It’s as you might have anticipated— the red deer change behavior when the hunting season begins.
Red deer hunting changes how these animals move and behave in their, otherwise uninterrupted, natural environment.
Not many studies on red deer have been able to illustrate their responses of this basic survival behavior, resulting from the presence of hunters.
It’s believed however, many red deer retreat into dense forests for better cover, reducing the chance of being spotted and ultimately killed. This, however, can result in less chances for foraging.
The Centre for Ecological and Evolutionary Synthesis investigated a habitat with 40 GPS-marked European red deer through the hunting season. They found that all males used a particular habitat in the days before the hunting season and the onset of hunting caused a sudden change. The red deer moved to an area with more cover, increasing their chance for survival. However less females changed their patterns, suggesting they were already under sufficient cover.
The CEES suggests that predictable hunting patterns resulting in high harvest rates could create a strong selective pressure for red deer to respond quickly to the changes brought on by hunting seasons.