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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Right or wrong, I've always disputed biologist claims that (all) button bucks relocate to find a new home range to prevent inbreeding within the herd. Too many times (probably 50%) I've known that a BB remained in its original birthing area its entire life. Even when the buck's mother was still alive and continued to be in the area. I'm currently documenting one such buck that I've dubbed "SOCKS." He was born in 2020 to a 2 1/2-year-old doe and he had a twin sister. I've lost track of his sister but his mother is still alive and in the area. (I will target her this winter) For whatever reason, "SOCKS" was born with 4 white hooves. It will be a fun journey following him throughout his life. I hope he lives for several years.

The first picture is of Socks and his sister taken last year. The 2nd picture is a little grainy because I blew it up to better show his feet. He's now carrying his first rack.
Plant Tree Fawn Groundcover Terrestrial animal


Deer Grass Plant Fawn Terrestrial animal
 

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Deer do travel, and sometimes miles outside their home ranges we know that. But wild animals do what they do best, stay alive and promote the gene pool. I know bucks that have been captured on trail cameras miles away and came back before January..
 

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Not all bucks leave their birth home range in their first spring. A few do disperse in the spring but many others will not disperse into a new home range until the fall when they are 1 1/2 years old, with their first hard antlers and the rut is coming on.

This buck will most likely be heading for a new home range in the near future.

Dick Bodenhorn
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Not all bucks leave their birth home range in their first spring. A few do disperse in the spring but many others will not disperse into a new home range until the fall when they are 1 1/2 years old, with their first hard antlers and the rut is coming on.

This buck will most likely be heading for a new home range in the near future.

Dick Bodenhorn
It will be interesting to see which of us is correct. I believe it will not head for a new home range. I could be wrong (that happened once before :D ) but I will definitely update as the year progresses.
 

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Most studies show that about 1/3 disperse at 1 year and another 1/3 disperse at 1.5 years. 1/3 stay in their original home range. Some studies show that if mom is killed, young bucks are more likely to stay in their original home range as well.

Based on that I would say that he about a 66% chance of staying there at this point.
 

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Penn State has done a lot of tracking studies. Their studies are on line. It is interesting how individual deer move about their range and expand to other areas.
 
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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
My personal observations over the past few years don't fall in line with what biologists claim to be the norm when it comes to buck dispersal. Maybe it's caused by herd imbalance or something else unforeseen (to me) in my area, but whatever the reason, I'm certain that at least 50% (or more) of the BB's stay and live where they are born. When you try to discuss it with someone involved with deer management they think you don't know what you're talking about and fall back on data that's a decade old. I don't claim to be smarter than any biologist (or any other person for that matter) but I know what I witness and will form my opinions from that. I'm also old enough to remember when biologists claimed (early 70's) "once a spike - always a spike." For whatever reason things change and this is something that I believe has changed in my area. If nothing else this buck is easily identifiable to everyone so it will be interesting to see if he disappears this fall as @R. S. B. believes or if he stays put as I believe. Of course, neither result will prove anything in the overall scheme of things but it will be fun to monitor.
 

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My 2015 Bradford co. buck has a unique arch in his white throat patch. I have pics of him as a fawn until the day i shot him 5 years later
Homegrown all the way. Our camp is surrounded by 6K acres of gamelands and wood and farms. He was scrapeing and rubbing about 75 acres around us in 2015
 

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My personal observations over the past few years don't fall in line with what biologists claim to be the norm when it comes to buck dispersal. Maybe it's caused by herd imbalance or something else unforeseen (to me) in my area, but whatever the reason, I'm certain that at least 50% (or more) of the BB's stay and live where they are born. When you try to discuss it with someone involved with deer management they think you don't know what you're talking about and fall back on data that's a decade old. I don't claim to be smarter than any biologist (or any other person for that matter) but I know what I witness and will form my opinions from that. I'm also old enough to remember when biologists claimed (early 70's) "once a spike - always a spike." For whatever reason things change and this is something that I believe has changed in my area. If nothing else this buck is easily identifiable to everyone so it will be interesting to see if he disappears this fall as @R. S. B. believes or if he stays put as I believe. Of course, neither result will prove anything in the overall scheme of things but it will be fun to monitor.
How do you observe that BB do not leave? Do you have a tracker on all of them or something to know them from year to year?
 

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There was a button buck by my house last year that was in a set of twins. I watched him almost daily through summer and then sporadically through fall and winter. This summer a small 5 pt is hanging with the same doe group and I am pretty much certain it is him. Just a casual observation.
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
Thanks, @Dogface. This is pretty much the information that I'm currently in disagreement with as it pertains to my area. Not the buck movement patterns of the initial blog from June 23, 2021, but of her dated information source as it pertains to button bucks. https://www.deer.psu.edu/male-dispersal-maybe-they-do-ask-for-directions/ She's pulling this information from a study that transpired 20 years ago (2002) even though it was regurgitated again in 2015. Back then, I agree that the majority of BB's dispersed, but I no longer find that to be the case in my areas (whether others want to believe it or not). Maybe it's overpopulation, maybe it's something else. I would wager that the percentage has reversed over the past 20 years and 75% of BB's now stay in their birthing areas and 25% disperse. Just my own observations from my hunting areas.
 

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Trail cameras and time in the woods.
I would love to know how you can track that with time in the woods and trail cameras. Unless they're like Socks I think it's as good as a guess to know who did and didn't stay. If you have some secret magic how you tell who each button buck is from 0.5 to 1.5 years old then please let me in on how because I would love to be able to keep track as well.
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
I would love to know how you can track that with time in the woods and trail cameras. Unless they're like Socks I think it's as good as a guess to know who did and didn't stay. If you have some secret magic how you tell who each button buck is from 0.5 to 1.5 years old then please let me in on how because I would love to be able to keep track as well.
No secret magic. Just woods time. On the properties that I'm very familiar with, I believe I can identify 75% of the deer upon sight. The whitetail social system dynamic with matriarchal does is directly related to food and the pockets of bedding directly connected to it. Each alpha doe will have her own area for her family group even though multiple family groups may share food sources, and every deer has individual characteristics that are easily discernable once you take the time to learn their personalities. The consensus among most people is that I'm "bat chit" crazy so I no longer try to defend my position, but I know - what I know, and I know what I'm capable of accomplishing with trail cameras so I just smile and fly away over the cuckoo's nest.

It's been said that if there's an apocalypse the last 3 animals to inhabit the earth would be the house rat, coyote, and whitetail deer because of their ability to adapt and change. Since most of the BB dispersal studies that have been completed in PA are decades old, I'm curious how many acres of whitetail habitat PA has lost to development over the past 20 years? Maybe this non-dispersal that I believe I'm witnessing is directly related to habitat if not overpopulation. Perhaps it's a learned trait for better survival rates even if some inbreeding does occur? If 90% of the BB that disperse in a year get killed, suddenly the herd dynamic has changed to favor the non-dispersing BB. Just a theory but I'm just a deer hunter.

Another rabbit hole that (in my opinion) biologists have led us down is that mature bucks do the bulk of the breeding. I don't think so, but again...just a deer hunter.
 

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I’ve noticed in my little area that every year I will have pics of at least 2 or 3 sets of brother and sister 1.5 yr old deer, buck is usually a spike. They will be together until rut then separate, or atleast I don’t see them together or have pics for about a month and then more times then not shortly before rifle season I will see or have pics of them back together again. Now by the time they are 2.5 I can’t think of a time where I can verify they have stayed together.
 

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I don't have a bunch of radio collars on button buck either, but I do have long term food plot areas full of young buck every year. We do not shoot buttons here at all. Any slickhead you want we allow but button buck killing is verboten. After years of protecting them we see large bachelor groups of yearlings, there were 11 in the group I was just watching shred a food plot. I could see 50/50 as reasonable. I also think food and security from an early age will reduce the likelihood of dispersal.
 

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No secret magic. Just woods time. On the properties that I'm very familiar with, I believe I can identify 75% of the deer upon sight. The whitetail social system dynamic with matriarchal does is directly related to food and the pockets of bedding directly connected to it. Each alpha doe will have her own area for her family group even though multiple family groups may share food sources, and every deer has individual characteristics that are easily discernable once you take the time to learn their personalities. The consensus among most people is that I'm "bat chit" crazy so I no longer try to defend my position, but I know - what I know, and I know what I'm capable of accomplishing with trail cameras so I just smile and fly away over the cuckoo's nest.

It's been said that if there's an apocalypse the last 3 animals to inhabit the earth would be the house rat, coyote, and whitetail deer because of their ability to adapt and change. Since most of the BB dispersal studies that have been completed in PA are decades old, I'm curious how many acres of whitetail habitat PA has lost to development over the past 20 years? Maybe this non-dispersal that I believe I'm witnessing is directly related to habitat if not overpopulation. Perhaps it's a learned trait for better survival rates even if some inbreeding does occur? If 90% of the BB that disperse in a year get killed, suddenly the herd dynamic has changed to favor the non-dispersing BB. Just a theory but I'm just a deer hunter.

Another rabbit hole that (in my opinion) biologists have led us down is that mature bucks do the bulk of the breeding. I don't think so, but again...just a deer hunter.
I would agree that I don't think they disperse as much or as often as some of the limited studies suggest. Just wish we had a better way to prove it. We see more than the biologists do in many cases. Our observations may be just as good if not better than theirs more times than we think.
 
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