Mature Buck Strategies

When Will Deer Patterns Return?

deer patterns

The white flag waves and with a loud snort he is on the run! As his enormous antlers plummet behind the hardwood ridge as quickly as they appeared, the rollercoaster of discovery to excitement to loss, ultimately creates the sinking feeling that he is gone for good. Will deer patterns return to normal during the season on your land, after a monster has been spooked?

*Make sure to check out my whitetail book series including, "Whitetail Success By Design" and "Food Plot Success By Design", to help you find mature bucks this hunting season!

Each and every year a familiar deer pattern returns on some of the best of mature buck habitats:

1. Great deer sightings during the Summer
2. Decent #s during the early bow season
3. A slight drop by mid October
4. A small flurry during the rut
5. Disappointing observations during the gun season opener
6. Barely a track in the snow, during December

-Does that pattern of deer use sound familiar on your land?

Well established deer patterns return, but it takes time. Each February I visit "deerless" parcels of land for clients and something consistently has taken place: DEER, and lots of them! There is a reason deer patterns return again, and it doesn't have as much to do with high quality food or cover as you may think.

deer patterns

*In my experience Hunting Pressure is the #1 reason that deer seek greener pastures. How can you keep this from happening? I invite you to check out "Reducing Hunting Pressure: Following a Non Hunters Example".

Will He Ever Return To His Patterns?

About the time that late January and February rolls around, an interesting phenomenon has taken place on many deer parcels: It is the first time that hunters have not been on the land for more than 2 weeks, since September. In fact, because zero deer sightings led to a reduced passion to hunt by late December, the land sat unpressured and human free for nearly 5 weeks. And WOW, what a difference a few weeks can make! New rubs, scrapes, deer beds and pellets litter the land because enough weeks of forgiveness have passed, so that the deer herd finally feels welcome enough to return.

deer patterns

*Eliminating the impact of hunting pressure is the most critical component to an effective hunting and habitat plan, but when you combine low pressure techniques with high quality habitat improvements amazing things can happen! Check out what can be accomplished in a high hunter density area on only 40 acres, by reading "40 Acre Michigan Whitetail Habitat Plan".


Deer Patterns return on high quality parcels as soon as the hunting pressure has been eliminated and forgotten. This tells you a couple of things about the priorities of deer management:

1. No amount of habitat improvements can overcome the negative impact of hunting pressure, no matter how high the quality of the improvements
2. Deer patterns will return to normal after a few weeks, but hunters rarely have enough time during the season to overcome costly mistakes

Keeping the white flag from waving in the first place is critical to your success. If you are focusing on creating incredible habitat improvements before reducing the amount of potential hunting pressure on your kand, the deer patterns may not return until it is too late. By focusing on eliminating hunting pressure as a priority, you should be able to consistently promote an increase in rubs, scrapes, deer beds and pellets before the season ends, and not after.

deer patterns

*How can you make deer patterns return to your land, more consistently than any other small parcel in the neighborhood? Try reading, "Buck Management for Small Parcels".


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