Editors Blog

Of Big Bucks & Public Hunting Land

Big buck in velvet
photo courtesy of Scott Bestul

In today’s mailbag, Jesse Lane writes:

"I have a public hunting land question. I was out last night watching the fields and had a HUGE whitetail buck come out. There usually isn’t too much pressure there for archery season which starts Oct 1st but my question is how far could this deer travel till the season starts or into the season. I would love to get a shot at his when the season starts."

Deer & Deer Hunting Editor Dan Schmidt responds:

Well, it sounds like you have a great buck to hunt this fall, Jesse. He could be around, but he also could move quite a distance. The biggest deer are still in their summer core pattern right now, which means they will be in a corner of their square mile range. But public land is different … that range could be much larger. Rule of thumb, however, is that they won’t move too far out of that 640-acre home range until mid to late October. then they could be traveling up to 5,000 acres.

Another important point to remember is that a buck’s core area is usually one-third of the size (and sometimes smaller) than his home range. That core area is going to be the best of the best of that habitat. Therefore, it’s wise to gain an in-depth understanding of the natural food, water and cover realities of the property. This will help you pinpoint the best places to hunt him as the season progresses.