It has long been the accepted creed of hunters that breaking dawn on the first day of rifle season sends every big buck underground. Like vampires, they only prowl the woods after dark. They supposedly “go nocturnal.”
But it seems someone has neglected to inform these bucks they become akin to the undead during the rifle season. Of the bucks we tracked during the 2013 rifle season, none of them went scurrying for cover when the sun rose. Every buck moved during the shooting hours. Take a look at a few of the buck wanderings from last year’s rifle season:
Buck #1 – The Timid Explorer: From sunrise to noon on opening day, our Timid Explore held tight biding his time. But that afternoon he made his move traveling more than 3 miles through an area where we had no record of him ever being since his capture in February. During his travels he crossed 2 township roads, followed some fence rows, and considered crossing another road, but thought better of it and turned back. By sunset, he had returned home near where he started in the morning. See his movements for yourself in the movie below.
Buck #2 – King of the Mountain: His Majesty spent opening day, the second day, and the first Saturday in a 20 acre area on a mountain top 900 yards and 900 feet above the nearest road. However, on the last Saturday, he spent his morning in one general location– his usual behavior – then decided to go for a walk surveying this kingdom in the afternoon. From 11:40AM to 5:20PM, he traveled a loop of 1.75 miles. At one point, he was within 50 yards of a road. It’s good to be King.
Buck #3 – The High Roller: Hunting season is a high stakes game. This High Roller wasn’t afraid to bet his life. He lived (and survived) dangerously. On opening day and the 2 Saturdays, he threw caution to the wind and made long distance movements. Opening day found this buck atop the highest point in his home range. Around 9-ish, he went for a short stroll until noon. Then he made his move. From noon to 3:20PM, he traveled 1.5 miles down off the mountain heading towards the valley 1,100 feet below. He made similar afternoon movements on both Saturdays. His bet always paid off.
As you can see, vampires and PA bucks don’t have much in common. Follow the lead of these bucks. Pack a lunch, revel in the warm afternoon sun, and keep your eyes peeled for the Timid Explorer, the King, or that reckless High Roller!
-Chris Rosenberry, Supervisor
PGC Deer and Elk Section
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