Mature Buck Fall Transition | THLETE Whitetail Deer Hunting

Mature Buck Fall Transition | THLETE Whitetail Deer Hunting

Sep 9th 2019

It happens each fall, in fact, it is going on as I write this article. No matter how hard you work and strategize to hold bucks on your property, some simply up and vanish overnight. But where do they go and why? You built an oasis of whitetail habitat, and it just wasn’t enough. Don’t take it personally, there is a reason whitetail bucks up and leave, and it is out of your control. As August fades to September, anywhere from 25-40% of your bucks may re-locate to their breeding range. Autumn is a time of change in the deer woods, and we as hunters need to transition with it. Temps are dropping, bachelor groups are breaking up, velvet is being shed, and testosterone is causing minor skirmishes among the bucks that spent the summer months as best buds. Now is the time to scout smart and keep close tabs on the bucks that are using your property as the whitetail buck fall transition happens.

There are a couple of theories as to why whitetail range shifts occur. It is hypothesized that yearling bucks are pushed off of properties each fall by mature does to prevent inbreeding. Aside from that, they are being forcefully pressured to leave by the mature breeding age bucks. A 5-year-old testosterone filled breeder doesn’t have a high tolerance for a yearling fork-horn and will not hesitate to give him the scare of a lifetime. So these young deer are in essence kicked around like a soccer ball until they find a secure area where they can establish themselves and spend the fall learning the ropes of the rut. As the rut winds down and testosterone levels decrease, these young bucks often return to the ground where they were born and will spend the following spring/summer months at “home.” This range shift can occur each fall; bucks may move to their fall breeding ranges to re-establish themselves as the king of their new domain.

Another reason for fall shifting doesn’t have as much to do with the deer hierarchy but rather the change in preferred food sources. As bean fields and clover begin to turn, bucks will relocate to areas that have high concentrations of food and thus does. A food source shift is typically not as dramatic as an all out breeding range transition and is often a half mile or less. If evening bean field sightings dramatically drop off, the culprit is often a mast acorn drop and the deer are in the timber, less visible but still in the area.

As frustration sets in and your dream buck migrates to a neighbors farm down the road, remember that you too will have some new visitors. By maintaining a healthy deer herd and offering adequate food, water, and cover, you are sure to attract a few stud bucks that will stick around through the rut.

In my personal experience, relocating a buck that has made a fall shift and can be very difficult; especially in a landscape dominated by private parcels. Sure, if you have a lot of spare time and unlimited resources, you can spend evenings driving back-roads attempting to relocate him and gain access but all too often efforts will fall short. For many of us, spare time is a luxury, and it may be best to utilize the hand that we are dealt rather than playing timber-detective and trying to track him down. A little luck can go a long way in the deer woods and who knows, maybe a giant whitetail from the neighboring farm will appear in your bean field this week and become your new number one target buck.