Local bucks finally look like bucks again, but that doesn’t mean that fall will bring a successful harvest.
I tell people I put out my trail cameras in the summer to document how many fawns are born where I hunt each year. Like most hunters, I divert most of my attention to any bucks that happen to show up and pose for a few pictures.
I recently got to scan through my first set of trail camera pictures since May, and was pleased to see velvet antlers taking shape. They have some time left before the growing season is over, but the chance to see a few bucks I recognized got me pumped up for the season to come.
I read almost any hunting and fishing content I can find, and I’m always interested in reading about studies that involve tracking the movement of radio-collared bucks. I always expect to find common ground, but most of the conclusions found in what I read don’t match what I have personally experienced.
I finally found one study that described a buck I knew. The study found that bucks will change their home range after shedding their velvet and move to a new area. I have felt the pain of this for several years.
I had a great buck that would spend the summer posing for my trail cameras. For four years he tortured me. He would be there all summer and then he would leave somewhere around the end of September or early October.
Trail cameras told me that the most I ever got to hunt him was two weeks in one season. This buck would be gone until July and then show back up. I never saw him while hunting, but I have hundreds of trail camera pictures from the four years he would visit.
What makes it worse is that during that time period he grew antlers with multiple beams, drop tines, and abnormal points – all while having antler bases you couldn’t wrap your hands around.
I’ve experienced the same phenomena with other bucks. Some just leave once summer friendships break down and rutting activity starts to kick in. I don’t have a good answer for why. Some bucks come back by after a while and others don’t return for months.
One thing that I can tell you is that other bucks leave where they spent the summer and start to roam during the rut. I have a few on my wall. That’s what makes deer hunting so great. You never what a hunt will bring during the rut.
Now is when the day dreams of hunters start to kick. I’ve been guilty of a few lately, but I also know that the landscape will change significantly before hunting seasons begin. The bucks of summer don’t always turn into the bucks of fall. Some just decide to go somewhere else.
Jon Kocan is the Stillwater News Press outdoors writer and a longtime hunter. He can be reached at email@example.com.