In addition to being worn out and hungry, a whitetail has another thing that keeps him from moving about when the post-rut arrives: the constant presence of man. The hunting pressure incurred during September, October and November causes many bucks to become nocturnal.
By Charles J. Alsheimer, Deer & Deer Hunting contributor
In the July 14 “Whitetail Behavior” blog, we learned that post-rut whitetail bucks are more interested in food and survival than breeding. But before we delve into the role food plays in determining a late-season hunting strategy, we must address man’s effect on post-rut deer activity.
When formulating a hunting strategy for nocturnal post-rut bucks, it’s important to understand that all whitetail bucks are not the same. They fall into two categories: yearling and adults. This is especially evident in areas where hunting pressure is heavy.
Yearling bucks are much easier to hunt, and it takes a lot of pressure for them to become truly nocturnal. The sex urge in November’s prime breeding season overwhelms most yearling bucks, keeping them constantly on the move. This makes yearlings huntable even in the post-rut. However, if a buck is lucky enough to survive his yearling season, he becomes a different animal as he matures. These bucks really go underground, especially when they reach 3 years old.
Contrary to popular belief among hunters, bucks do not move out of the country when hunting pressure increases. The only exception to this is in remote regions where deer gravitate to yarding areas. Telemetry studies conducted throughout North America indicate that whitetails do not abandon their core ranges during the post-rut. Bucks simply hunker down, find the thickest cover near food sources and limit their movements to nighttime and certain times of day.
Next week: Post-rut hunting tactics revealed! It’s all about food!
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