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Early Bird Gets the Buck. Or Maybe Not?

Posted: November 4, 2014

Does deer hunting require getting up at o'dark-thirty to meet that buck you've been dreaming about? Or are you smart to stay in bed?

Hunting means getting up at o’dark-thirty, slogging though the woods in the dark hoping you remember where that half rotten log is, setting up just in time to barely catch a large deer-shaped shadow creep out of sight, and hoping that today you are either lucky or smart. 

Whether you kill a deer or not, this IS hunting.  But is this race with dawn really necessary to meet that buck you’ve been dreaming about since last hunting season? 

Granted you are rewarded with the stillness of a sunrise over the nearby mountain and you are there as the woods come to life - something few people nowadays experience. 

But your bed was so warm, that rotten log nearly killed you, and that squirrel is not appreciating the company.  Are you really being smart?  As you wonder if it’s cold enough for frostbite, being lucky seems to be the better of the two by a long shot.

But what if you can be smart and lucky and stay in bed?  Impossible for a hunter you say?  …well, maybe not. 

Bow hunters take notice!  If getting a buck in early November is on your list, hit the snooze button a few times.  Based on bucks wearing GPS radio collars during the 2013 rut, buck movements declined through the early morning. From 8AM to 11AM, bucks moved the least during that period of the day. But you better be in the woods and ready by 11:00 as  buck movements increased to some of their highest levels from 11AM to 2PM. 

The figure above shows movements of bucks wearing GPS radio-collars from November 1st to 10th (early November) and November 11th to 20th (mid-November). The distances bucks moved are in 3-hour periods. Peak buck movements were from 2 to 5AM and from 11AM to 2PM. 

So for this year's season, be smart and you could get lucky. You don’t have to be an early bird to bag that buck. Pack a lunch and keep an eye out for those bucks that are cruising the woods at mid-day and early afternoon.

You may have the best lunch date ever. 

-Christopher Rosenberry
PGC Deer and Elk Section Supervisor

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