buck walking in woods at night in fall

Whether you are driving ,hunting, or just deer watching, changes in deer behavior are making people’s lives more exciting every day.

Our crew leader shared these photos from our northern study areas. They can be caught on camera both night and day this time of year.

About half of all females are bred by November 13th every year, although fawns average about 2 weeks later. The earliest bred does occur in mid-October and most adult females are pregnant by Thanksgiving.

Earlier this summer we wrote about home range size where I used an index to assess differences. I’m going to use that same index here.

During the rut, males will expand their home range 2-4 times in size. You can see that in the graph below. Compared to September, average home range size has already more than doubled before the end of October. And it looks like it will continue to increase!

The blue line is the smoothed average of all deer. The black lines track weekly averages for September and October of individual deer.

Male movements also show larger average movements over this same time period. However, keep in mind, bucks don’t necessarily travel much faster but travel more hours of the day. As a result, their average speed has about doubled.

All this means more vehicle collisions. As home ranges expand, males cross more roads. Also, yearling males that didn’t disperse in the spring are dispersing now.

The rut also means more, different bucks on your game cameras. That buck you’ve never seen before? You’re seeing him because his home range expanded.

What about that buck you’ve been watching all summer? You will see less of him now because his home range is already, or will soon be, 2–4 times bigger.

All this excitement with changes in male behavior make females seem pretty boring. But there’s needs to be a Yin to their Yang.

It will be fun to keep tabs on the changes coming over the next 2–3 weeks. We kind of know what will happen because it happens every year. But it’s a book we can’t put down!

-Duane Diefenbach

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