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We Spied on Him for 3 Years

Posted: December 19, 2017

Here’s what we learned about Buck 8393
https://pixabay.com - CCO

https://pixabay.com - CCO

It was February 25, 2015 when we captured him in a Clover trap in Treaster Valley on the Bald Eagle State Forest. He was an “adult” meaning he had already survived at least 2 hunting seasons and would be at least 2.5 years old during the upcoming 2015-2016 deer seasons.

That’s the last we ever saw of him for nearly 3 years. But we were still able to follow his every move. We ended up spying on him in 2015, 2016, and 2017.

He was fitted with a GPS collar that we hoped would collect a location every 7 hours until the opening of archery season when a location was collected every 3 hours. If he survived archery season we would collect a location every 20 minutes during the rifle season. If he survived the rifle season the spying started all over again.

During 2015 we obtained 2,105 locations on Buck 8393. And it turns out, we captured him far outside his normal home range.

The red dot (western side of image, just north of Treaster Valley Rd) was the capture location. The yellow dot to the east was the first location we obtained from the collar (yellow = daytime, black = night time).

Movements immediately after capture (location marked by red dot) from 25 Feb through 11 March.

He appeared to make a beeline back to what was the northern edge of his home range. I think I’d run home too after being captured in a trap, tackled, and fitted with a radiocollar – although first I’d have to figure out how to explain to my wife why I had tags in my ears and a collar hanging around my neck!

Springtime Moves

In April he made a foray to the west. For 7 days (April 6-12, 2015) he traveled over the ridge to Havice Valley and returned, but never traveled that way again.

Summertime

By summer 2015, he settled down and spent most of his time in Treaster Valley, including a lot of time on the south-facing ridgetop between Treaster Valley and New Lancaster Valley. At the southern edge of his home range it is very steep – for every 2.5 feet you travel horizontally you go up or down a foot in elevation. Foresters call that a 40% slope.

The Rut

During the period when most breeding occurs (10/23 – 11/23), you can see that his home range expanded south of New Lancaster Valley Rd.

Rifle Season 2015

Buck 8393 survived his 3rd rifle season as well. As you look at where he spends his daytime hours you should notice several things:

  • During daytime hours he doesn’t move a lot (clusters of yellow dots)
  • His hiding spots during the day tend to be on steep topographic features
  • Some hiding spots are right next to the road!

Notice where I placed a circle in red. There are two locations just south of Knob Ridge Rd where he beds down on a very steep part of the ridge. The slope is about 50% (for every 2 feet you travel horizontal you go up 1 foot in elevation).

Another favorite hiding spot is just to the north on the highest part of the ridge. Even at the southern edge of his movements (where he traveled during the rut just a week or so before), he selected a resting spot near a ridge feature.

This buck is a little different from other bucks that we have shared on the blog. Most deer have a single hiding spot during the rifle season. This guy appears to have multiple hiding spots!

Here’s what all 2,105 locations from 2015 look like. Notice how ridges tend to be favored resting spots.

Year Two

His movements in 2016 were similar. No long-distance trips outside the home range but otherwise basically the same boundaries as 2015.

Rut 2016

His movements during the rut and the rifle season were similar. Unfortunately, during the rifle season the collar did not receive the commands from the satellite to collect intensive locations. However, here is a movie of his movements during the rut – notice how he does not really start making movements that traverse his home range until about November 8.

 

Year Three

Not much has changed. Basically the 2017 home range is the same home range as 2016. Unfortunately, the collar stopped collecting locations on November 2, 2017 - just before the rut kicked into high gear. But there is more to his story.

On December 2, 2017 (first Saturday of the rifle deer season), Buck 8393 was harvested on the southern end of his home range near New Lancaster Valley Rd. He apparently was a very nice 10-point buck at least 4.5 years old!

collar and harvested deer antlers

-Duane Diefenbach

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