Springfield — With one shotgun season behind them and another fast approaching, deer hunters miffed by the sudden absence of that buck they kept tabs on all summer can find peace of mind from the newest slice of science.
It’s not you, it’s him.
According to Clint McCoy, a typical buck’s range increases from 2.5 miles a day during the pre-rut to roughly 3.5 miles per day during the rut.
“So even with relatively small home ranges, bucks still moved considerable distances on a daily basis related to breeding,” pointed out McCoy, a graduate student at Auburn University who outfitted 40 male white-tailed deer and tracked their movements to come up with those average ranges.
For Illinois hunters preparing for the second firearms and the first muzzleloader seasons – both take place Dec. 4-7 – the takeaway from McCoy’s analysis is to be patient and stay vigilant.
Your buck, be he young or old, is likely out there – somewhere.
“Age apparently did not play a role in determining the size of a buck’s home range in our study, and as previous studies have documented, buck movements are largely driven by their own ‘personalities’ – some bucks tend to cover large areas while others are content to stay close to home,” McCoy said. “To further illustrate that point, take two of our 4½-year-old bucks – one had a home range of 521 acres, the other only 108 acres.”
More details from McCoy’s study will appear in the Dec. 12 issue of Illinois Outdoor News.
Meanwhile, speaking of bucks, Illinois’ first firearms season produced fairly standard results. But the state’s bowhunters appear to be having little problem finding male deer during the rut. In a harvest report by DNR, it was revealed that in a one-week period in mid-November archers had taken 66 percent bucks and 34 percent does.
As of Nov. 20, bowhunters had harvested a total of 46,200 deer – slightly ahead of last year’s pace. Of that total, 24,908 were bucks and 21,292 were does.
The top harvesting counties were Pike (1,809), Fulton (1,318), Jefferson (1,134), Adams (1,014) and Jo Daviess (981).
With corn harvest 95 percent complete and brisk temperatures blanketing much of the state, the first firearms season provided solid deer movement for hunters. The second gun season is expected to feature similar conditions.
December portions of the deer season will also include the muzzleloader-only season (Dec. 12-14) and the open crossbow season, which runs from Dec. 8 through the end of the regular archery season (Jan. 18).
Absent again this year up and down the state are deer check-in stations, except in the 10 northern counties where chronic wasting disease has been detected. Hunters in those counties are required to register all deer harvested during the second firearms season by taking them to check stations between 8 a.m. and 8 p.m.
The counties where hunters are required to check in their deer at check stations are:
- Boone: Boone County Fairgrounds
- DeKalb: Shabbona Lake State Park, 4201 Shabbona Grove Road in Shabbona
- Grundy: Gebhard Woods State Park/I&M Canal Trail, 401 Ottawa St. in Morris
- Jo Daviess: Elizabeth Community Building, 210 N. West St. in Elizabeth
- Kane: Shabbona Lake State Park, 4201 Shabbona Grove Road in Shabbona
- La Salle: Buffalo Rock State Park, three miles west of Ottawa on Dee Bennett Road
- McHenry: Moraine Hills State Park, east of McHenry on River Road, 2.2 miles south of Rt. 120
- Ogle: Castle Rock State Park, Rt. 2, 3 mi. south of Oregon
- Stephenson: Stephenson County Fairgrounds
- Winnebago: Rock Cut State Park, Loves Park, (Rt. 173 entrance).