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Alpine Buck Behavior Questions

trb

Active member
Joined
Aug 29, 2019
Messages
148
Location
Colorado
Hi all,

I have a muzzleloader deer tag this year, and because of my lack of luck in other draws, I have been putting my full focus into scouting for the hunt. I got the tag because I am fairly familiar with the unit, and I enjoy spending time above treeline. I am a teacher, so with the summer off, I have spent close to 20 days in the unit exploring all the different basins that seemed likely to hold deer. Although I took a doe in the unit during 2nd rifle last year, it is a pretty low density deer unit. Up until last week, I had only seen one buck (who is unlikely to still be where I saw him) and a few does in the timber. However, while exploring a new area last week, I found the honeyhole. In a small pocket between two alpine lakes, I found 8 bucks and a doe ranging from 2 4x4s, a couple of 3x3s including a deep bladed one who was probably the biggest bodied, a buck with an irregular club on one side, and a few forks. I watched as they made the exact same pattern from bedding in small strip of timber, to feeding uphill into meadows between snow patches three days in a row. I haven't figured out exactly where they bed during the day, as the wind was not right for me to get above them without risking spooking them.

I am curious of you all's opinions of this group of buck's anticipated behavior over the next month and a half. I have done a good bit of reading on the subject, and although it seems likely they will stay in the same general area unless they are bumped, how specific of a location do bucks tend to stick to between August and September? Would this size of a group stay together through mid-September? Obviously I think the biggest wild card would be if someone finds and hunts them in archery season, but there's nothing I can do about that. I will try and go back up once more towards the end of August to see if I can re-find them, but with school starting my schedule is a lot less open. If only I could give virtual lessons via inReach at 11,000 ft... I haven't figured out what kind of time off I can take off for the hunt yet, but hopefully I will be doing a minimum of 4 days. I would also like to figure out a plan B location in the unit that holds deer, but no luck so far there. Thanks in advance for your input, and feel free to share any other words of wisdom for a high country hunt that you think would be helpful!

Thought you might enjoy these photos. I apologize for the crappy quality, my spotting scope was a whopping $75. I especially enjoyed watching the moose calf-buck interaction...

IMG_20200801_075553.jpg bucks and moose.jpg
IMG_20200801_071941.jpg IMG_20200801_073337.jpg
 

2rocky

Well-known member
Joined
Jul 23, 2010
Messages
2,618
He's got everything he needs right there at the moment. He is gonna live the life of Riley there until his food or water source freezes or is buried under snow. Once his antlers harden up he will spend more time in the trees and feed at night. Your best time I think would be spent finding other similar spots with deer in them. That way you have options if he changes the script on you.
 
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trb

Active member
Joined
Aug 29, 2019
Messages
148
Location
Colorado
He's got everything he needs right there at the moment. He is gonna live the life of Riley there until his food or water source freezes or is buried under snow. Once his antlers harden up he will spend more time in the trees and feed at night. Your best time I think would be spent finding other similar spots with deer in them. That way you have options if he changes the script on you.

I have read some conflicting info on when antler shedding and hardening specifically occurs (I often read "early September"), would you expect that to be completed by Sept 12th? I could't agree more about my next steps. If I have free time, it will likely be spent exploring new areas, and hopefully re-checking on these bucks at the last minute just before the season. Thank you for your insight!
 
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2rocky

Well-known member
Joined
Jul 23, 2010
Messages
2,618
I killed a Wyoming hard horned buck on 9/15 that was definitely in velvet on 9/14.

There will be SOME hard horned bucks on Sept 12 but not the majority I would GUESS. There will be deer rubbing velvet off for a couple weeks on either side of the 12th.
 

trb

Active member
Joined
Aug 29, 2019
Messages
148
Location
Colorado
I killed a Wyoming hard horned buck on 9/15 that was definitely in velvet on 9/14.

There will be SOME hard horned bucks on Sept 12 but not the majority I would GUESS. There will be deer rubbing velvet off for a couple weeks on either side of the 12th.

That's very helpful, thanks. I was originally debating whether to take time off on which end of the season, but sounds like I should do it on the front end to maximize my chances of catching them moving more during the day.
 

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