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I did not get to spend much time in the woods this year due to tagging out early. I very much enjoy studying deer behavior, especially mature bucks. The best thing about deer hunting is that I believe you can hunt for a lifetime and still learn something new every year. As I've sat around and reflected on years past I have been curious about one behavior specifically. I'm sure we have all had a big buck spook at some point in our bowhunting careers, it sucks. I've had more than my fair shares, especially when I was starting out. I observed in a few occasions a big mature buck become spooked be it scent, sight, or sound. On all of these occasions the buck become more aware, which turned into a stare down. The uncommon thing is that the bu ks never snorted, stomped, or even raised a tail. They all tucked their tail, and snuck out as quietely and cautiously as possible. In some cases their were other deer with them that were unaware. Its as if these older bucks were only concerned with themselves, no effort to warn the herd. I found it odd, smart, selfish, and uncommon from typical deer behavior. I understand bucks don't grow big by being dumb, just wondering if anyone else has seen the same behavior. What better place to ask than AT!
 

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Yup. I missed one of the biggest deer I've ever seen this past fall. As soon as my arrow went under him he ran to a hill directly downwind of me and from there he left without saying good bye. Things happened so quickly that it took awhile for me to realize why he reacted the way he did. Bummed he'll never hang on my wall but just glad it happened. Impressive creatures
 

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HERE'S ONE THING THAT GOES RIGHT TO WHAT YOUR POSTING.

when we go yote hunting ,we drive the sections out ,1mile squares.
you can just watch the deer and what they do....somewhat predictable.

but,if there's a buck,especially a mature buck he will always break away from the rest.
if the herd is running west out of the section they will avoid corners and stay away from the fence rows. they will continue to go west but right out across the middle of the fields.
now that big buck will take off on his own. he might come out of the woods,last one of course,but will turn and go north or south and even right back around the drivers.
I've seen this many,many times. he is his own boss!

I,ve even seen him go out in the middle of a field and lay down in some weeds or anything he can find and let all the rest run out.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
HERE'S ONE THING THAT GOES RIGHT TO WHAT YOUR POSTING.

when we go yote hunting ,we drive the sections out ,1mile squares.
you can just watch the deer and what they do....somewhat predictable.

but,if there's a buck,especially a mature buck he will always break away from the rest.
if the herd is running west out of the section they will avoid corners and stay away from the fence rows. they will continue to go west but right out across the middle of the fields.
now that big buck will take off on his own. he might come out of the woods,last one of course,but will turn and go north or south and even right back around the drivers.
I've seen this many,many times. he is his own boss!

I,ve even seen him go out in the middle of a field and lay down in some weeds or anything he can find and let all the rest run out.
Never guessed I would receive this type of useful deer behavior observations from a coyote hunter hah. From my experience, bucks seem to go from a pack animal to a lone wolf as they mature. From the time they are born up to 2.5 they obey their natural instinct of safety in numbers that is engraved into most animals dna. At some point they abandon this instict. I am curious as to why. Is it a biological transformation or have they actually learned from experiences. I tend to think they learn survival methods om encounters because they do some pretty ingenious things.
 

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I"ve noticed they stay put a lot longer than most. Cant count the amount of bucks i've walked up on and jumped within 20 yards. usually doe and younger bucks seem to jump a little further out.
 

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They also know when you can't see them and know they are safe. I bow hunted a big Muley this year, and he is an old buck that I have history with.

I take a quad close to the area I hunt, but what I never knew is he moved his bedding area this year. He moved it up the hill a 1/2 mile or so. So every time I walked in I went right by him. He never spooked or nothin. As much as they hate pressure, they will hold tight when they know that pressure doesn't know where they are.
 

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Discussion Starter #8
They also know when you can't see them and know they are safe. I bow hunted a big Muley this year, and he is an old buck that I have history with.

I take a quad close to the area I hunt, but what I never knew is he moved his bedding area this year. He moved it up the hill a 1/2 mile or so. So every time I walked in I went right by him. He never spooked or nothin. As much as they hate pressure, they will hold tight when they know that pressure doesn't know where they are.
Similar experience. Had the guide drop a few guys off to stand hunt and we jumped a group of speed goats and mulie does as the truck was stopping. I peaked over the hill and glassed first and immediately spotted a big 6x5 still bedded, couldn't miss that big head gear stairing at me. My father missed him after a stalk but 2 days later same spot, same exact scenario. This time my buddy stuck him at 17yds. He didn't want to leave the area, even after getting jumped 2 days prior
 

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when a mature buck is with a group of younger deer it seem that he stays in the middle of the group and use them as a shield. or he use them as a
look out for danger. those you're my deer behavior observations.
 

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Yeah those old ones hardly ever jump out of their skin like the younger ones do, unless you get right next to them. One thing they do alot is make a loop before bedding so they can watch their back trail. I see this all the time tracking. When he starts meandering around & browsing, you'd better be going real slow & watching off to the sides because that's where he'll bust from more often than not. That's when they really blow out of there, then you got a job.

Early season this year I had the one I was after bedded down with two smaller bucks. When the sun popped up over the tree line he got up, turned around so he was looking away from the sun & laid back down facing me in the tree. I could only see him when the wind blew some leaves to the side. One of those times I was ranging him at 36-37 yds. thinking that when he stands back up & if he stops perfectly in an opening that I can make that shot..weird distance though. Well I don't know if he caught a glint from the rangefinder or me moving, but he got up & stared death rays at me for about 20 seconds..totally busted. He just turned & trotted slowly down the hollow, leaving the other smaller bucks looking around wondering what just happened.

We used to do some driving in Canada & would always post a backdoor man close to where the drive starts. We'd space out far enough to just be able to see the guys next to us & go slow. More than a few times an old buck would just lay there till we got even or just past, then go back the way we just came. The backdoor man was in business then. Never saw a doe or young buck do this.

They sure can make you look stupid sometimes.
 

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I was tagged out on bucks a few years ago, and had a nice 8 point come about 20 yards behind me, so I just watched him. He got to my trail where I walked in, stuck his nose to ground, and jerked his head up. For ten minutes the only thing that moved was his head, looking left, then right. Then he turned, walked right back in his tracks where he had just come from, and never made a sound. Made me wonder how many bucks cross our trail in the woods and sneak away without making a sound that we never know about, as opposed to a doe that stands there and blows her head off.
 

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Yep.. Sometimes they stall so long I almost forget they are there and rarely it seems they do anything other than slip out without a sound.
 

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The deer around here are heavily pressured during gun season because we Have small wood lots and they drive them all out. At least they think they drive them all out. I'm not so sure that some bucks stay hunkered down. But any way, when I see them get a pack pushed out, if there is a buck with them, he doesn't leave the bunch, but will always take up the rear. The does are as smart as the bucks I believe. They will lead the pack out across the middle of a field, avoiding any where near a corner, and if they come to a fencerow, they will pick the most open place, or run up close to a house if there is one there, to cross. But the buck always stays last, and when they get to the next wood lot, they all stop out in the field a ways to survey the new woods before entering. The does go in first, and the bucks follow.
 

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Deer behavior fascinates me, especially the old boys. I know little is learned from yearlings and 1.5yr old deer which is why you have some hunters bragging up their successes and believing deer are dumb. I still look at each deer as a potential learning experience even when I know their instinct and intelligence has not been honed yet. It is the mature bucks that have had human encounters and has made himself elusive that I want to study more. And I agree about the does. If I have a buck/doe encounter I look at it as I just have to beat the doe. From my experience, her alertness and senses are much more keen when bucks and does are together. Does don't have other things on their mind like the bucks that are with them. Where the doe goes, the buck will follow. Mature bucks become very elusive and independant in their old age, but I believe a mature doe is just as hard if not harder to fool. Does are more skiddish by nature imo... One of my favorite sights in the woods is watching a big mature buck slow trailing a doe or responding to a rattle. The way he manuverse through the thick brush, slowly twisting and ducking his head to fit his rack through the sapplings and pausing to look around. Just gives me the chills thinking about it
 

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Deer behavior fascinates me, especially the old boys. I know little is learned from yearlings and 1.5yr old deer which is why you have some hunters bragging up their successes and believing deer are dumb. I still look at each deer as a potential learning experience even when I know their instinct and intelligence has not been honed yet. It is the mature bucks that have had human encounters and has made himself elusive that I want to study more. And I agree about the does. If I have a buck/doe encounter I look at it as I just have to beat the doe. From my experience, her alertness and senses are much more keen when bucks and does are together. Does don't have other things on their mind like the bucks that are with them. Where the doe goes, the buck will follow. Mature bucks become very elusive and independant in their old age, but I believe a mature doe is just as hard if not harder to fool. Does are more skiddish by nature imo... One of my favorite sights in the woods is watching a big mature buck slow trailing a doe or responding to a rattle. The way he manuverse through the thick brush, slowly twisting and ducking his head to fit his rack through the sapplings and pausing to look around. Just gives me the chills thinking about it
100% agree. I have have been busted way more times in a tree by a mature doe than a mature buck.
From my observations...what intrigues me the most is the complete random nature of these bucks. In my opinion, its what keeps them alive more than anything else. As soon as the velvet comes off, within a week or two, random seems to shift into high gear. I was chasing a mature deer in September last year...100's of pictures of him. BUT no sort of pattern whatsoever. I had more pics of him showing up at 11:00am than him showing up right before dark. He moved all over...random. He would move into one area, get tons of pics of him there and then he would show up 3/4 mile away somewhere else.

He ended up getting killed by someone who came in for an observation hunt ...killed him 200yds from where I was sitting that night. I had just put a camera up in this area and was trying to figure out where this deer was spending time. Got pics of the deer at 8am --- guy killed it that evening in the same area. Killed it walking down a 4 wheeler trail.

And the random nature of these bucks makes it appear as if they know what is going on and completely leave an area. Like they are incredibly smart and can reason. But in reality they just chose to move and bed in another spot -- they move to different food. Then they may come back or they may not. I get pics of some deer in September (areas you cannot hunt in Sept) and bucks are showing up in daylight daylight daylight....as the season nears and the velvet is off, they shift. Go from multiple daylight pics to not even showing up on camera for a month. And it had nothing to do with pressure. Nothing changed. And the very same year, another buddy has a mature buck show up 5 days in a row at the same apple tree -- killed it the first night on stand.

Here in the Northeast, tracking deer on snow is a big deal. I personally do not do it...but have friends that do. Its nothing to get on a big buck track and have it straight line walk for 3+ miles. Deer wander ...checking doe groups...sometimes not checking doe groups. Sometimes picking beds that make sense, other times picking beds that make no sense at all.
 

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I was bowhunting one time and watch a group of hunters doing a drive thru my bino's. Watched as one buck separared himself from a group of deer and head towards a patch of cattails along the loke they were driving near. He ducked into those cattails and submerged himself so only his head was above water and let the drivers walk right by then slowly got out and went right back where he came from! I was amazed at how slick this buck was. Age was approximately 3 1/2 to 4 1/2 years. "Smarter than your average bear BOOBOO!" lol

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I"ve noticed they stay put a lot longer than most. Cant count the amount of bucks i've walked up on and jumped within 20 yards. usually doe and younger bucks seem to jump a little further out.
Yep, I've seen does and young bucks burst out 50-75 yds ahead making a ton of racket, however most bucks I believe will wait until the very last second to run. I also believe they will wait for you to pass whether that be 10 yards or 100 and then quietly slip away.

In essence, this is very smart of a mature buck.
1. If he doesn't bolt, whatever predator is coming (or hunter) might pass without incident.
2. Staying put longer and not snorting, blowing, crashing through the woods doesn't let any predator know that they are, or were there.

I often wonder how many big deer I've walked right by who just casually snuck off as I wondered on.
 

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Guys should also pay attention to to how a mature buck at least 4 1/2 moves thru an area compared to the rest of the herd. They almost always stay to the upwind side of all other deer knowing that area is or has been wind checked by the other deer. 20 to 30 yards upwind keeps them in areas that they know to be safe based on the other deer that passed thru first.
 

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Good thread! It was late October 2014 and I had gotten off work early and planned on heading to the stand. I got there at 4:30 which left me 2 hours to hunt. I was set up in a intersection where a grass field, crp field, cedar thicket, and a block of hardwoods met. A few minutes after I settled in my climber I decided to blind grunt to cover any noise I may have made while climbing. I let out three short grunts and all the sudden the thicket at my 4 o'clock explodes!!! A 4pt (1.5yo), 8pt(2.5yo), and huge 10pt (4.5+yo)busted out to confront the intrusion of my calls. I had the wind directly in my face but it swirled for just a moment. Immediately the mature buck froze on pins and needles. The other two bucks began stomping and headed bobing trying to pick me off. This mature buck was at 28 yards just two steps shy of my shooting lane for 6 minutes . The only movement he made was constantly licking his nose to try and amplify the smell. He watched that 4pt and 8pt as they maneuvered directly into my shooting lanes and continued on out to the field. He however turned around and completly silently went back down the exact spot in the thicket.


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