Last deer season we wrote about a buck that traveled a crazy distance between summer and winter home ranges. Many people dismissed the trek as a fluke and blamed the freshly applied collar for spooking the deer into running that distance, but guess what he did it again.
According to the the Clarian Ledger, Buck 27 made a 13-mile trek right after he was darted and collared and set up a winter home range. Researchers at first thought it might be a fluke but he then returned to the area he was originally darted. The following year he repeated the journey using almost exactly the same timeline.
“He was originally darted in August of 2018,” said Colby Henderson, Mississippi State University graduate student. “After he woke up he just high-tailed it out of there.”
“He moved 13 miles. He stayed there until February and then came back to the same property we darted him on.”
“We really seemed to capture him at the time he was going to leave,” Henderson said. “We think it was coincidental we captured him just before he was going to leave.
Data collection for the study was scheduled to end on March 1of this year when the collars were programmed to drop off. However, 12 collars failed to drop and continued to send location signals and collect waypoints. Buck 27 was one of these malfunctioning collars.
Researchers are hoping a hunter kills the deer so the can collect the data. Only ten percent of the data is transmitted to researchers, meaning 90% of the data collected remains with the collar.
While the 13-mile trek is impressive, one deer in the study may have gone even farther. A buck was spotted with the same sort of collar that was spotted 39 miles from the original study area. A few of the collars are still unaccounted for so it is very possible.
“We get reports of deer with collars annually,” said William McKinley, MDWFP Deer Program coordinator. “Somebody well-meaning catches a fawn, raises it a bit, and they turn it loose. But they want to identify the deer.”
The collars we use for research are very wide — about 4 inches wide,” McKinley said. “The buck that was reported was wearing one of these collars. He said the deer had a hand-wide collar, not a thin dog collar.”
“We’re looking at 39 miles,” McKinley said. “I went in and looked at the straight-line distance. They move a lot more and a lot farther than people realize.”