John's Journal...


Determining If The Core Area Has Moved and Finding the Northern Core Area

Editor’s Note: If you can find the core of a buck's home range, you'll enjoy much-better odds of taking him, since he'll spend most of his time in daylight hours there. But what does the core of a buck's home range look like, what ingredients must that core area have to hold a buck and how can you find or create a core area to take more big bucks each season? To learn the answers to these questions and others, we've interviewed some of the nation's leading biologists and deer hunters.

Bucks will change their core areas -- depending on the availability of food, water and cover. Woods reports on what biologists in Iowa and Illinois have learned who have done research on a deer's core area. "For instance, six months out of the year, a buck may have a small hardwood drainage as his core area," Woods explains. "Then once soybeans start growing in the fields, the deer may move his core area closer to the field because he wants to spend more time closer to his food source. Before the season, you often can see huge bucks out in soybean fields that hold plenty of food and Click to enlargeno predators. Hunters will hang stands and prepare to take the monsters they've spotted in those fields. But, when the beans are gone, the bucks generally will leave too and set up a new core area. Although a buck may go to several different food sources during the year, when he feels threatened, he'll move back into his core area and only travel out of it for food at night. If you live in a region where deer have a constant food source all year, you'll find they often won't move very far from that core. However, if you live in a section where the food sources change regularly, the deer may move their core area to get closer to the food and only feed at night. One of the only times biologists see a core area move dramatically is in herds with an older-age-class structure and a lot of competition for dominance between the bucks."

Woods explains that if a 4-year-old buck that goes out to breed a doe gets challenged by a heavy-bodied 5-year-old buck with a head full of antlers, then that 4-year-old will find himself a new place to live, after he's taken some beatings from this 5-year-old. The 4-year-old will then move his core area to keep from encountering that 5-year-old every time he discovers a doe in estrus. As Woods mentions, "Bucks have a tremendous fidelity to their home range. However, once again their core area can change within that home range based on food availability, predation or terrain changes in land patterns."

Finding the Northern Core Area:

Click to enlargeChris Kirby, the president of Quaker Boy Calls in Orchard Park, New York, hunts in New York State, generally on farms 150 to 200 acres in size. "I believe there are four things that affect a buck's core area where I hunt: human pressure, easy escape routes, heavy cover and a site close to the doe's bedding area. A buck wants to be in a place where he won't be seen by hunters during the daylight hours but still has access to an estrous doe that may wander by. One of the core areas I've found that consistently holds nice bucks is a 30X40-foot thick spot right on the edge of a mountain. The spot has been logged and homes plenty of undergrowth on which the deer can feed. This core area sits on a steep mountain with steep drop-offs n three sides. The buck can see, smell or hear anything in front of him. Too, a small, thick spot lays about 50-yards below the buck's core area where does bed. He can smell the does when they come into this bedding area. This spot is remote, but I don't believe a buck's core area has to be remote. For example, sometimes I've seen several large bucks right off the Highway 90 Expressway during daylight hours, which means their core areas must be very close to the expressway. As long as the deer stay right there, no one will be able to take them. Too, there's no human pressure on these deer. I believe the first thing a buck looks for is a great place to live where he can spend most of his time in the daylight hours without being disturbed."

Click to enlargeOn a 150- to a 200-acre farm, Kirby says often he'll find one dominant buck holding in a core area as well as a subordinate buck and possibly several yearling bucks, depending on the terrain and the land ownership. "But I'll rarely see more than two, 2-1/2 year-old or older bucks on a 150- to a 200-acre farm," Kirby reports. "Most of the time only one, 2-1/2-year-old or older buck will live on each farm."


Check back each day this week for more about A BUCK PICKS HIS CORE AREA...

Day 1 - Identifying A Buck's Core Area
Day 2 - Determining If The Core Area Has Moved and Finding the Northern Core Area
Day 3 - Locating the Core Area of Northwestern and Southern Bucks
Day 4 - Discovering the Core Areas of Southwestern Deer
Day 5 - Discovering the Core Areas of Southwestern Deer


Entry 266, Day 2