Summer Lockdown

Should I worry that I am not seeing shooter bucks right now?

Summer Lockdown
A week after setting up the new camera, the author capture two nice bucks that would become “home bodies” through the entire deer season. (Jeremy Flinn photo)

With the season just on the horizon, deer hunters are now becoming more engaged with their hunting areas. From trail cameras to sitting on crop fields and food plots, the “pre” hunt is on for their target bucks. For some, it will happen fast. Locking in on the buck they were looking forward to seeing this year. But for many of us, it is not that simple. In fact, not only are many hunters not seeing their prize buck, they aren’t seeing any shooter bucks whatsoever. Bottom line is we know they are there, but even the army of trail cameras can’t locate them. So the question at hand is, should you be worried?

No matter if your season starts at the beginning of September or October, the answer is simple … no. This isn’t some kind of “Big Buck Therapy” lesson; it’s a simple explanation of what is going on in the deer world during this time of year. Regardless of if you are in “Big Ag” or “Big Woods” country, a buck’s home range, the area in which he spends at least 95 percent of its time, is the smallest it will be all year.

When the author first set up the trail camera and attractant in the new site, he only caught fawns (like this one), does and small bucks. (Jeremy Flinn photo)
When the author first set up the trail camera and attractant in the new site, he only caught fawns (like this one), does and small bucks. (Jeremy Flinn photo)

Before we get into the fine details of the area a buck is covering during this part of the year, it is worth mentioning that just because you spend every night on a soybean or alfalfa field or because you have a camera for every 50 acres on the property, does not mean you will see all the bucks in the area. In actuality, if you see 60 percent of them you are doing pretty well.


Why is that? Well, scouting is a lot like hunting. You don’t see all the bucks in an area when you sit in a stand do you? Even with trail cameras, it still takes bringing a buck into a 40-foot-by-40-foot area to trigger the camera for a picture. Sure attractants and bait help, but also you are combatting lush native vegetation, acres of crop land, and even in the desert-like areas of Texas, you can catch a summer thunderstorm that will explode native foods.


But the big factor at play is the way bucks are moving and behaving. During this time of year bucks, even mature shooters, will rarely have a home range greater than 300 acres in most wooded and agricultural landscapes. That still may seem like a lot to most of us. But then narrow it down even further and say that on average, research shows that these bucks will spend at least 50 percent of their time in less than 35 acres. Now your “one camera per 50 acres” doesn’t seem so overkill, does it?

Also, at this time of year bucks are in bachelor groups. Although you may see a “mixed bag” of ages, my personal observations tend to show one-and-a-half- and two-and-a-half-year-olds together, and three-and-a-half-plus-year-olds together. So when I start to see a three-and-a-half-year-old on camera, there is a good chance the ones I am looking for are not too far away.

And don’t expect to throw out mineral, attractant, or shelled corn that day, and get a shooter on the camera that night. If it is a new area, it may take a week or more just for a buck to cruise out of his 35-acre comfort zone and find it.

Here is the good news; it’s only going to get better. As bachelor groups split up and soft, velvet antlers turn to white, polished racks, bucks’ home ranges will begin to expand rapidly, often doubling or tripling in size. New bucks will begin to show up on camera, some of which will become “home bodies” others will disappear as fast as they showed.


But that is why it’s called hunting. The pursuit and challenge is where all the fun is at. So stop worrying about what you are or aren’t, seeing right now. It won’t be long before you have so many choices, you won’t know which shooter to hunt!

GET THE NEWSLETTER Join the List and Never Miss a Thing.

Recommended Articles

See More Recommendations

Popular Videos

How to Catch Summertime

How to Catch Summertime's Deepwater Crappie

On windy summer days when the crappie have gone to deep-water brush piles, what tips and tricks are necessary to catch a limit of slabs? In this episode of Outdoors with Ole Pops, Jeff Williams shows you how to combine the right boat, trolling motor, and electronics package to catch fish on water bodies like Oklahoma's Grand Lake. Simply pull up on a brush pile, turn the electronics on, lower your minnow and Fle-Fly light wire circle hook into the school below, watch the strike on a Garmin Panoptix LiveScope unit, and start reeling in!

To learn more and to purchase Fle-Fly tackle, click here to visit their website.

Tackle Test 2020: Lew

Tackle Test 2020: Lew's Pro-Ti Speed Stick

Tackle Test 2020: Lew's Pro-Ti Speed Stick

Abu Garcia Zenon Spinning Reels

Abu Garcia Zenon Spinning Reels

New to the North American market comes the 'world's lightest spinning reel.'

New from Old Town: Sportsman Autopilot 136 and Discovery 119 Solo Sportsman

New from Old Town: Sportsman Autopilot 136 and Discovery 119 Solo Sportsman

Brand ambassador Ryan Lilly highlights the features of the Old Town AutoPilot 136 motorized kayak and the Discovery 119 Solo Sportsman canoe.

See More Popular Videos

Trending Articles

Quick look at common, easy-to-catch fish species (video). Other Freshwater

Get On Board: Species 101 for Beginning Anglers

Game & Fish Staff

Quick look at common, easy-to-catch fish species (video).

The colder waters of early spring are prime times to use these proven bait rigs for stripers. Striper & Hybrid

3 Proven Bait Rigs for Stripers

J.B. Kasper

The colder waters of early spring are prime times to use these proven bait rigs for stripers.

Shad are a big part of the catfish angler's arsenal, as long as you can catch a few that is. Fishing How-To

How to Use Electronics to Catch Baitfish

Game & Fish Staff

Shad are a big part of the catfish angler's arsenal, as long as you can catch a few that is.

As most catfish anglers know, blue cats, channel cats and flatheads will eat darn near anything that fits in their mouths. Catfish

5 Ways To Catch Catfish on Lures

Keith Sutton

As most catfish anglers know, blue cats, channel cats and flatheads will eat darn near...

See More Trending Articles

More Whitetail

Sight Savvy: Different styles of bow sights each have their strengths—and weaknesses. Bows

How to Pick the Right Bow Sight for You

Tony Hansen - August 25, 2020

Sight Savvy: Different styles of bow sights each have their strengths—and weaknesses.

Field Skills: Want to be a better shooter? The first step is perfecting your release. Hunting How-To

6 Steps to the Perfect Trigger Pull on Your Compound Bow

Jace Bauserman - August 27, 2020

Field Skills: Want to be a better shooter? The first step is perfecting your release.

If you're like a lot of deer hunters, you probably hunt out of the same stands every season. You might want to re-think things. Whitetail

Take a New (Deer) Stand for Fall Hunting

Mike Marsh - July 09, 2020

If you're like a lot of deer hunters, you probably hunt out of the same stands every season....

Advice can be tough to follow when a whitetail is on the ground. Whitetail

The Shakes: When a 6-Pointer Becomes a 3-Pointer

Jeff Johnston

Advice can be tough to follow when a whitetail is on the ground.

See More Whitetail

GET THE MAGAZINE Subscribe & Save

Digital Now Included!

SUBSCRIBE NOW

Give a Gift   |   Subscriber Services

PREVIEW THIS MONTH'S ISSUE

GET THE NEWSLETTER Join the List and Never Miss a Thing.

Get Digital Access.

All Game & Fish subscribers now have digital access to their magazine content. This means you have the option to read your magazine on most popular phones and tablets.

To get started, click the link below to visit mymagnow.com and learn how to access your digital magazine.

Get Digital Access

Not a Subscriber?
Subscribe Now