Understanding Buck Bachelor-Groups
Below is some very informative information regarding whitetail deer biology specific to Buck Bachelor Groups by the Quality Deer Management Association.¬† We have all seen these bachelor groups in some form.¬† I have recently experienced a group of bucks on our North Georgia Farm.¬† We have seen five different bucks in this group with several 1.5 to 2.5 year old bucks with several 3.5 year old bucks in the 140 inch range.¬† With two bucks that are ~4.5 years old between 160 to 170 inches.¬† It has been interesting to watch the behavior of these bucks based on maturity and the way these bucks dictate what occurs in this group.¬† It can be very exciting to watch these bucks during the summer and develop a “hit list” for the upcoming season.¬† The other valuable part of watching/monitoring your bachelor groups is seeing the classes of bucks in the herd.¬† If you know you have some more mature bucks you can feel more comfortable to pass on the younger bucks during the season.¬† You do not have to shoot a less than mature deer because you think that is the best deer on the property. ¬† We will begin to develop some early season strategies based on deer movement and how these bucks are entering the food plot fields.¬† In my experience the first week of bow season can be almost as exciting as the rut.¬† You have a really good chance of harvesting a mature buck before he goes nocturnal.
With that said do not overlook the fundamentals such as moon phase/feeding times, wind and scent control.¬† This can be easier said than done due to the hot temperatures.¬† Some tips to consider are waiting to get fully dressed until you get to the tree stand (ie wait to put jacket on). Once you get into the stand use some scent control wet wipes to clean areas of body that have high level of sweat.¬† Spraying yourself with scent control spray such as Lethal Scent Control or Dead Down Wind once you are in the stand as well.
By QDMA Staff
If you are monitoring local whitetails during summer through the lenses of your binoculars, or through the lens of a trail-camera, you’ve probably seen what are known as “bachelor groups.” These are groups of bucks that travel together during the spring and summer and generally follow the same movement schedule of bedding and feeding. Bachelor groups may contain bucks of many different ages, including yearlings (as in the trail-camera photo above, taken by QDMA member Scott Thomas in August 2010). Bucks in an individual bachelor group are usually not related to each other.
We know that bachelor groups form outside of the breeding season, when antlers are absent or growing, and when buck testosterone levels are at their annual low point. Bucks in bachelor groups get along well and even groom each other, but they still establish a basic “pecking order” within the group using aggressive physical displays, vocalizations, or sometimes hoof-flailing. As day-length begins to shorten, testosterone levels begin to rise, triggering the hardening of antlers and shedding of velvet. At this point, aggression within the group rises, and bucks begin to spar using their new antlers. Sparring is usually not serious and often involves bucks of widely differing age. As the rut approaches and testosterone continues to rise, bucks gradually become less tolerant of each other, and the bachelor groups break apart. Research has shown that the average buck begins using a larger percentage of its established home range as the rut approaches, so movement patterns and locations of each buck in a bachelor group may change radically after the group dis-bands. Thus, patterning a bachelor group may be useful where archery or firearms seasons open early enough, but the pattern will fade quickly¬†in the pre-rut period.
There are several potential survival advantages of forming bachelor groups. Forming groups may aid in predator avoidance at a time when bucks are relatively defenseless because they do not have antlers, or when antlers are growing and vulnerable to damage. Also, bachelor groups may allow local bucks to establish
a basic dominance hierarchy through mild forms of aggression, which may reduce the amount of serious fighting necessary later – when bucks can be injured critically or killed.
Of course, bachelor groups aren’t likely to be seen in areas where few bucks survive beyond 1.5 or 2.5 years of age. When harvest pressure is reduced on yearling bucks through QDM, numbers of older bucks will increase over time, increasing your likelihood of spotting a bachelor group where you hunt.
¬©Copyright 2011, QDMA
Originally posted 2011-07-25 22:21:40. Republished by Blog Post Promoter