The whitetail deer is the most beloved animal in North America. Maybe it’s the antlers. Perhaps it’s the venison. It could even be the adventure. Regardless, hunters love the whitetail. Here are 18 facts about whitetail buck biology.
1. Bucks express unique habits and tendencies. This can culminate into what seems to be a personality type. If there’s consistent behavior, and you notice what these are, it can help produce a game plan to target specific bucks.
2. Bucks have eight different types of scent glands. This list of glands includes the forehead, interdigital, nasal, salivary, tarsal, metatarsal, preorbital, and preputial glands. Each one serves a purpose and role.
3. Home ranges vary based on age, time of year, and more. Buck age, bedding cover, food availability, water source offerings, and other things influence this process.
4. Core areas vary based on age, time of year, and more. Buck age, bedding cover, food availability, water source offerings, and other things influence this process.
5. Bucks go on excursions. While they spend the bulk of their time within core areas and home ranges, a significant number of these same deer go on occasional excursions well outside their regularly inhabited areas.
6. Whitetails are crepuscular animals. This means that deer move the most at dawn and dusk, including mature whitetail bucks.
7. Buck daylight movement increases throughout summer, fall, and peaks during the rut. After the rut, daylight movement begins to decline.
8. Injuries can impact antler growth. Moderate to serious injuries can impact antler growth. For example, a deer that loses or has an injury to a back leg will generally express a significant change in its opposite-side antler.
9. Culling inferior-antlered bucks doesn’t work in wild deer herds. culling doesn’t work for several reasons. Big bucks don’t always sire big bucks in the wild. Does contribute more than 50% of its offspring’s antler genetic code, and there is no way to determine a wild doe’s pedigree. Environmental factors impact a buck’s antler development, which can’t be controlled. Generally, weird racks are caused due to injury. Overall, antler genetics are too engrained to influence.
10. Increasing testosterone levels spark antler velvet shedding. As testosterone levels rise, the antlers begin to shed the velvet that covered them throughout spring and summer.
11. Antlers are the fastest-growing tissue known to man. Recently discovered to be a controlled form of cancer, antlers grow more quickly than any other known biological tissue on earth.
12. Calcification produces the mineralization (hardening) of the antlers. Once the antlers begin to harden, it isn’t long before the completed antlers are ready for fall.
13. Decreasing testosterone levels spark antler casting. As testosterone levels continue to drop, antler casting gets closer to occurring, too.
14. The rut timing varies throughout the continent. While the rut is quite defined in the northern half of America, as well as all of Canada, the southern states and Mexico see a huge variation in rut dates, which span from July to March, location depending.
15. Bucks oftentimes follow certain bedding habits. These tend to include bedding with the wind at their back facing downwind, with multiple escape routes available, close to water, while using the terrain to their advantage, and much more.
16. Bucks eat a lot of food. Deer aren’t true grazers. Instead, they are concentrate selectors, meaning they eat the best parts of the best plants the landscape has to offer. Generally, the average buck can eat up to 5% of its bodyweight each day.
17. Bucks drink a lot of water. A mature buck can drink upward of 5 quarts of water per day. Therefore, some bucks bed close to water — some of which is consumed during daylight hours.
18. Buck-to-doe ratios don’t get too crazy. simply put, a 1-to-10 or 1-to-15 pre-hunt buck-to-doe ratio isn’t possible. Due to annual die-off of does, and a fresh crop of fawns each spring, it’s biologically impossible to see a ratio worse than 1-to-5.
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