July 23, 2013
Deer Hunting: What to Do When Your Summer Buck Vanishes - 1
As summer progresses, you perform due diligence, hanging and checking cameras around food sources to keep an eye on the local deer population. There’s one buck that keeps appearing like clockwork, and throughout the summer you’ve watched his antlers grow until he’s become a magnificent trophy. All you’re waiting on now is the arrival of hunting season. After that, it’s only a matter of time before the buck makes a mistake and shows up during daylight. Then, just as you get his routine down pat, he vanishes. What happened?
First of all, don’t panic. You can still get your buck, but you may have to rethink your strategy to intercept him. Here are five key things to remember when a big deer goes AWOL.
He’s Still Close By
But bucks will concentrate their activity into smaller areas within their home range, depending on the season. For example, a buck’s range may encompass 1 square mile (640 acres), but he’ll use different small portions of it on a seasonal basis. Rotate your cameras throughout other sections of your property, and you ought to find him nearby.
The Food Source Shifts
He’s on His Own Now
“Buck home ranges will overlap because deer are not territorial. When bucks form bachelor groups, each one is probably still using a portion of his larger annual (or lifetime) home range,” says Webb. Although the buck may not be using your property as much anymore, there is good news: The fact that you caught him on camera earlier in the year likely indicates that a portion of his home range extends onto your property, which should give you a chance to see him again, maybe even when the rut kicks in.
Something Has Disturbed Him
“Movements increase and become more linear,” Webb says. This type of behavior is characteristic of bucks searching for does. It may drive us mad when we can’t pattern the buck we’ve been monitoring, but the good news is that bucks are on the move, frequenting most areas of their home range. With bucks covering such large areas, there will be a good chance of encountering a greater number of bucks during the rut—maybe one that’s even bigger than the one you were scouting in the first place.