Zbone 22-Aug-21
sticksender 22-Aug-21
rattling_junkie 23-Aug-21
Stubbleduck 23-Aug-21
Rupe 23-Aug-21
From: APauls
20-Aug-21
Curious if there have been any studies in regards to the following. Or if someone knows.

It's been well researched and documented that the vast majorities of yearling bucks disperse. It seems like once the mother doe hoofs them out. So they disperse whatever a mile, a few miles, 5-10 miles, varies on the terrain. Unless she is killed before they disperse, than they generally stick around.

A lot of people seem to think that when bucks leave their core area (typically early rut/late rut) many surmise that they go back to where they were born and check on does there, as it is an area they are familiar with.

Another known point is that the best habitat in the area/region will attract good bucks as they see that the area is superior to where they are living.

So the question is, let's say you create an awesome habitat piece. You've got everything a good buck really needs. Mainly security and food. Cover, water, etc. It's the best around. The vast majority of buck fawns born on your piece will not end up living their adult lives on your piece. But, when they cruise in the rut, and come across your piece, would they potentially "move back?" Has anyone studied this? It seems whitetails are well adapted to ensuring inbreeding doesn't happen by their yearling dispersal etc. Seems counter-intuitive that they might move back, and yet it seems counter-intuitive for a good mature buck to pass on good habitat in favour of substandard habitat. Or do you think that once a buck spends a few years, let's say from 2.5-4.5 in an area and he has now made his "Core area" that that is it. He will never leave it unless it gets logged or something.

Do mature bucks actually change core areas when a better area comes along? Or do they stick to what they know? Those of you with great habitats, do you find yourself attracting new mature bucks?

Curious on everyone's thoughts.

From: Stubbleduck
20-Aug-21
Check out the Penn State University series of whitetail deer studies. They cover movement of various sex and age groupings done with GPS tagged deer. You can get on their mailing list for occasional very interesting research updates.

From: LINK
20-Aug-21
In my personal studies bucks will rut wherever their nose leads them but they’ll summer (bachelor) in the same place year after year.

20-Aug-21
I think in big woods, a deer selects it’s core area based on what it provides. I think that area is much larger then what most people think. Way larger.

I also think they prefer summer habitat. Meaning they will always be in a certain area in the summer to early fall. And, they will literally travel for miles and miles once does start coming into heat. They look until they find one. Then repeat.

I also am certain that late rut is the best time to kill big bucks you’ve never saw before. The month of December, from the second week until Christmas, they move a long ways looking for late or second cycle does. You’ll get them on cameras in travel corridors during the middle of the day even. Never to be seen again.

That was a ling way of saying deer prefer sumner and pre rut range based on where they settled after being dispersed. After that, it’s a guess in big woods. That might not apply to farm deer. But, it’s necessity in big woods deer

From: Stubbleduck
20-Aug-21
Website for the Penn State Deer Study: https://www.deer.psu.edu/ Some of what is in above posts is verified by the research, some is not. The study has been ongoing for several years in a couple of different areas of Pennsylvania.

https://www.deer.psu.edu/

From: Shuteye
20-Aug-21
I know that some of the bucks in my woods don't leave too far until the rut starts. When the rut starts I will see bucks I haven't seen before. For many years I will see bucks with a messed up left antler. There will be an old buck with a messed up antler and a young buck with exactly the same kind of antler. It can't be from an accident, it has to be something in their DNA.

From: Denali
20-Aug-21
I studied 2 different piebald deer that were orphaned as buck fawns. Both summered where they grew up with their mothers and left from Oct to Jan. The captive deer we reintroduced to female siblings and maternal deer were still ostracized by their "relative" deer. Differing levels but absolute. I can only guess that deer can still identify "familiar" deer and those 2 orphaned fawns were not finding much affection where they summered. In captivity, with no other available options, siblings or related deer will breed. But it is a far different courtship than unrelated deer.

From: Shuteye
20-Aug-21
I know that some of the bucks in my woods don't leave too far until the rut starts. When the rut starts I will see bucks I haven't seen before. For many years I will see bucks with a messed up left antler. There will be an old buck with a messed up antler and a young buck with exactly the same kind of antler. It can't be from an accident, it has to be something in their DNA.

From: drycreek
20-Aug-21
What LINK said, and that leads to much frustration. You watch a couple bucks all summer in your plots and on your cameras and as soon as they shed their velvet they’re gone.

From: Thornton
20-Aug-21
I've owned my place for over ten years in KS. I've seen old bucks just disappear because the neighbor wounded or killed them, or flat out ran them out of the country while hunting. A few years later, I'll see a much younger buck with an identical rack, undoubtedly the offspring that frequents the same area. It is my opinion that older bucks will stay in a familiar area for years until something like I mentioned happens. I also think rut makes some old bucks wander far from their home ground in search of does. I watched a giant with probable 16" G2s last rifle season following a doe across an open area I have hunted dozens of times. He acted like he had never been there before. I have seen this happen numerous times, and it often results in the buck getting shot. As mentioned above, bucks will also have winter and summer ranges. I've had the same buck appear on the exact same day two years in a row before, then disappear.

From: BullBuster
21-Aug-21
Those are very interesting questions. It also leads me to the idea of doe nutrition. People talk about how important it is to have healthy does so that they have healthy bucks in an area. If 80 to 90% of those bucks disperse then who cares about the doe nutrition? At least in regard to their buck offspring.

From: Rupe
21-Aug-21
The older a buck gets the less he travels from his core area.

From: Rocky D
21-Aug-21
“ The older a buck gets the less he travels from his core area.”

I may agree with the very old but disagree totally when considering very mature.

From: Rocky D
21-Aug-21
“ The older a buck gets the less he travels from his core area.”

I may agree with the very old but disagree totally when considering very mature.

From: Rupe
21-Aug-21

Rupe's Link
No the older they get the less they travel. I have documented this on my own places and other studies have proven this. The older they get the less they travels. Their home range drops sharply.

“ A common myth is that bucks’ home ranges increase with age. The older they get the more land they control. That’s wrong for several reasons. But the truth is that most bucks’ home ranges decrease as they mature.

According to numerous studies, the home range of the average whitetail is approximately 650 acres. The core area of the average whitetail is 50 to 75 acres. It’s a different story once they get older. The core area commonly shrinks to 40, 30, even 20 acres in size.”

22-Aug-21
A bucks “core area” is going to be dictated solely by his needs. Nothing more. They may tend to travel less as the age. Which would make sense while a previously unseen mature buck just pops up on camera and stays around for the hunting season. But, disappears towards summer. Maybe to never relive that cycle again in the same place.

How many of us would starve or eat salads only if we weren’t able to get a steak? Not many. Deer are no different. And, the difference in habitat are the only variables in that distinction.

They may indeed travel less. But, they’ll put themselves in a place to do just that. So, don’t think for a second the vast majority just stay put because they’ve lost wanderlust. They don’t just “wing it”.

From: Zbone
22-Aug-21
Haven't had time to look at the updated PA radio collared button buck stats but years ago when the first came out with at least a couple years data I think like 60% of the buttons dispersed...

From: sticksender
22-Aug-21
Just to add some more personal experience to the discussion.....here in midwest ag country, I see the same bucks, in the same areas, almost year round. There are some homebody bucks that never seem to leave. Then there are a few that stay around during certain parts of the year, leave for an extended period of time, then return. I rarely see "new" bucks, even during the rut. I typically see the same 15-25 bucks each year, over and over, until they eventually get shot, road killed, or die of natural causes. There are some bucks that only wander through my place occasionally, and often times I later find out (because they get shot by friends and neighbors) that they were living on a close-by neighboring farm. My good friend has a large farm located 3 miles down river from mine, and through years of comparing trail cam pics, we've never seen one single buck common to both farms. As far as older bucks becoming homebodies, I kind of agree but look at it as kind of the inverse.....bucks that have a home-body tendency are typically the ones that get old. But it's very tough to trace one starting from a fawn, since fawns usually possess no distinguishing features. I usually can't start keeping track of a buck until he's grown his first or second rack of antlers.

23-Aug-21
Just wait for the Spartan Forge app to be available.

From: Stubbleduck
23-Aug-21
Here is the most recent (823/2021) blog post from the Penn State Deer study. Actual GPS data on collared deer, both buck s and does. Their maps usually have a scale mark...not sure what happened this time. Anyhow it is interesting that there may be general patterns but individual deer may be doing their own "Thing". https://www.deer.psu.edu/the-line-in-the-sand-or-forest/

From: Rupe
23-Aug-21
Great information Gregg.

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