Keep Buck Home Range Sizes in Mind

Buck Raking Dead Tree

Hunting pressure during the rut won’t change a mature buck’s core area, but it will change how and when they use it. The more pressure that is out there, the more nocturnal a buck will become.

By Daniel E. Schmidt

The important point to remember is this: When you’re chasing an adult buck, you need to understand that his home range is going to be about 640 acres (a square mile) during all times outside the rut. During the rut, he could be roaming as much as 5,000 acres. His core area is going to be his safety zone. That could be 40 acres or 200 acres … it all depends on the food, water and protective cover.

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That’s the important point. Now, here is the crucial point: When thinking in terms of a home range or core area, you need to get out of the trap of thinking in contiguous blocks of land. Just because you own a nice, neat 400-acre rectangle doesn’t mean a buck is going to call that his home range. It could be just part of it. The same thing goes for a core area. It has to be the best of the best. So, his living quarter could look like a long skinny finger, a triangle, links of a chain or even a combination of all the above, and then some.

The best way to identify a buck’s core area is through good, old-fashioned scouting and careful study of a topo map. Do this, and the light bulb will eventually pop on and stay on … and you will start filling more tags.

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