The clock is always ticking on early season bachelor buck groups.
QUESTION: I’ve been watching a small group of velvet bucks visit the same field almost every evening. Our bow season is still a month away. Will these bucks still be here when the season opens? There’s a couple good ones, and I’d like to get a crack at one. — Ron Z.
ANSWER: As you’re probably aware, bucks form loose aggregations in the summer known as bachelor groups or bachelor herds. Each deer has its own home range and core area, and these areas sometimes overlap. Where they do, you’ll find bachelor groups.
How long they remain together and in the same area depends on several things. If there’s a concentrated food source, like an agricultural field or heavy mast crop, they might congregate there for a longer period. I’ve observed bachelor groups remaining in roughly the same area into early October. However, those associations slowly break down as the days grow shorter, testosterone levels increase and bucks become less tolerant of one another.
They also might drift apart as food availability changes when crops are harvested or early mast sources become depleted. Increased human presence from scouting and the opening of various hunting seasons also cause deer to change behavior.
My advice is to be as unobtrusive as possible when scouting and setting stands. Then, get in to hunt as soon as possible. The odds of those bucks remaining together and on a predictable pattern decrease with each passing day. — Recent Ask the Biologist Question:
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