We have shown a lot of movies of deer movements. Our most famous deer died outside his home range at a place he only visited once in the prior two years we followed him. Then we have locations of bucks who completely shift their home range during the rut.

This fall we thought we’d do something a little different. We have accumulated data on 7 bucks that we have monitored for 2 or 3 years.

We will show you the movements of the same deer, on the same day, on the same hour, in two different years. At the same time!

In this post we visit Buck 16159. He was captured in winter 2018 when he was at least 2 years old. We followed him through the 2018 deer season and most of 2019. He was legally harvested during the 2019 rifle season when he was at least 3.5 years old.

We don’t know the answer to these questions but maybe you’d like to ponder them while you watch this deer’s movements for the months of September, October, and November – before, during, and through the tail end of the rut.

Does he start his range expansion during the rut at the same time each year? Does he use the same places to rest? Do his 2018 locations predict where you’ll find him in 2019?

Enjoy the show!

Below are his movements in October.

And finally we have his movements in November

When I watched these movies, at times Buck 16159 appeared to move in the same direction on the same date in different years! Was it my brain trying to identify a pattern in the chaos? Or did that buck really remember when and where he moved the previous year.

To answer that question, I calculated the standard deviation of the distance between each pair of locations and compared that to the standard deviation of the average distance between a random ordering of locations. I repeated this 1,000 times.

I had to conclude my brain was trying to discern a pattern from chaos.

Duane Diefenbach

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