John's Journal...


Discovering the Core Areas of Southwestern Deer

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.

Forrest Armke, the manager at the Ford Ranch near Melvin, Texas, where hunters bag 100-trophy bucks a year, explains, "In our part of the Click to enlargecountry, trophy bucks will have a core area that contains a river or a creek bottom that produces some type of forbs they like to eat. They'll bed in a higher elevation region with dense brush to be able to smell danger coming from a greater distance than they can in low-lying places. They'll also browse in these high points where they can hear a hunter approaching and have plenty of escape cover they can run through without anyone's seeing them because of the very-thick brush. Also in a core area in the Southwest, a big buck generally will have three places where he can go to water. He'll alternate between these three watering holes and never consistently go to any of the three. He'll water closest to where he's feeding on any given day -- often only at night during extremely-dry periods. Young bucks tend to set up their core area close to water, but older bucks will have their core area away from the water -- perhaps 1-1/2 miles away.

Click to enlarge"Because we have almost a one-to-one, buck-to-doe ratio on our property, when the rut arrives, generally most of the bucks will have one core area during the rut so they don't have to compete so often for does and a different core area throughout the rest of the year. After photographing some of the biggest bucks on our property, we've noticed that their core area during the breeding season may be 3- to 4-miles away from the core area they use for the rest of the year. When the rut ends, then those big bucks will move back to their other core area. Maybe they move their core area because they start trailing a doe out of their core region and continue to pick up does as they move further away from that core area. Then the bucks tend to stay in the area where they're doing the most breeding. Perhaps because they're so big they can move the smaller bucks out of the new place Click to enlargeand return to their own home after the breeding season. I believe that a large number of big Southwestern bucks have two core areas like I've described, but I also know that there are other bucks that have only one core area and will stay there all season. I've made these assumptions based on aerial surveys that we fly every year over our entire 30,000-acre ranch."


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 4