American Hunter - November 2016 - 31


Your Rut Stand
Hunt Rut Funnels During the rut, mature bucks often go on
what wildlife biologists call "excursions." These are short walkabouts of typically less than 24 hours when bucks leave their
usual range in search of estrous does. Brian Murphy, CEO of the
Quality Deer Management Association, says, "Two recent studies, where researchers were following collared bucks, showed
this tendency. A study of 15 collared bucks in Georgia found
that 58 percent of them did this during the rut; another of 16
collared bucks in Texas found that all the bucks went on excursions. Some of these bucks went 6, 8 or even more miles in a
24-hour period as they roamed looking for does."
This makes even old, savvy bucks particularly vulnerable
during the search phases of the rut-before peak breeding when
only a few does are in estrus and after the peak when only a few
does are still in heat. Mature bucks in areas without that many
other older bucks tend to be mostly hunkered down attending
to does during the rut's peak-breeding. At those times when
they are searching, mature bucks can be had in daylight.
University of Tennessee whitetail researcher Seth Basinger
recorded the first wild hookup between a collared buck and collared doe on the 39,000-acre Arnold Air Force Base on Nov. 19,
2010. The buck and doe stayed together for just 12 hours. Both deer
actually left their normal home ranges to breed. GPS data showed
the buck left its typical range and found the doe at 9 a.m. They
stayed in cover and bred all day. But by 9 p.m. that evening, the
buck was cruising far away on the other side of woodlots and fields.
The best stand at these times is in a rut funnel, a place
between bedding areas. Often these places are power-line
rights of way, riparian areas, strips of cover between woodlots or drainages that connect larger wooded areas in suburbia.
These can be easy to spot on maps and aerial photos. Rut funnels might not have a lot of deer sign in them during most of the
year, but during the search phases bucks use them frequently.
Focus on His Range As bucks get older, their home ranges
and core areas (the acres within their home range where they
spend most daylight hours) tend to shrink. A recent study done
by Mickey W. Hellickson in Texas found that home ranges of
bucks shrank from 2,278 acres at 2.5 years old to 1,055 acres
at 7.5. Also, the bucks' core areas fell from 356 acres to 151 for
these same age classes. A buck's range varies in size, however,
the fact that a buck's core area shrinks is important to know.
By maturity, a buck has found where he is safe in daylight and

tends to stay there unless he is pushed out by hunters or pulled
out by his drive to breed.
"If you're outside a buck's core by even a little bit you're not
likely to see that buck," Murphy says.
Many GPS-collar studies have also shown that bucks don't
have ranges shaped like you might expect. Some even have
dumbbell-shaped ranges: They use two separate pieces of habitat linked together by a funnel.
A buck study on public land in Pennsylvania even found
that a particular buck shifted, week by week, during November
from one side of his range to another. During the first week of
November, he was roving mostly on one side of his mountainous range, but during much of the second week this collared
8-pointer was almost exclusively holed up in a drainage breeding does. Then, in the third and fourth weeks of November, the
buck shifted to the other side of his range. This shows that a
hunter needs to be patient and that it can be helpful to have
more than one stand in a buck's range.
Consider Pressure All of this, of course, is influenced by not
just the rut, but also hunting pressure. A hunting-pressure study
done in south-central Oklahoma on a 4,600-acre area found that
when there was one hunter per 250 acres on a 1,500-acre parcel,
buck movement in daylight wasn't affected very much. However,
on another conjoining 1,500-acre study section that had one hunter
per 75 acres, most of the bucks stopped moving in daylight.
While you can't control pressure from other hunters on
public land or in areas where numerous landowners have small
properties, such studies suggest you should be careful about your
own impact. Auburn University researcher Clint McCoy compared where bucks walked in relation to known stand locations,
and he found that they moved, on average, 55 yards farther from
the known stands when he compared the beginning of hunting
season to the end. Part of choosing and hunting a stand, even in
the rut, is making sure a buck doesn't know you're there.
Murphy says, "A lot of GPS-collar studies of mature whitetails show that when the gun season starts, big bucks quickly
figure this out and stop using open areas. As hunters we know
this, but it is interesting to see it happen with collared-buck
studies, because when you plot the GPS coordinates you can see
the bucks move over an aerial photo like a Green Beret evading
enemy detection. They still want to move and breed, but they
reduce daylight activity and use cover expertly." ah

AN APP FOR THE RUT

The Quality Deer Management Association and Powderhook teamed up to develop a free app that can tell you when the rut is
on in your neighborhood. Called "Deer Tracker," it uses real-time data from hunter reports to show on a map where deer activity
is red-hot. The interface looks like a weather map showing hot and cold air. Don't worry about giving your secret spot away: The app
makes it impossible to pinpoint the exact location of a single report (deertrackerapp.com, available via the App Store and Google Play).
americanhunter.org ❘

31 ❘ november 2016


http://www.deertrackerapp.com http://www.americanhunter.org

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of American Hunter - November 2016

Contents
American Hunter - November 2016 - CW1
American Hunter - November 2016 - CW2
American Hunter - November 2016 - Cover1
American Hunter - November 2016 - CW3
American Hunter - November 2016 - CW4
American Hunter - November 2016 - C2
American Hunter - November 2016 - 1
American Hunter - November 2016 - Contents
American Hunter - November 2016 - 3
American Hunter - November 2016 - 4
American Hunter - November 2016 - 5
American Hunter - November 2016 - 6
American Hunter - November 2016 - 7
American Hunter - November 2016 - 8
American Hunter - November 2016 - 9
American Hunter - November 2016 - 10
American Hunter - November 2016 - 11
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American Hunter - November 2016 - 15
American Hunter - November 2016 - 16
American Hunter - November 2016 - 17
American Hunter - November 2016 - 18
American Hunter - November 2016 - 19
American Hunter - November 2016 - 20
American Hunter - November 2016 - 21
American Hunter - November 2016 - 22
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American Hunter - November 2016 - 24
American Hunter - November 2016 - 25
American Hunter - November 2016 - 26
American Hunter - November 2016 - 27
American Hunter - November 2016 - 28
American Hunter - November 2016 - 29
American Hunter - November 2016 - 30
American Hunter - November 2016 - 31
American Hunter - November 2016 - 32
American Hunter - November 2016 - 33
American Hunter - November 2016 - 34
American Hunter - November 2016 - 35
American Hunter - November 2016 - 36
American Hunter - November 2016 - 37
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American Hunter - November 2016 - 100
American Hunter - November 2016 - 101
American Hunter - November 2016 - C102
American Hunter - November 2016 - C103
American Hunter - November 2016 - E102
American Hunter - November 2016 - E103
American Hunter - November 2016 - MW102
American Hunter - November 2016 - MW103
American Hunter - November 2016 - S102
American Hunter - November 2016 - S103
American Hunter - November 2016 - SW102
American Hunter - November 2016 - SW103
American Hunter - November 2016 - W102
American Hunter - November 2016 - W103
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American Hunter - November 2016 - C3
American Hunter - November 2016 - C4
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