We’ve all seen the shows of mature bucks charging in for a fight in rural America, after hearing the rattling chaos of a battle. Big, mature bucks displaying the aggressive behavior that makes them the dominant resident on campus. And we’ve all read the countless articles on dominate buck behavior and how to harvest that king of our hunting woods. So what if we were told that more often than not the timid buck; the one who is hesitant and scared, is probably the biggest buck in our suburban hunting spot?
Dominance kills in suburban America. It’s as simple as that. Aggressive behavior like a chaotic commitment to run does across interstate highways and through parking lots is what gets deer killed. The active response to fighting other whitetails will get a deer killed. Even just the curious mentality of taking that extra couple of looks to figure out what something, or someone is kills deer. The reasons are endless while coupled with the countless hazards of suburban America but there is one that is more prevalent than others.
Most hunters are hunting with that aggressive buck mentality. That’s what we are taught as hunters through mainstream hunting media, as well as the folklore image of the big dominant bucks that haunt our dreams. That idea is embedded in us and as a result it has made the timid buck not just overlooked but often misunderstood.
We enter many hunting situations assuming the biggest buck on camera is making all the scrapes and rubs in an area. It’s a possibility that it is in fact not him and that we are looking at the situation all wrong.
Now we can debate which came first the chicken or the egg, but what we do know is timid personalities happen, and it makes for mature bucks. As hunters we need to consider the theory of timid buck behavior when pursuing our potential target.
There are many indicating factors that can give us insight on this behavior. Mature bucks that maintain almost purely nocturnal behavior even during the rut may be timid. Whitetails that we visibly watch stay away from sparring deer, or shy at the signs of a doe in heat are most likely timid.
So what does this all mean? It means we must change our approach on a buck of this personality. We need to consider where these cautious animals are most vulnerable. Bucks with this unique behavior can be some of most challenging and frustrating whitetails to hunt; but they’ll well worth the harvest in the end.
I often look back and rack my brain on whitetails that I may have had all wrong. The ones where dominance was probably not a trait, and in many cases a decoy in my whole train of thought, that often resulted in failure. Every whitetail we approach, we must analyze for signs of timid behavior and adapt our methodology to account for these once in a lifetime bucks.