nser to an e-mail question

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nser to an e-mail question

Postby TRMichels » Tue Sep 20, 2011 4:03 pm

I got this e-mail question this morning. It is one get often, so I thought I'd post my answer here.

Q: I have your book, and I found some buck beds up on a ridge. What time of day do bucks leave their beds, and where should I set up in relation to them

A: It is coincidental that you asked me this question today, because I was just thinking about how many hunters do not understand deer biology and behavior, especially that of bucks, and how to read and interpret deer sign, so that they can figure out what the deer was doing when it left that sign. If you understand deer biology and behavior, and know how to read and interpret deer sign, and if you see enough of it - spread out over the area that you hunt - you can put all of the clues together and figure out what time of day the deer was in particular locations, whether it was a buck or a doe, whether it was mature or not, sometimes the relative age of a buck, sometimes the relative rack size of a buck, which way the deer was going, and where it is most likely to travel, feed and bed.

There are two major things about deer behavior that hunters should always think about: 1. Several different studies show that during the fall (when the leaves are either falling or have fallen, food sources are changing and when the breeding season occurs) a deer rarely travels more than 2.5 miles during a 24 hours period. The majority of that movement will be within two hours of both sunset and sunrise, with most of the movement occurring from 4 in the evening until 10 in the morning. 2. White-tailed deer generally have what is referred to as an "annual home range" within which they spend the majority of their life. Within the annual home range they may have as many as four "seasonal home ranges", depending on where the food sources are and on the thermal bedding needs of the deer at that time of year. These home ranges are generally 2-3 times longer than they are wide, and from 1.5-2 miles in length.

What this means to the hunters is that; when you see a deer between one and two hours before sunset you are probably not more than one-quarter mile from its core area, and when you see a deer within 1 hour of sunset, you are probably not more than one-half mile from its core area. If you know which direction the deer came from, you know which direction the core area probably is. If you see a deer within an hour of sunrise, it is probably headed to the core are and it is probably not more than a mile from the core area.

So – for your question
If you have my book you should realize that deer get up from their core areas (where you are finding buck beds) in the evening to go out and feed during the 1-2 hours before and after sunset.

First off realize that a buck can and may bed anywhere within its core area, which could be up to 500 acres in size, but generally smaller. And they will bed in different areas each day, depending on what the weather is doing. If the wind comes from the southeast, then they will be on the northwest side of a hill, but if normal winds come from the north or nrthwest, they will bed on south or southeast sides. If it is sunny and warm they often bed in areas that offer shade or wind or cooling near water. But, if it is sunny and cold, they will bed in areas out of the wind, out of the shade and in the sun.

What you need to do is try to figure out how big of an area the buck uses as a core area, but at least figure out what trail or trails it uses as it leaves the core area to come out and feed at night. Sooner or later all o the trails out of a core area join into one trail, where you may eventually find rubs on 1-2 inch trees. Once you find the probable start of the rub route, figure out where the buck travels that route the first time in the afternoon, and set up along it, where you will have the best chance of seeing it during the evening. From late August to mid August is the time when bucks begin to semi-regularly travel rub routes on their summer home ranges.

In some areas (often in limited good habitat, or vast areas of one type of habitat - as in primarily agricultural fields, or primarily big woods) deer may use separate summer and fall home ranges. If it uses separate summer and fall home ranges (the fall home range is usually its primary breeding range), it may move (as much as several miles) to a new daytime core area, where it (if it is over 3 years of age) will have preferred bedding areas, and a new travel route. If you no longer see the buck in one area, and rub and scrape activity falls off or stops altogether, either the buck is dead, or it has moved to a fall home range, or a new area. If this happens you should look for fresh rubs and scrapes, in a different area, to locate a rub route / trail of the bucks in that area, and backtrack the rub routes to the buck core areas.

A buck will generally use a different rub route / trail to go back to it daytime core area in the evening than in the morning, along which you may find rubs on 1-2 inch trees, as the trail leads back to its daytime core area (generally a wooded area). It may use part of the same rub route trail it uses in the evening once it gets close to its core are, or it may use a completely different route/trail into the core area. Once it gets into the core area, the trail may split into several different very lightly used trails, because the buck chooses bedding sites on different days based on the weather conditions each day. You can also setup along an evening rub route either before it splits up into several different trails, and (always - if you can, but the core area may not be on the property you hunt) where the deer will travel during legal daylight hunting hours.

No matter where you hunt, you need to get to your hunting location at least 1 hour before you expect the buck to get there - to let the area settle down (other animals reactions), and let any unnatural scents dissipate. I like to get there at lest 2 hours ahead of time, just in case some deer got anxious and moved early.

May Yahweh-God bless you and yours,

T.R. Michels
Trinity Mountain Outdoors Hunting Magazine Website
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