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HomeDeer Hunting NewsCommon Misconceptions of Whitetails

Author: James L. Bruner

Myth:
A buck always defecates in it’s bed before leaving.

Fact:
This has been stated many times by young and old hunters alike. Think about this for a moment. You have seen literally hundreds of bedding areas and how many times have you seen any waste in those beds? Perhaps given the buck to doe ratio, and the sparse evidence, created the backbone to this myth. It has been noted that a buck urinates in the center of its bed while a doe urinates at the edges. If you feel full of adventure in deciding whether or not a buck slept there you cant take it from there and either feel for moisture or take a good whiff. Good luck.

Myth:
Feces that is clumped together was left by a buck.

Fact:
Well don’t we all wish it were true! The fact is that it only tells you whether or not the deer had a good amount of roughage or fiber in it’s diet. Consequently the waste or defecate could also be adversely affected through health or disease issues. Sorry but all a pile of clumped feces tells you is that a deer was there at one time.

Myth:
Trophy bucks are more elusive than does.

Fact:
Some say true and some say false. My input, take it for what it’s worth now, is that a 5 or 6 year old deer, whether it’s a doe or a buck, are equally elusive. I hear the argument of more people seeing or shooting older does and on that point I do agree. But take into consideration that in some areas the buck to doe ratio can be 15 to 1 and much higher. That number is 15 does to 1 buck and that does not constitute that the buck is a trophy. Debatable but I go with myth.

Myth:
Bucks are smarter and more careful than does.

Fact:
Do I need to mention a two week, or more, period when all hell breaks loose and the bucks in the area throw common sense and caution to the wind? I dont think that bucks are really any smarter than does and it’s a common misconception with hunters that a doe is an easy target. Fact is they would probably say the same for the bucks if that ratio was as high and you could argue the point that there are more does because theyre smarter. I feel theres a balance somewhere in here and to relinquish a split I go with this being a myth.

Myth:
When a deer is scared it heads for the next county.

Fact:
A deer has an attention span of roughly 2 minutes. Thats the given time alloted to hold tight and let the deer relax if it seems spooked. If there is nothing holding that deers attention it will relax. When you see a deer on a full head of steam run it probably isnt going very far. Consider yourself running, you choose the reason, from someone while you’re in your own neighborhood. You know this area and once you’re chased out you become vulnerable as confusion sets in. A deer reacts very similar. More times than not they would rather try and ellude you in close confines than to step into unfamiliar territory.

Myth:
Old bucks are old because theyre smarter.

Fact:
Considering that most bucks seldom reach the age of 4 years old, it would be easy to say that an old buck must have been smarter to survive. In certain cases this does hold true but in the overall percentage the myth just doesn’t hold water.

More times than not a buck reaches a ripe old age in reflection of the area in which it resides. More times than not again these areas are quite desolate and see little to no hunting pressure. These bucks may venture into harms way during the rut but for the majority of the year they seek refuge in the safe harbor of their core range. You cannot study a wild free-ranging animal throughout it’s lifetime and not create some sort of disturbance or impact that will alter the deers action or reaction at some point. This alone would taint the research. So is the buck smarter or does he just live in a better neck of the woods?

Myth:
The yearly rut only lasts several days.

Fact:
Although a doe in estrus may only be apt to breed for several days that actual rut can last for months. Any doe that was not bred will re-cycle again 28 days later and can spur a late rut resulting in a flurry of activity and movement. Dont put away your weapon after you have witnessed the main rutting phase. Mark your calendar and at least make note to be out in the woods during the timeframe when a second estrus cycle may occur.

Myth:
If the belly or stomach is swollen or bloated when you recover your deer you should discard the animal.

Fact:
Gases begin to get trapped as soon as the deer expires. Many times a hunter will notice when he penetrates the stomach lining during the field dressing process that air/gas rushes out. That amount is dependant on the elapsed time since the deer expired. This ingestion will be punctuated through warmer weather climates and less noticeable in cooler climates. If the deer is cleaned throughly and cooled you should have no problem with meat spoiling but this one would have to be a personal decision.

Myth:
Rattling works better in southern states.

Fact:
Consider that rattling is more widely used in southern states and also that the terrain is that of a more open venue. The sound of the rattling in effect travels further and also allows the hunter a longer shot at approaching deer. The fact is the sound is what attracts the deer and that same sound will work in any state or region where whitetails reside. A rattling sequence tells a deer that there is a reason for two combatants to scuffle over the area thus providing an effective means of calling or enticing deer anywhere.

Myth:
Cutting the throat on a wounded deer is the best way to kill it and bleed it out.

Fact:
Cutting the throat and watching a deer bleed out is not a way to pass the time. In truth it can be effective but it is no quicker, nor humane, than a second shot to the head or vitals. You’ve put the deer down now is the time to finish the job as quickly as possible.

Myth:
Deer don’t move during the mid daylight hours.

Fact:
Personally I am not one who can sit all day. I know my limits and realize when it’s best to just up and leave before tipping every whitetail around to my location. The fact is this is exactly what happens to most hunters and why it’s feasible to be on your post during mid-day. Deer will travel whenever they feel safe or when they feel pressured. An onslaught of hunters vacating the woods at mid morning can push deer to move from their bedding areas. Lunchtime is a good time to be on your stand which is exactly why I head back out after a short break in the morning.

Myth:
Only use doe-in-heat scents during the rut.

Fact:
A buck is ready and able to breed as soon as his velvet has been shed. Now if you realize anything about the timing in regards to antler velvet, rubbings, and the rut, you plainly see a fairly large amount of time in between. The fact is although the scent may seem out of place, it is highly unlikely that the buck would wander off without investigating. Use it. Experiment. Thats what hunting is about.

Myth:
You can determine a buck from a doe by it’s track.

Fact:
The biggest track I have ever seen in the woods surely had to belong to a world class whitetail buck but two days later proved just the opposite when a monster of a doe walked right past my stand. The fact is there is no discernable method for distinguishing between a buck or doe by it’s track. Splayed hooves, drag marks, straight paths and meanderings can be either sex but more times than not a larger than normal track will belong to that of a buck.

Myth:
Small fawns during the hunting season spells bad news for the herd.

Fact:
Some say that the late born are a sign of plenty from abundant food sources allowing a later drop in fawns. In fact some researchers have noted that the young fawns drop their young in July, some two months later than their adult counterparts, due to this excess of nutrition. Personally I dont belive this judgement particularly in areas that encounter extreme winters. Physically speaking a fawn born two months earlier stands a much better chance of surviving through winter. In essence small fawns during the hunting season could spell disaster for the herd. I’ll leave this last one up to you but I am going with this being a fact rather than a myth.


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