A popular question this time of year: Will the bucks I’ve been watching in fields and getting on my trail cameras this summer stick around when hunting season opens, or once the bachelor groups start separating will the bucks disperse and disappear?
According to Penn State’s Deer-Forest study, more than half of the small-antlered yearlings (18 months old) you’ve been seeing will hit the road from mid-September through early November. The adult bucks, however, won’t be going anywhere, which is good news. Very rarely does a mature buck have a different home range during the breeding season from one he used all summer.
However, it might seem like the big bucks disappeared.
First, the bachelor groups break up. And then during the rut, the home ranges of the bucks will increase by 2 to 5 times. If a buck has a home range right now of a square mile, come late October he’ll be traveling an area of 2-5 square miles.
So you might or might not see him for days or weeks when you’re on stand. It just depends on where he is in that 2-5 mile radius while you’re in the woods.
But just the fact that one, two or more shooter bucks are still hanging in your area gives you a fighting chance of seeing and tagging one the next couple of months. Good luck.
Review Online: Many dead deer have been found…recently, and hunters are getting concerned. Wildlife officials from Ohio, Pennsylvania and West Virginia have confirmed several cases of what appears to be EHD. Some deer have been tested and officials from all three states reported last week that EHD is present.
Dead and sick deer have been reported in Beaver County, Pennsylvania.
Hancock County appears to be hardest hit in West Virginia.
In Ohio, dead deer are showing up in Columbiana, Geauga, Trumbull and Jefferson counties. An Ohio wildlife officer said, “Jefferson County has been hit the hardest, by far. Right now we have at least 111 reports from Jefferson.”
BREAKING: This photo from Ohio has gone viral on social media. There is also a video of this sick and disoriented buck stumbling around. The county in Ohio is unclear. The deer is pictured with a sheriff’s deputy, who I cut from the image for privacy reasons.
People on Facebook and Instagram are coming up with all sorts of rumors, innuendo and wild speculation about this deer, prompting the deputy to respond on his wife’s Facebook page. While I cannot verify that this is his writing, I have no reason to doubt it. He seems like an honest and compassionate guy, and he’s a deer hunter.
…watching the deer walk in circles I became furious. I presumed that someone had tried to poach the deer because it doesn’t have a right eye and its left eye is glazed over/white, no pupils. Its mouth is open, tongue exposed salivating…As I video, because I have never seen anything like this, I’m trying to determine how to safely take it out of its misery. …the people watching advised me this deer has been seen on their property the day prior doing the same thing, walking in circles, running into (things). My sgt arrived and the buck staggered to the street, ran into a fence, and bumped into a telephone pole. We stopped traffic, and I literally was 3 feet away, grunting, snort wheezing trying to get it out of the street. It finally ran into the corn field and was safely humanely destroyed.
He ends with: This pic was taken by my sgt, with no intent to post on the internet. I sent this pic and the video to another friend who lives close. He forwarded to another friend, who forwarded it on hence the pic and video are for the world to see. Yes in the pic, the deer is still living, head is up and bloody foamy blood from the mouth. Yes the deer could not see as it only has the white, glazed eye you see in the picture. Ironically, the local farmer where the deer was put down drove by… His tenant is the local county game warden. He shows up, advised he was taking the deer to be tested for “ehd.”
EHD kills some huge bucks like this every year. Also there is some speculation that maybe the buck had Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD); that would be huge and dire news because CWD has never been confirmed in Ohio. I’m betting EHD because of the buck’s symptoms.
One last thing the deputy said—there was no intent to post either the picture or the video on the internet. I sent this pic and the video to another friend who lives close. He forwarded to another friend, who forwarded it on…
If you want to keep a picture of a big buck (or anything else) quiet, do not, I repeat DO NOT, send it to anybody—not your wife or son or best hunting friend. It WILL leak out and, as the deputy found out, be out there for the world to see.
As I have said time and again here on the blog and on BIG DEER TV, I am neither a scientist nor an astronomer. But I am a whitetail hunter and have been doing it for 40 years, more than 30 of those professionally. I’m also a moon fanatic. Over the years I figure I’ve spent between 880 and 1,000 days in a deer stand in November, during every imaginable moon phase and all waxing and waning days.
My journal notes and personal observations say that there is definitely something to the November moon and how it impacts the movements of rutting whitetails.
My 2017 predictions:
I like the way this November’s moon sets up. For starters it exposes the seeking phase of the pre-rut, when bucks start to prowl and expand their range for the first hot does. Halloween into the first week of November is a good time to bowhunt in any season. This year, with the moon waxing toward full–91% visible on November 1 to 100% bright on November 4-5–the hunting should be especially good.
If you hunt that first week of November, keep in mind that deer movement will be best near food sources in the afternoons. If a cold front sweeps into your hunt area that week, better yet.
During the full moon week of Nov. 4-11, the best buck movement will shift to the mornings. While it flies in the face of what many scientists and hunters believe, I love hunting a full moon in early November because in my experience, the deer rut hard all day. You’re apt to see a shooter on his feet at 8:00 a.m.…11:00 a.m.…2:00 p.m….any day this week, so hang on stand as long as you can.
For vacation-planning purposes:
If the land you’ll hunt has crop fields and food plots, I’d suggest you hunt the first 5 days of November. Hunt stands near the feed and focus on the afternoons. A stand on a slightly elevated ridge 100-200 yards off a corn or bean field would be a hotspot either afternoon or morning.
If the land is mostly woods with mast and greenery for deer food, think about hunting a little later, say November 5-12. Historically, if you check the record books, these are the very best days in any year to kill a monster buck. Set your stands back in the woods along trails and travel funnels—especially those with smoking-fresh scrapes–and hunt bucks seeking to hook up with does near bedding areas in the mornings.
Again, if you can hack it, stay on a deep-cover stand all day. I expect some giants to fall from 11:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. during the big moon November 5-10.
Buck movement and rutting activity will vary some according to local conditions and weather, but for the very best chance to shoot a giant I say hunt sometime in the Nov. 2-12 window. But go when you can. You still have a decent shot into the new moon of November 17-18, though in most places the best rut will begin to slow down.
If at all possible hunt ground with minimal or no pressure, which I know is difficult. But even moderate human intrusion can turn mature bucks nocturnal and blow up your moon opportunity.
Hunt hard and safe, and good luck.