Hunting Pressure: Key to Big Bucks
How Hunting Pressure Affects Deer Movement
Editor’s Note: A deer hunter who consistently takes big bucks has to know those trophybucks’ thoughts and determine what the buck will do beforehe does it. White-tailed deer more than 2-1/2-years old have gone to school on deer hunters. They’ve studied the hunters’ habits and schedules and have become masters of hunter evasion. “We had a group of wildlife biologists and deer hunters hunting a certain piece of property for several years and studying the deer there,” Dr. Grant Woods of Reedsville, Missouri, one of the nation’s top deer researchers, says. Woods’ team of wildlife biologists and deer hunters had set up hunting areas in grids to determine who hunted where over several years. “We learned that deer set up travel corridors to avoid places where the team was hunting. These deer managed to outsmart these trained wildlife biologists and some of the best deer hunters anywhere.” The older thebuck, the less likely that you’ll locate him where you expect to see him, if that’s where all other hunters hunt. A hunter needs to understand the effects of hunting pressureand learn where a buck retreats when he experiences that hunting pressure.
Many hunters believe the more a deer sees or smells humans, the less likely that the animal will appear in the woods during daylight hours. However, Bob Foulkrod, a nationally-known bowhunter from Troy, Pennsylvania, believes the intent of the human helps determine the fear factor of the buck. “If a buck is in a non-pressure situation where he sees hikers, blueberry pickers or photographers during the summer months, he may run on first sighting the human before turning to see if he’s being pursued,” Foulkrod mentions. “When he realizes he isn’t being chased or shot at, then he can take a lot of human pressure. But after hunting season opens, and the bucks know that every time they come in contact with humans they’ll be pursued, only a little pressure will put a buck into his nocturnal state, especially if he’s a 2-1/2 or a 3-1/2-year-old deer.”
Dr. Keith Causey, a retired professor of wildlife science from Auburn University in Auburn, Alabama, agrees with Foulkrod as he states that, “Since deer are individuals, determining how much hunting pressure one deer can withstand and using that information to draw a conclusion about all deer is impossible. However, from the harvest data I’ve seen, when a buck is 3-years old or older and experiences intense hunting pressure, then he becomes reclusive in his behavior and almost impossible to harvest legally because of his nocturnal activity.”
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