It’s difficult to trap a good deer scientist. They leave themselves room to maneuver when you ask them for certainty about deer behavior, a sort of scientific CYA. Good deer scientists say “usually” instead of “always” and “rarely” instead of “never.” When a good “yes” or “no” is what you desire, they say “It depends.” And they should. Though we know a lot about the average deer’s biology and behavior, there are always rare exceptions.
This is the story of an exceptional buck and his mysterious adventure.
A responsible deer scientist will tell you most bucks disperse from their birth range, usually around 1½ years of age, and set up a permanent adult home range which they rarely abandon. That adult home range might have seasonal compartments, but the majority of adult bucks are done with dispersal and will likely die in or near that adult home range. Did you notice my own CYA in italics? Those words are necessary because of bucks like N17003.
By all odds he should not have done this: He left his adult home range in northwest Missouri on November 4, 2017, and traveled 186 miles over 22 days, an average of more than 8 miles per day. That distance in a straight line could have taken the buck across the entire width of northern Missouri and well into Illinois. As it was, the straight-line distance from start to finish of 134 miles is more than five times the next closest adult buck dispersal movement in scientific records, 25 miles. The map below shows the entire trip.
Read the full story by Lindsay Thomas, Jr. via the National Deer Association website here.
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