Ninety-nine percent of bucks have a home range of a mile or so where they spend 95% of their time year-round. The boys venture out of their core areas once in a while, especially during the November rut, when they often leave for days or weeks on doe excursions. But they eventually come back home where they feel safe and comfortable.
Of course there is the rogue buck.
Researchers with Pennsylvania’s Deer-Forest Study monitored GPS-collared Buck 12783, which had 2 distinct home ranges.
Source:Penn State College Agricultural Sciences
In the image above, his main home range is the eastern (right side) mass of blue. To the west is a “vacation home” that he used for 2 years.
The researchers believe that in June 2014, the buck took off on a 1.5-mile trek and found the western core range, which for whatever reason looked and felt good to him. He went back home (“to think about it” say the researchers) for a while. Then on October 22, he traveled back west to core area #2, where he stayed put for more than 3 months.
On February 1, 2015, Buck 12783 left his temporary pad and returned to his main home back east. In March he ventured back over to area #2 and looked around, but decided to go back home for the summer. The buck then returned to his vacation home on November 3, where he stayed until the first of December.
Throughout summer and fall 2016, Buck 12783 (now 4 years old) stayed home, perhaps for good. “I think he’s getting older and maybe outgrown the follies of his youth,” say the researchers.
How unusual was this buck’s behavior? Very. “It’s the only time we have ever seen a buck exhibit (more than one) home range,” the researchers said. “Typically bucks have a core home range that simply expands during the rut. Add Buck 12783 to the list of 1 Percenters– those rare adult deer that exhibit 2 distinct home range areas.
My theory: Had Buck 12783 figured out that core range #2 was a better place to find does to breed? The first year he moved over there on October 22 and the second year on November 3, just before most does would come into estrus. Did he find #2 a better sanctuary for eluding Pennsylvania’s army of hunters? Was is it a combination of doe availability and hiding? I think that’s quite possible.
We can never learn too much about the fascinating whitetail.