John's Journal...


Locating the Core Area of Northwestern and Southern Bucks

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.

Northwestern Bucks:

Michael Waddell of Columbus, Georgia, the host of the "Realtree Road Trips" TV show on the "Outdoor Channel," has hunted the Milk River section of Montana for the last 9 years. "I believe that finding the core area of really-big bucks is the most-critical ingredient in taking a big buck, especially in the Milk River region, where Click to enlargegenerally the trophy bucks will bed on the edge of the riverbank. Probably 85- to 90-percent of the big bucks in this region will have their core area on the river because the river is thick with undergrowth. Too, right beside these thick-cover sites, you'll often see large alfalfa and oat fields, a few wheat fields and/or weed stubble. Unlike many sections of the country, in this region, we never go near the core area unless we're planning to actually take a buck. We'll try to get on a high point early in the morning or late in the afternoon to watch for the bucks to come out and feed in the fields. We usually want to stay about 1/2- to 1-mile away from the bucks and watch them with spotting scopes and binoculars. Bucks generally will come to a certain part of a field and bed there, perhaps because one region may be better irrigated or may get better fertilizer than another, or, this portion of the crop may be healthier than other parts."

Because Waddell and his team almost always hunt with their bows, they must place their tree stands only 50- to 100-yards away from the deer's bedding area. To minimize his human odor, Waddell will wait until mid-day when the buck's in his core area and go in a truck to the place where he'll set up his tree stand. After setting up a stand, he'll get back in the truck and leave because he knows that since deer see and hear trucks and tractors throughout the year, these vehicles don't scare the deer.” We're careful not to spook the deer when we're setting up or going to a stand," Waddell comments. "We'll go to the stand in the truck and climb up into the stand. Then when we're through hunting, we'll wait to come down the tree when someone brings the truck to get us. Ninety percent of the time, a trophy buck's Click to enlargecore area in the Northwest will be less than 200 yards from where he comes into the fields to hunt."

Southern Bucks:

Preston Pittman, the president of Pittman Game Calls in Pickens, Mississippi, has hunted his home state and all across the South his entire life. He observes that, "Security is what a southern buck 4-1/2 or 5-years old needs to survive. In the South, to find that sense of security, an older-class buck has to be in a place where a hunter will rarely, if ever, threaten him. For years, hunters have believed that to get to the regions where no other hunter goes, they have to move deep into the woods. The majority of the hunters don't want to hunt where they hear the roar of traffic or see 18-wheelers running up and down interstates. I'm convinced that many big bucks live within rock-throwing distance of interstates, highways, county roads, main roads leading to camp houses and public-hunting areas -- all places where you won't see hunters during hunting season. Generally hunters will park in the same spots and go into the woods from the same direction every time they hunt. Some of the biggest bucks I've ever taken have had core areas within a few hundred yards of these major road systems. The land close to a main road usually has cover, water, plenty of food and no hunting pressure -- all the ingredients required for a very-productive hunting area. One of the biggest bucks I've ever taken with my bow, I bagged within less than 100 yards of Interstate 65.

Click to enlarge"Also look for core areas of deer near garden sites and blackberry patches close to homes in the country. I've taken big bucks before that I know have spent their time watching the lady of the house come out in the back yard to hang clothes up on a clothesline, working in her garden or feeding the dogs in the dog pen. Once a big buck learns that people in certain places pose no threat to him, that's where he'll set up his core area."


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 3