Since we began getting data from GPS collars, there are two things we have learned about deer movements during the rifle season that have amazed me. First, deer respond to hunting pressure the day before the season opens (and not before). Second, their ability to hide somewhere in their home range during hunting hours is amazing.

These two behaviors are exemplified in female 8921 – we call her Hillside Doe because (drum roll….) her home range is on the side of a hill!

So let’s see what she does during bear season in 2013. First, it can be either middle of the day or middle of the night and she is usually found close to the road. In fact, most of her time is spent within a few hundred yards of the road. 

Second, whatever activity that occurred during bear season, or Thanksgiving, or the Saturday before rifle season had little effect on her movements. At least as far as I can tell.

But watch what happens beginning the Sunday before the Monday opener! You’d think someone must have texted her a message deer season was about to get started!

Hillside Doe has a go-to spot – one of the steepest areas on the side of her hill. I marked this area with a light blue circle.

Watch the video and just imagine…

It’s Sunday before the opener. Many hunters are scouting out their hunting spot. Hillside Doe does the same and checks out her go-to spot at 5 in the morning. Her safe place, so to speak.

By lunchtime it doesn’t appear any hunter has found her safe place so she heads back down to the road. Maybe she’s checking out the competition?!

Now it’s midnight on opening day. She’s right next to the road intersection. By 3am she’s once again in her safe place!

By 7am most hunters have settled into their spot for the morning stand. Hillside Doe is already in her safe place and she stays there until lunch. By dusk she’s back down at the road intersection. 

Watch her repeat this pattern Tuesday-Friday. She doesn’t always go back to the exact same spot, but pretty close.

But the first Saturday is different! By 7am she’s in her safe place and she does not leave that area for over 24 hours. Not until Sunday afternoon does she venture back down to the road!

Come Monday morning, however, it’s back to the same routine. Head to her safe place (or nearby) for the morning and then in the afternoon head back down towards the road. And wander among the camps all night long!

And that’s the rest of her rifle season. Except maybe a deer drive went through on the second Thursday (December 12)? Watch her very different behavior on that day starting about 8:30am!

Despite all the excitement, she survived deer season. I think you’ll agree, this doe knows deer hunters!

 -Duane Diefenbach

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