Whitetail Hunting photo

by Steven Hill

Most deer hunters would gladly cut to the chase–the chasing phase of the rut, that is–because when bucks begin running does, there’s an excellent chance of seeing them on their feet. Results from the latest research in doe movement and behavior show why staying on stand can help you put those bucks on the ground:

#1 – Does are Homebodies
We all know that bucks roam widely during the rut. But GPS studies prove that does have much smaller home ranges and cling to their turf more stubbornly, even under breeding or hunting pressure. “Does have tremendous fidelity to their homes,” says deer researcher Grant Woods. “You can’t force them out; they’ll double back and run right through a drive line.” They also tend to circle within their home area when bucks chase them during the rut, much like rabbits chased by hounds.

Bottom Line: If a buck chases a doe past you within shooting range, but you don’t get a shot, stay put and ready yourself for the return trip. When the action takes place out of range, take advantage of the commotion to position yourself in a better spot. Then wait.

#2 – Does Choose Bucks
In the whitetail mating dance, the doe picks her partner. One theory holds that the courting chase facilitates this selection. By leading a male on a run all through the woods, a female tests his fitness for breeding. Another theory contends that a noisy chase gets the attention of other bucks in the area–nature’s way of ensuring that the doe has attracted the most dominant buck available.

Bottom Line: If you see a small buck chasing a doe, stick around. It may not be long before a bigger one shows up.