Deer are very tough critters to figure out. But the very foundation of figuring out how to kill one is determining where they live. Once you know where they bed, feed and water, the rest is knowing when to hunt and when not to and waiting on the right conditions. As for the location factor, here are seven things you need to know.
1. Home Ranges Aren’t Circular, Square or Rectangular
We often think of home ranges as a big, square block. Well, it isn’t. Most home ranges will be an irregular, organic shape. A deer establishes its home range based on its needs and where it can find them.
2. Food, Water and Bedding Cover Play a Role
As mentioned, a home range will vary based on the availability of food, water and bedding cover. These are the three basic needs of a deer and greatly influence the size, shape and location of the home range.
3. They Are Fluid
Home ranges can and will change. Oftentimes bucks will have a different spring and summer than fall and winter range. Also, it isn’t uncommon for bucks to change home ranges from year to year, too.
4. Don’t Confuse the Core Area with the Home Range
A home range is the entire area that a deer lives in. On average, these are generally about 650 acres or one square mile. But remember, the home ranges aren’t square. As for the core area, this is the location that most the deer will spend the vast majority of their time. In fact, core areas are approximately 50 to 75 acres and deer will spend 75 to 80 percent of their time within that location.
5. Deer Go On Excursions
It is possible for deer to occasionally travel outside of their home range. It’s actually quite common and numerous studies have documented this behavior. It might explain (at least some of) the cases when random deer show up for a day or two and then suddenly vanish never to be seen again.
6. Pressure Can Quickly Become a Factor, Or Not Be at All
Some deer react negatively to pressure. Some bucks rarely react at all. Every deer has more or less toleration to human intrusion. But, in my opinion, it’s best to just not test that theory out. Stay off their radar regardless of their personality.
7. Every Deer Is Unique with Different Habits
Each deer has its own personality. This means each deer will have different food preferences, bedding habits, travel routines, etc. And it certainly means that no two buck’s home ranges and/or core areas will look or be the same.
Whitetails make the hunting world go round. Josh Honeycutt, deer hunting editor and "Brow Tines and Backstrap" blogger, knows a fair bit about killing mature deer. He was raised up hunting the river bottoms of Kentucky. And he still hunts there—among other places—to this day.
Follow along as he shares his adventures, experiences and knowledge of the white-tailed deer.