The Reason Deer Show Up Out of Nowhere and Surprise Hunters

Where did that buck come from when it "shows up out of nowhere" and surprises a hunter? It didn't just materialize out of thin air, of course. Steve Bartylla explains this fascinating part of deer biology — use of home range and core areas — in greater detail in this episode of Grow 'em Big.

Where did that buck come from when it "shows up out of nowhere" and surprises a hunter? It didn't just materialize out of thin air, of course, and probably didn't travel 10 or 20 miles to get there. It's a buck with a nearby home range that the hunter didn't know about and had never seen before, whether on game camera surveys or in person. Thus, the surprise when it showed up and the hunter was caught off guard.

What is a deer's home range and how does it change throughout the year? A home range for a buck is about 640 acres, and there will be exceptions to everything. But that's about the acreage the average buck will use, and that will be wherever the buck feels most comfortable. It won't be a perfect square or rectangle. It could look like a jigsaw puzzle, because the buck wants to maximize his time in that home range to find the best food, water, protection and reproductive possibilities while also staying safe. The latter may be his primary concern almost the entire time between late summer and when his antlers drop while he's amid the different stages of the rut.

Bucks become familiar with this home range and will venture out into it from his core area. Bucks tend to gravitate to the place with a superior, safe area where they can hang out to find food, water, does and protective cover. Makes sense, right? And then he begins roaming and looking around during autumn, whether it's a different area because he was driven out for some reason or he's amid his search for does in estrous. But just because he showed up suddenly doesn't mean he's never been around there before. You may not have ever seen him because he's just that smart!

Steve Bartylla explains this fascinating part of deer biology in greater detail in this episode of Grow 'em Big.

Grow 'em Big: The Reason Deer Show Up Out of Nowhere and Surprise Hunters. Season 3, Episode 26