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#2950569 - 09/20/12 03:31 PM BSK - Habitat Question
Southern Sportsman
8 Point

Registered: 09/18/11
Posts: 1129
Loc: West TN

In a recent post, you said that your property has become such a doe and yearling mecca during the summer that it drives the bucks out of the area during that time. Can you explain that for me?

The area I primarily hunt (around 300 acres) is about half 20 year old CRP and the other half is mixed timber and fields (10 acres of the fields are planted in Corn for ducks when we flood it later in winter, about 5 acres of clover, and 2 or 3 acres of wildlife mix (from the TWRA) and beans. It's bordered on one side by 500 acres of really good timber, on one side by a river, and the other sides by row crop. During the summer, we see tons of does and yearlings but get very few pictures of mature bucks (although we get several yearling bucks), about late October we start seeing several mature bucks and usually manage to kill one or two during the rut.

I did not know that does and yearlings would drive bucks out of an area during the summer, but if so would this explain our lack of mature buck sightings prior to season?


#2950873 - 09/20/12 09:03 PM Re: BSK - Habitat Question [Re: Southern Sportsman]
Boone 58
16 Point

Registered: 06/23/04
Posts: 15185
Loc: Food Plot

The problem in America is not that ungodly people have said yes to ungodly things, but rather that Godly people have refused to say "no" to ungodly things.

#2951376 - 09/21/12 08:38 AM Re: BSK - Habitat Question [Re: Boone 58]
Jerkasourous of the non-typical kind

Registered: 03/11/99
Posts: 65979
Loc: Nashville, TN

Southern Sportsman,

Deer are not "territorial" animals during most of the year. Even bucks are not territorial during the rut. Often, I hear hunters talk about rubs and scrapes as "territorial markers." This is not correct. Rubs and scrapes are communal "scent markers," and are a means by which deer share social information. Many, many bucks can all inhabit the same territory, as long as every buck knows his place in the social pecking order. Bucks, even during the rut, are not territorial, but they do have a social hierachy; i.e. a social "pecking order." Buck fights are not over territory, they are over status on the pecking order.

Although deer are not by definition territorial, there is one particular time and sex of deer that will display territorial behavior, and that time/sex is does rearing fawns. Just before a doe gives birth, she will find and establish a fawning territory. Fawning territories are usually in the range of 5 to 25 acres in size. Where that territory is is based on that particular doe's social status. The most dominant doe chooses her fawning territory first (actually aggressively forces less dominant does out of her chosen fawning territory). Fawning territory "choice" then moves down the social ladder until the least dominant does "choose" their area last. The dominant doe will choose as her fawning territory the best combination of high-quality food and cover within that doe social group's normal range. As "choice" of fawning territory moves down the social ladder, the best fawning territories are less and less likely to be inside that social groups normal range. The lowest does on the social ladder may actually have to leave their normal range and travel miles to find an unoccupied area for a fawning area, and this will often be the worst combination of food and cover. And this is why there is a surge of deer-car collisions in spring, which almost always involve does. Subordinate does are having to travel great distances into unfamiliar territory to find unoccupied areas. This is also the advantage of social status in the female sex--the most dominant get the best areas in familiar territory, hence their offspring have the best chance of survival.

Does will maintain thier fawning territory from just before giving birth until the fawn is approximately 6 weeks old (weaned). They will aggressively defend this territory from all other deer (male and female) as well as from predators. I've even seen does defend their fawning territory against humans and dogs, aggressively charging the intruder. This is also what can happen when a property has been intensively managed to produce far more food and cover than surrounding properties have. The "managed" property is taken over by territorial does raising their fawns, forcing all other deer (bucks and does that are not rearing fawns) out of this "better" habitat and onto the poorer habitat of surrounding areas. From a "survival of the species" perspective, males are expendable. The females and the young they are rearing are the most important members of the species (ensure survival of the species as a whole), hence they get the best resources.

Once a does fawn is weened, and about the time buck bachelor groups break up in late August and early September, does will leave their fawning territory and return to their normal range and rejoin their original social group, with new fawn(s) in tow.

But again, this entire process of fawn-rearing does becoming temporarily territorial, and taking over the best habitat, can lead to pockets of does and fawns dominating the best habitat, and older bucks in bachelor groups being forced towards the poorest habitat. I have seen this occur on numerous occassions. A landowner greatly improving the habitat of his/her property while neighbors' properties remain unmanaged. The intensively managed property then becomes a "doe sink" in summer, which forces all the older bucks off the managed property temporarily. Although once does stop being territorial, bucks filter back into the managed property.
"Know where you stand, and stand there" --Jesuit Father Daniel Berrigan

"There is no reasoning someone out of a position he has not reasoned himself into." --Clive James

#2951561 - 09/21/12 10:37 AM Re: BSK - Habitat Question [Re: BSK]
Southern Sportsman
8 Point

Registered: 09/18/11
Posts: 1129
Loc: West TN

Wow. I never knew any of that, but I guess it explains why we see the same does and yearlings through the summer in the same areas and don't see many bucks until fall. Thank you very much for the answer.
#2952235 - 09/21/12 10:53 PM Re: BSK - Habitat Question [Re: Southern Sportsman]
4 Point

Registered: 08/29/09
Posts: 417
Loc: College Grove TN

Amazing answer thanks
#2953292 - 09/22/12 08:54 PM Re: BSK - Habitat Question [Re: bass56]
Drop 4/5
6 Point

Registered: 06/23/09
Posts: 670
Loc: Morgan Co.

Great info, Thanks
"Common Sense" it's not so common anymore
Kiss em, Hug em, Tell em you love em!

#2954258 - 09/23/12 06:52 PM Re: BSK - Habitat Question [Re: Drop 4/5]
Rick Dillard
4 Point

Registered: 03/02/05
Posts: 180
Loc: Gluckstadt, MS

Great info BSK!
#2954508 - 09/23/12 09:10 PM Re: BSK - Habitat Question [Re: Rick Dillard]
6 Point

Registered: 12/26/07
Posts: 863
Loc: Savannah, TN

Great info!
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