The more you know, the better you can hunt (but then, some of these are just interesting).
For 35 years, the Southeast Deer Study Group has been gathering to share the results of some of their research. Researchers come from across North America to speak of their findings. In 35 years, that’s a lot of information to process, so here’s the cool stuff.
1. The average fall home range of a mature buck: 907 acres
The University of Georgia used GPS collars to track bucks in Pennsylvania. Turns out bucks will wonder an area of 907 acres. However, good news is, a mature buck will spend at least half its time in a core area of 142 acres.
2. A buck is at its peak when it’s 4 1/2
According to an Auburn University study, this was age at which whitetails have the largest skeletal dimensions. The thing about this study is that the researchers were taking measurements to see if size or age played into successful breeding. The answer is no, neither matters in successful fawn production.
3. On average, a buck will travel 55 yards further from your hunting site
DAMMIT! I can’t be the only one that thought that, right? This is another Auburn University study that studied how much further a deer will travel from your stand from the beginning to end of the season.
4. Buck take 11-day excursions
According to a University of Georgia study on collared bucks, almost half of the bucks went out on an excursion. the longest last of which lasted 11 days. (An “excursion” refers to a time when a buck leaves its home range during spring).
5. You’re wasting money fertilizing white oaks
$180 an acre, in fact, at least on average. This is from a University of Tennessee study that even used soil studies to verify the fertilizer was right. The goal was to see if you could boost acorn production compared to non-fertilized trees. So, the fertilizer doesn’t work, but thinning them out can work quite well.
6. There are a lot of coyotes
A Virginia State University study performed tests on thousands of scat to look for DNA markers. From those tests, 84% have been identified and only appeared once. This demonstrates that coyote populations roam a lot.
7. Calm deer eat more (duh?)
The University of Georgia tested two 100-acre coyote-free enclosures, where the fences allowed the deer to come and go but were too tall for coyotes. The result was a 14% increase in bait consumption when compared to outside enclosures.
8. It costs a lot to improve a your deer herd
A Mississippi State University study used a computer simulation to demonstrate what would happen if pen raised bucks to better the genetics of free range bucks. Meaning the release of pen raised animals into the free range stock. The result was it would cost $115,000 to produce an 1 inch increase in B&C scores. I’m not an accountant but that doesn’t seem cost effective.
9. More cover means more beds
A Texas A&M study using fawns shows they seek the maximum possible cover for a bedding site. On average, bedding sites had 81% hiding cover, whereas other sites had only 65%. This shows deer actively seek heavier cover. Of course, if my main defense mechanism was hiding, I would want as much cover as possible, too.
10. Button bucks get in on the action
In a six-year study Auburn University, researchers found that bucks under the age of 1 manage to father fawns. There is a low rate, but some still get the task accomplished.