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Home >> Hunting >> Deer >> Social Behavior << Back

Deer Social Behavior

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A deer's behavior is directly related to the environment he lives and interacts in. With today's growing suburban areas whitetails and people are having to live side-by-side. Our houses, roads and everyday comings and goings impact where and when deer feed, travel and bed.

American Indians believed the moon, wind and rain affected deer movements. Current studies confirm that deer activity indeed varies depending on temperature, moon phases and even barometric pressure.

Whitetails, especially mature bucks, are active at night, preferring to feed, mingle and mate under a cloak of darkness. But no deer is completely nocturnal. Otherwise, we'd never have a shot at a trophy buck! Deer remain active at dawn and start to move again at dusk.

You will find that deer typically bed down at midday. Studies have shown that they rarely if ever bed in the same exact spot twice; in order to possibly deter a predator from locking on their scent and lying in wait for an easy meal the next day. Deer never sleep for long periods of time. Rather, they dose, always trying to stay alert.

Although whitetails are social animals that are found in herds, the sexes stay largely divided. Outside the breeding season, a mature buck almost never stays with a "doe unit", or a group of does and fawns. Bucks travel alone or band together in bachelor's clubs for most of the year.

Whitetails communicate with vocalizations and scents. For example, a buck trailing a doe in the rut might utter the "tending grunt." She might bleat back. A buck rub-urinates in a scrape, peeing over his tarsal glands to lay down scent that might attract a doe or challenge another male. The deer still facinates and mystifies us enough to warrant further study.

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