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How far will a mature buck travel?

Buckscrape

Active Member
I know there have been studies where deer were tagged and their travels monitored, but I want to hear about real life experiences where mature deer you know of that were subsequently killed miles away from their past "home range". Today with trailcam use so prevalent, bucks with unique characteristics can be so easily positively identified whether it be your neighbor that gets him or a stranger much further away.
I'll relate a couple such stories that I personally was involved in.

The first was around seven or eight years ago when a good buddy of mine who lives ten miles away as the crow flies had a five year old buck that was starting to get interesting. Just before the rut he disappeared and about mid November he showed up on my cams. That deer stuck around that whole winter and when June rolled around I started checking to see what he was going to turn into. Well the first pics I saw of him that year were sent to me from my buddy in July! He ended up taking the buck that fall with his muzzleloader and I went over to lend a hand dragging it out.

The next story is even more bizarre. I had a deer here that at two was a nice 5x5 with a split brow. At three his brows went a little wild and with never having a buck with those characteristics before I decided to see just what he'd mature into. The next year he continued with the weird growth and knowing he was only four I wanted to wait at least one more year before hunting him. Well that fall he was having a rough go and by the time the rut was winding down he had broken almost every point off. The last pic I got of him was Nov 21 and then no more. Our hunting season goes until the first week of Dec so I thought maybe he got shot, but I was still hoping that he survived and I would start getting getting pics of him again ... never happened. Fast forward to the next year's hunting season. I was scrolling through the sask hunting Facebook page and in the middle of Nov there was a pic of a guy holding that buck! The pics unmistakably showed that it was him. I decided to reach out and messaged the hunter and when he told me where he was from and where he got the buck I was absolutely floored. That buck ended up 46 miles away in a straight line using GPS (with tons of great deer habitat between the two points). The hunter was very gracious and we exchanged a bunch of trailcam pics and videos. He said the deer showed up in August and quickly became number one on his hit list. The bizarre part is that without trailcams and social media I would have never known what ever happened to him.

My pic from 2019 and the hunter's pic from 2020.
20201126_210847.jpg20210301_090858.jpg
 

Spysar

Well-Known Member
The furthest one I know about is about 20 miles. The buck was on camera and then shot a few days later 20 miles away. That was in Saskatchewan, near Keeley Lake. He went all that way in 2 or 3 days in the rut.
 

203ntyp

PMA Member
I know there have been studies where deer were tagged and their travels monitored, but I want to hear about real life experiences where mature deer you know of that were subsequently killed miles away from their past "home range". Today with trailcam use so prevalent, bucks with unique characteristics can be so easily positively identified whether it be your neighbor that gets him or a stranger much further away.
Been wondering the same thing this year. My target buck was pretty much a home body for the past 3 years but the last picture I got of him was this past September on the 30th. I found his sheds last spring where I thought he was hanging out and was pumped for this past season but he vanished. It's been rumored that he was seen on another track about a mile from here, not far but if that's true he never once came back to his previous range during the rut. The previous rut he was on my 8 cams very regular and stuck around. Do mature buck move on as to not inter-breed?

There was another huge double drop tine that my buddy had on cam about 5 miles from me, the buck got shot this year about 2.5 miles down a mountain range.

I read an advanced study on buck movement years ago, one buck tagged and collared as a spike buck relocated 25 miles and turned into a huge buck several years later in another state.

Another tagged deer, button buck, from a military training area close to me ended up getting shot a year later over 20 miles away.

No boundaries for buck! That's the highs and lows of targeting a mature buck. Perhaps another will show up this year?
 

northcedar

Active Member
That new USA record typical that got shot last fall moved something like 8 or 10 miles from where guys were getting late season pics for a few years. I think they said he crossed something like 30 different farms and 6 or 8 roads to get where he was.
 

8bitnes

Member
I recall an article I read years ago and fortunately was able to pull it up. State of Missouri tagged and tracked several hundred deer. The biggest mover traveled 200 miles in 22 days

I just pulled up the research paper that discusses the whole study. They followed that particular deer for over 500 days. The number two mover in the group traveled 25 miles from home.

In their research of 15 similar peer reviewed articles, the average furthest mover across those 15 studies was roughly 60 miles. The longest previous one they found was 130 miles in ag-heavy South Dakota where forest made up 1% of the area
 

Sligh1

Administrator
Staff member
Ive known of 2 that went 15 miles or so. Here’s the key to both of them…. They did it multiple years in a row & when they relocated - they stayed in that other area for remainder of season. I believe both of them did this around the September timeframe & did it multiple years. Relocating from a small summer spot to a small fall/winter spot.

General travel during the rut- IMO - most iowa land where there is good food, cover & does…. Maybe a couple miles. Maybe. After 20+ years of hunting the rut & having any amount of trail cameras- picking up bucks during rut I “don’t know” is pretty rare. Extreme low on travel area is probably 40-80 acres. Extreme high is maybe a few miles IMO or in my experience. No doubt it’s a different animal in other states- big woods, wide open prairies or low deer densities. The main time we ever pick up new deer is right after velvet comes off or late season when it’s cold & they search for food & good thermal cover.
 
I missed a buck with on a Friday and he was killed 24 hours later about 3 miles away. The land I was hunting bordered a state park where the deer population was supposed to be about 80 dpsm. This was at Knob Noster State Park in 1989.
 

newfarmer

Member
The new farm I moved into, the neighbors have been communicating really well- we are finding that there is a buck traveling about 7 miles back and forth.
 
It seems like around 60-70% of the bucks stay in the same area year round on my farm. The ones that do leave seem to be pushed off by more dominant bucks right before the rut starts. The bucks that have a different range they use every year that is several miles apart seems strange(at least in the Midwest). It is also hard to tell which bucks get shot or die, and those that change to a new range.
 

Bucksnbears

Well-Known Member
Outside of a winter migration for a good food source, I don't see the 5+ year olds traveling very far.
They don't have to.
 

wishing

New Member
I just pulled up the research paper that discusses the whole study. They followed that particular deer for over 500 days. The number two mover in the group traveled 25 miles from home.

In their research of 15 similar peer reviewed articles, the average furthest mover across those 15 studies was roughly 60 miles. The longest previous one they found was 130 miles in ag-heavy South Dakota where forest made up 1% of the area
I read that article. Very interesting especially where the buck would hold up during the day just about under everyones noises. traveled west to east the state of Missouri, remarkable animals!
 
I read that article. Very interesting especially where the buck would hold up during the day just about under everyones noises. traveled west to east the state of Missouri, remarkable animals!
It really seems like mature bucks like to bed in unlikely places such as close to well-traveled roads, in backyards, near buildings, or somewhere similar. I wonder if they feel safer from predators in these areas and accept the human traffic as a non-threat?
 
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