Home Range and Bachelor groups?

yoderjac

5 year old buck +
Has anyone seen any radio collar research on how these relate?

In general, radio collar work with bucks show home ranges vary with habitat but 1,000 acres is a good average proxy. There are excursions from these home ranges that can be quite far from time to time. Of course during the rut bucks can travel quite far in search of hot does. That said, there are generally core home ranges where a buck spends most of his time.

During the summer, we often see bachelor groups of bucks, generally, but not always, in the same age classes.

I realize this may have little value to folks with small properties, but here is the question. When we see a bachelor group in the summer with say 5-10 bucks in it. Does that mean that the home range of those bucks overlap in that location? How much to those home ranges vary?

I've seen radio collar studies where some individual bucks were tracked. Has anyone seen a study where a high number of bucks in an area were radio collared and tracked to look at how they relate to one another throughout the year? This may be different with region.

If you haven't seen any research, what are your general thoughts on this subject?

Thanks,

Jack
 

Troubles Trees

5 year old buck +
I was looking for an answer to a similar question quite a few years ago and within this they cite quite a few different studies that will likely have your answer. I was looking for buck movement and distances/home range and was surprised how many studies only tracked doe movements, some of them were using the data to analyze risk management for diseases like CWD and EHD so it makes sense. I will warn you though, I went down the rabbit hole on this one and it consumed a lot of time finding the specific answer I was looking for. I am at work at the moment so I will just post the original study I think I started from, the one that answers your question is in there somewhere (I think) and I will try to find it later bud. This is the one I had bookmarked so I could be wrong. I did end up finding one that had an actual map showing the different food sources that had AG fields and wooded areas during leisure time or travel routes that overlapped. Most of the studies just tell you the average distance traveled per group. I wanted to see where they lived and times of day they traveled etc. and ended up with what I felt was a good answer to my question so I am not sure why I didn't bookmark that specific one.

You will likely want GPS tracked collar studies as opposed to ones they used radio frequency tracking and visual sightings that are much less accurate.

 
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yoderjac

5 year old buck +
Good link. I've have seen that and several other excursion studies. I'm thinking more about the relationship between bucks and overlapping home ranges along with seasonal movement.

Thanks,

Jack
 

omicron1792

5 year old buck +
Good link. I've have seen that and several other excursion studies. I'm thinking more about the relationship between bucks and overlapping home ranges along with seasonal movement.

Thanks,

Jack
That’s a good question Jack. I have 300 acres and I have two 3 buck bachelor groups coming through the property. They both come through every 3 days almost like clockwork, which makes sense for a 1000 acre home range.

Also wanted to say thanks for your input to this site. You are always good to give a thorough, Informative answer. So thank you.
 

yoderjac

5 year old buck +
When I get pictures of individual bucks in the summer, who knows if I'll ever see those bucks again. They could be resident or on excursion. I have seen nothing in the research about bucks taking excursions together. So, I'm wondering when I get a picture of a bachelor group, if I can assume they are bucks whose home ranges overlap with each other and with my property.

I doubt if I'll find any research this specific, but I'd like to hear what folks think about this as a metric.

Thanks,

Jack
 

Baker

5 year old buck +
Great question . I will ask around about about actual studies but I watch this phenomenon every year both watching the bucks and with cameras.

What I've observed is the bachelor groups have a territory they hang out in once they get together in summer. Then the individual bucks have a territory they move to once they split up. For some they stay where they were all summer. But we also see some move miles away within a day . stay for a month or so, then once the rut is over they are back to the exact spot before the rut started. Excursions are the norm for all the bucks from where they hang out during the rut but but how much and how far might be a personality thing. Some do walkabouts for a day or two, some a lot more. But to me , once the bachelor groups split its like a bomb went off and wherever I was watching them all summer may bear little resemblance to where they are come fall...again maybe by miles.

Two examples: Buck #1 Fully mature at 6+---Watched him do this several years in a row. Could get his picture everyday at the same feeder all summer. Then to the day, he would move 5 miles to the same spot every winter and stay there for the rut.

Buck #2, last year. Went on an excursion Fully mature highly identifiable and actually had a buddy trying to hunt him archery on a 12,000 pasture. Late summer pics in velvet, set up to hunt in December. Had several close encounters but no luck. Then after seeing him one morning, watched him from the camp at the opposite end of the 12,000 acre pasture.

I think there are several factors. Habitat, personality, in the bachelor group they sort out a lot of dominance issues and that may effect how close they are willing to stay close to another during rut, and then the wild card that cant be explained
 

yoderjac

5 year old buck +
Great question . I will ask around about about actual studies but I watch this phenomenon every year both watching the bucks and with cameras.

What I've observed is the bachelor groups have a territory they hang out in once they get together in summer. Then the individual bucks have a territory they move to once they split up. For some they stay where they were all summer. But we also see some move miles away within a day . stay for a month or so, then once the rut is over they are back to the exact spot before the rut started. Excursions are the norm for all the bucks from where they hang out during the rut but but how much and how far might be a personality thing. Some do walkabouts for a day or two, some a lot more. But to me , once the bachelor groups split its like a bomb went off and wherever I was watching them all summer may bear little resemblance to where they are come fall...again maybe by miles.

Two examples: Buck #1 Fully mature at 6+---Watched him do this several years in a row. Could get his picture everyday at the same feeder all summer. Then to the day, he would move 5 miles to the same spot every winter and stay there for the rut.

Buck #2, last year. Went on an excursion Fully mature highly identifiable and actually had a buddy trying to hunt him archery on a 12,000 pasture. Late summer pics in velvet, set up to hunt in December. Had several close encounters but no luck. Then after seeing him one morning, watched him from the camp at the opposite end of the 12,000 acre pasture.

I think there are several factors. Habitat, personality, in the bachelor group they sort out a lot of dominance issues and that may effect how close they are willing to stay close to another during rut, and then the wild card that cant be explained
Interesting thoughts and observations. I completely agree that where deer are in the summer is not a good predictor for fall. I have seen the sort of the seasonally split some bucks have demonstrated in some studies.
 

Angus 1895

5 year old buck +
I think movement is also determined by insect load.

I haven’t seen specific “ age class” bachelor groups. The bucks seem to be a variation of ages.

The humorous part of my deal in Idaho is how white tails and mule deer try to uphold “ Apartheid “ or segregation.
 

FarmerDan

5 year old buck +
Has anyone seen any radio collar research on how these relate?

In general, radio collar work with bucks show home ranges vary with habitat but 1,000 acres is a good average proxy. There are excursions from these home ranges that can be quite far from time to time. Of course during the rut bucks can travel quite far in search of hot does. That said, there are generally core home ranges where a buck spends most of his time.

During the summer, we often see bachelor groups of bucks, generally, but not always, in the same age classes.

I realize this may have little value to folks with small properties, but here is the question. When we see a bachelor group in the summer with say 5-10 bucks in it. Does that mean that the home range of those bucks overlap in that location? How much to those home ranges vary?

I've seen radio collar studies where some individual bucks were tracked. Has anyone seen a study where a high number of bucks in an area were radio collared and tracked to look at how they relate to one another throughout the year? This may be different with region.

If you haven't seen any research, what are your general thoughts on this subject?

Thanks,

Jack

Penn State! We are....
https://www.deer.psu.edu/dear-deer-squad-about-those-bachelors/

I think this GPS collar research has been going on for at least 10 years. Maybe more. It's fascinating. If you have strongly held beliefs about deer movement DO NOT read any of this!
 

yoderjac

5 year old buck +
Penn State! We are....
https://www.deer.psu.edu/dear-deer-squad-about-those-bachelors/

I think this GPS collar research has been going on for at least 10 years. Maybe more. It's fascinating. If you have strongly held beliefs about deer movement DO NOT read any of this!

Thanks! Did you go to PSU? Their deer pens were around back when I was in school.

Thanks,

Jack
 

Baker

5 year old buck +
Coincidentally was watching a bachelor group of 8 bucks yesterday. 2 one year olds, 4 two year olds and 2- 3 year olds. Pretty typical .

Couple thoughts on the study from psu.
I think there are a few other reason for bachelor groups that I didn't see mentioned...all just my opinion. One, I think it is nature way of letting them work out the pecking order safer with less testosterone and less chance of hurting each other. By the time they shed velvet they know each other really well , dominance has been established and those bucks are less likely to fight. Thats another reason in my mind why you generally see similar age classes together especially 2-4 yr olds. Also I rarely see bachelor groups with many older bucks [5+] as they tend to be more solitary even in summer. I do see older bucks with very young bucks in the summer. kinda cute; like a mentoring program. Its when the 3 and 4 yr olds go on walkabouts and run into bucks where dominance wasn't established in the summer that trouble begins, By far the majority of fighting deaths we see are the 3 and 4 yr olds [ plenty of exceptions to this though]

Interesting to note the study observed home range increasing 2-5 times. By the study's standard that could equate to 3200 acres for some. To me that more or less establishing a new home range.

Also wonder if a weakness in the study would be lack of mature deer. In an unmolested herd there will be more bucks 5 and older than 1-4. Does a healthier age structure impact territorial shifts from summer pattern to fall? I tend to think so though again lots of factors. But agreeing with the study somewhat in general, to see bucks shifting from small home ranges to 3-5000 acres I think not unusual.

I am as apt to see 1 yr olds hanging around momma as in a bachelor group. After birthing it seems acceptable to momma to have presumably her previous son in proximity. This usually ends the following rut when mature bucks won't tolerate his presence. I almost never see anything older than a 1 yr old with does/fawns in summer lest they happen to be in the same field together. Momma doesn't tolerate bucks being around her and her fawn. Even then they arrive separately from different directions.

At the risk of being repetitive though I think bucks where habitat allows can often go on very lengthy walkabouts. Case in point
Buck #3 Filmed and regularly seen on pasture next to the Rio grande River. Photo of same deer taken 8 miles away under a feeder same month. The buck had to walk around 1/2 mile hi fence along a major hwy. , cross the highway to get to the other ranch. This much movement is not unusual where scale is large enough for it to happen.
 

FarmerDan

5 year old buck +
Coincidentally was watching a bachelor group of 8 bucks yesterday. 2 one year olds, 4 two year olds and 2- 3 year olds. Pretty typical .

Couple thoughts on the study from psu.
I think there are a few other reason for bachelor groups that I didn't see mentioned...all just my opinion. One, I think it is nature way of letting them work out the pecking order safer with less testosterone and less chance of hurting each other. By the time they shed velvet they know each other really well , dominance has been established and those bucks are less likely to fight. Thats another reason in my mind why you generally see similar age classes together especially 2-4 yr olds. Also I rarely see bachelor groups with many older bucks [5+] as they tend to be more solitary even in summer. I do see older bucks with very young bucks in the summer. kinda cute; like a mentoring program. Its when the 3 and 4 yr olds go on walkabouts and run into bucks where dominance wasn't established in the summer that trouble begins, By far the majority of fighting deaths we see are the 3 and 4 yr olds [ plenty of exceptions to this though]

Interesting to note the study observed home range increasing 2-5 times. By the study's standard that could equate to 3200 acres for some. To me that more or less establishing a new home range.

Also wonder if a weakness in the study would be lack of mature deer. In an unmolested herd there will be more bucks 5 and older than 1-4. Does a healthier age structure impact territorial shifts from summer pattern to fall? I tend to think so though again lots of factors. But agreeing with the study somewhat in general, to see bucks shifting from small home ranges to 3-5000 acres I think not unusual.

I am as apt to see 1 yr olds hanging around momma as in a bachelor group. After birthing it seems acceptable to momma to have presumably her previous son in proximity. This usually ends the following rut when mature bucks won't tolerate his presence. I almost never see anything older than a 1 yr old with does/fawns in summer lest they happen to be in the same field together. Momma doesn't tolerate bucks being around her and her fawn. Even then they arrive separately from different directions.

At the risk of being repetitive though I think bucks where habitat allows can often go on very lengthy walkabouts. Case in point
Buck #3 Filmed and regularly seen on pasture next to the Rio grande River. Photo of same deer taken 8 miles away under a feeder same month. The buck had to walk around 1/2 mile hi fence along a major hwy. , cross the highway to get to the other ranch. This much movement is not unusual where scale is large enough for it to happen.
I was going to ask Yoder his thoughts on the PSU blog response to the question. It was curious. I don't know the principal researcher personally. I have traded a few emails with him, Dr. Duane Diefenbach. He is very scientifically precise in his research language although I found his bachelor response more candid than I would have expected.

I had to stop myself from jumping to a linear picture in my mind when he said a buck's home range would increase 2x - 5x in the rut. He went on to be more specific saying 1 sq mile area to something bigger.

Let me risk doing some math. Assuming a perfect circle (perfect circles help my thinking) a buck with a home range as such only needs to range a little more than 1/2 mile in any direction to cover his one square mile home. To cover 5 square miles (in my Nirvana example) he only needs to range only a little over 1.25 miles in any direction. Now, I realize life ain't a perfect circle, but it's not linear either.

And there are the exceptions. Those are the stories I remember! Diefenbach's research blog is filled with stories of exceptions. One doe was collared as a fawn. She was harvest 16-miles away some years later.
 

yoderjac

5 year old buck +
I think a lot of this is like trying to analyze human behavior. We can probably talk about things on a statistical basis but it is hard to apply much of it to any specific situation because of the exceptions.

When Diefenbach suggests a 2x-5x increase during the rut, I'm guessing that is not a uniform increase. I'm sure much has to do with terrain, habitat in general, and doe distribution. I would guess deer densities also come into play as well as sex ratios. Any study is generally dealing with a relatively small number of deer in one setting. I'm sure this is just from a practical perspective. That is generally why researchers are so careful and precise with language. It is often the industry that uses tidbits of research to support sales of different products. This is not just the deer industry but the market in general.

I don't think there is much doubt that under some situations there can be a significant range expansion for bucks during the rut. How much, and under what conditions, is still beyond our reach .

To expand on your math Dan, I would say he needs to range 1.25 miles in "all" directions to get the area increase. Since ranges are irregular shapes and expansion is likely not uniform, those bucks could be many miles away from a given centroid during some point in the rut.

Thanks,

Jack
 

Troubles Trees

5 year old buck +
I forgot to look this up after I said I would :O Sorry about that but I think this is the GPS study (more of a summary of the study) I spoke about earlier. I am struggling to find the actual study, I know this was on a heavily hunted lease property and they use bait but don't recall all the particulars.

 
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