Mainstream hunting media is full of factually sound and well researched knowledge on Whitetail behavior like a standard of a buck core area. For instance, the common agreement in the industry is that a Whitetail buck core area will be approximately 1 square mile for their entire life. I have no intentions on debating what I feel is a very relevant theory in rural areas.
That idea stems from uninterrupted patterns, a consistent environment, and normal rutting behavior. For myself and millions of other deer hunters in North America, suburban and urban environments are what represent our hunting grounds, and that can change deer behavior drastically. Although Whitetails still have the desire to maintain relatively habitual lifestyles, it is far easier said than done when it comes to suburban bucks.
Like most subjects covered in ‘The Urban Deer Complex’, theories become far more complicated. In this case, core areas can be vastly shrunk, grown, or abruptly changed. This adds to the already seemingly impossible skill of patterning a mature Whitetail.
In my book, The Urban Deer Complex, I explain three very distinct personalities mature suburban bucks can develop over time. My favorite, ‘The Pocket Ghost’, represents a deer that uses a small suburban pocket of woods as its primary buck core area. They are often just that- ghosts. They restrict much movement to darkness as their regular core area consists of people’s yards and other human-developed features.
This article is not meant for you to perfect advanced tactics on such a Whitetail, or the more regularly patterned buck ‘The Swamp Monster’. (For that you can reference my book on suburban hunting). This is meant to bring to light one of the most frustrating and impossible truths in suburban and urban deer hunting- the rut.
The rut, as we all know it, is a frenzy of reckless deer behavior marked by the consistent chaos that seems completely devoid of reason. Many of us will welcome that window of opportunity for bucks to make their daylight mistakes. That’s all fun and good, and often relies heavily on luck. The tragic and frustrating result is a viciously unforgiving late season.
After the dust settles of all the random chases, mating frenzies, and breeding, deer will return to their core area. Unfortunately in suburban America, what was a run of joyous mating rites now has become a mature buck’s nightmare. That highway they bounded across, parking lot they ran circles in, or the schoolyard they casually passed through (and whatever other human infested obstacle they boldly ventured in the fogged mindset of the rut), has now become an almost impossible challenge.
The now levelheaded buck cannot simply waltz back to its bedding area because what may be a simple one mile trek for a rural giant has now become a gauntlet for your suburban crush. It often renders hunting theories based on bucks returning to core areas in late season useless. Above all it creates a frustration that far too many suburban deer hunters will face this winter. The reality that their well patterned buck may very well not return until after the season, or even more devastating, that their buck has taken up an entirely new core area.
This is the truth about suburban bucks core areas, and it is a theory to consider when making plans to effectively hunt your buck of a lifetime. When presented with the true fear of this potential doom, I will often hunt the early season more aggressively, leaving the idea of the late season redemption a long shot if needed.
I would love to hear any of these core area changes you have experienced, leave comments below.