It’s the rut and love is in the air.

We’ve written about amorous deer many times. It’s a very popular topic.

We’ve focused on movements and distance traveled (or not traveled) by bucks and doesweather and weather eventscelestial body phases, and the like.

What we haven’t really talked about is speed. We all know bucks chase does but what does that really look like? We mentioned it in our last post about our favorite bachelor but let’s take a look at some of our other bucks.

Take Buck 12776 as an example. Over the course of almost a month (27 Oct – 23 Nov), he traveled over 93 miles, not including 9 miles in elevation!

Here’s a frequency chart of his speed over all the 1-hour intervals during that month
Deer-Forest Study
He’s not a real speedster. Half the time he traveled less than 0.06 miles per hour!

I can easily walk 4 mph down the sidewalk [that’s because Duane has long legs! –Jeannine]. And according to my hiking app, I regularly do 2-3 mph on a hiking trail (in August heat), and 1 mph in thick grouse coverts.

Buck 12776 never exceeded 0.8 mph. But when you’re on the road 24/7, you don’t have to.

If we look at the average hourly speed of Buck 12776 from November 3rd through November 12th – the two weeks leading up to when half the does are bred – there are no morning and evening bursts of activity.
Deer-Forest Study
It’s clear he puts in more effort from 5pm – 11pm but there is no daytime and midnight lull. If he ever took a rest it seemed to be at 4am.

If you’re plugging along at 0.06 mph for 24 hours, you’re going to cover 1.4 miles. Put in a “burst” of 0.3 mph for 4 hours and you can double that distance without breaking a sweat.

Despite the tremendous drain on energy reserves that occurs this time of year, these bucks are not setting any land speed records. Instead, they are pacing themselves.

By moving relatively slowly, but nearly all the time, they can maximize their opportunities to breed females.

And Buck 12776 isn’t an anomaly. Here are graphs of speeds traveled by some of our other collared bucks.
Deer-Forest Study

Deer-Forest Study

Deer-Forest Study

Deer-Forest Study

Deer-Forest Study

Very rarely do they exceed 0.5 mph – even more rarely do they exceed 1 mph.

These bucks seem more like the tortoise than the hare. And we all know who won that race.

-Duane Diefenbach

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