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Can You Pattern a Buck? Use Your Big Buck Mojo!

Posted: October 10, 2014

You've been studying your trail camera pictures all summer but the activity has really ramped up in the last month. There are the usual assortment of yearlings with their telltale spikes and forks. Three of them are 5- and 6-pointers. And then there’s that 8-pointer. You haven't seen a nicer buck and he's been flirting with your camera all summer.

You've been studying your trail camera pictures all summer but the activity has really ramped up in the last month. There are the usual assortment of yearlings with their telltale spikes and forks. Three of them are 5- and 6-pointers. And then there’s that 8-pointer. You haven't seen a nicer buck and he's been flirting with your camera all summer. 

You should be able to pattern this buck, right? That is, if you listen to what all those magazines and TV shows say.

There are endless articles about pre-rut, rut and post-rut behavior. TV shows instructing you on where bucks go and when – based on weather, temperature and moon phase. With all the information out there and modern game cameras, it should be easy to pattern a big buck, shouldn't it?

Most of us have a couple of game cameras – and a few of us might even have a dozen or more cameras that take hundreds of photos weekly (don’t tell our spouses). But is it enough to pattern a buck's movements?

What if you could see where that deer was every five hours? That would be five locations every 24 hours, seven days a week. Surely that would be enough information to arrange a meeting place.

You're in luck! The Deer-Forest Study has fitted adult deer with GPS collars that transmit their location via satellite in almost real time. And by adult, I mean at least 2.5 years old during the hunting season. So, all the bucks more than meet the antler restriction regulations in Pennsylvania.

So can we predict where these bucks go?

Meet Deer 8159

Adult male 8159 was captured and radio-collared on March 16, 2013. At that time he was almost two years old. He has been lucky and smart enough to survive two hunting seasons, and we can map his every move. He can teach us a lot.

Take a look at his travels for the month of September in the video. Green dates/times are legal hunting hours and red is after hours. Is there a pattern to his movements? When and where are you likely to find him most often?

Be sure to check back, because over the next few weeks we will post movements of several bucks like 8159 and see if they there is a pattern to their movements in September. Then we'll see what they did in October.

Are all those TV shows and deer articles right? Can you pattern a buck? We'll let you decide!

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Contact Information

Duane Diefenbach, Ph.D.
  • Adjunct Professor of Wildlife Ecology
Email:
Phone: 814-865-3992
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