Why Do Bucks Disappear During Hunting Season?
Kevin Felts 11.25.19
It never fails, and chances are some of the readers have experienced this phenomenon: Before hunting season trail cameras will take pictures of nice bucks. Whether the pics are taken during the day or at night, at least we have photo evidence showing a buck is in the area.
Then hunting season comes along and the buck disappears. We may find a random scrape or rub, but that is about it. No more pictures on the trail camera; we sit in the stand for hours and do not see a single buck. So what happened, where did the bucks go?
Some people say it is hunting pressure or hunters leaving their scent around the stand and feeders. There may be some truth to that. For the first few weeks after opening weekend, the woods are full of new scents and sounds. The typically quiet forest is filled with sounds of trucks, trailers, and ATVs. However, those are probably not what caused the buck on your trail camera to disappear. Chances are it was the rut that made your buck run off.
Bucks are similar to hormonal teenage boys — all they care about is chasing does. Why do our male dogs disappear when a female dog goes into heat? Because animals are hardwired to reproduce. While a buck may have a normal routine when the rut is not going on, all bets are off when does goes into estrus.
In other animals such as dogs we call this as “being in heat.” When a nearby female dog goes into heat a male dog may go missing for several days. All the dog can think about is mating with the female, and whitetail deer are the same way. Just as a dog will leave its home for days at a time chasing a female, a whitetail buck will leave its normal territory while does are in estrus.
Where does this mean?
We know bucks are chasing does during the rut. So if we know when the rut has subsided, then we know when bucks will return to their normal range and routine. This can save us time and frustration. Rather than sitting in a stand and rarely seeing a buck, we can plan our stand-sitting time based on the rut.
Will there be the occasional buck during the rut? Sure there will. But when the buck who has been in the trail camera through the summer months suddenly disappears, now you may have an idea as to why.