Author: National Deer Association
Published: November 16, 2022

Hunters, did you know this?

“If you shoot a bunch of does, you won’t see any bucks!” I have heard this phrase and its variations time and time again over my years as a deer hunter, land manager and biologist. While I understand what these folks are trying to say, scientific research has shown repeatedly that this just isn’t accurate. Does attract bucks during the rut, but in a local sense. Protecting and stockpiling does will not draw bucks from other areas, and having too many does around is actually counterproductive to your ability to see and hunt bucks.

Buck Home Ranges

Bucks inhabit what are called home ranges and core areas. Home range is the entire area that a buck uses across a year, while the core area is a central location within the home range where he spends the majority of his time. In fact, deer maintain a fairly small home range and core area throughout much of the year. Home-range and core-area use and size increase during the pre-rut and rut, but overall daily movements can be fairly limited for many bucks.

According to research by Dr. Aaron Foley and his co-researchers at the Caesar Kleberg Wildlife Research Institute at Texas A&M University-Kingsville, bucks did not wander widely afield during the peak rut. While their daily movement rates increased compared to other times, they still only used about 30% of their annual home range.

These bucks maintained two or more focal points of about 60 to 140 acres each within their home ranges, and they visited these focal areas frequently, about every 20 to 28 hours. These are no doubt areas within a buck’s existing home range where encounters with a doe are more likely – but these are does that already live close to the buck’s home. Since there are already does in the area, a buck has no need to travel long distances to breed.

What About Excursions? 

Yes, bucks are known to make long-distance excursions outside their home ranges during the rut. These usually last a day or so, then the buck returns to his familiar home range. We don’t fully understand the purpose of these trips and whether they are related to food, hunting pressure or breeding opportunities, but these exploratory movements are not permanent. Bucks don’t venture out and then remain in strange areas.

Put simply, deer movement studies have provided no evidence that bucks can detect greater concentrations of does at long distances – or any other resource – and then shift permanently to a new area as a result.”

The full article can be found here.

Photo Credit: Original Author

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