How Trophy Bucks Survive

A lot of hunters want to know how trophy bucks survive the hunting season each year.

The simple answer is that they are secretive. They very often live close to people but are very rarely seen. Often hunters are surprised when they set up a trail cam to find a trophy buck in the area, even though they may have hunted the area for years.

trophy buck in the woods

It takes a trail cam to alert them to the buck’s presence.

A 1995 Texas study looked at the way whitetail bucks reacted to human disturbance, and found that bucks were less flighty as they got older. Middle-aged bucks travelled the farthest when spooked.

Bucks over 7.5 years old travelled the shortest distance.

So this shows that trophy bucks are secure in their home range. They have learned slow deliberate movements away from potential danger work better than a panicked long distance run.


When it comes to their bedding areas, trophy bucks are very cautious about selecting secure areas, and may even travel several miles from good night-time feeding areas to the dense cover where they bed down during the day.

Trophy bucks treat the secure cover as more important than the feeding area, and usually prefer to be as far away as possible from human disturbance, which may leave them far away from good food.

Trophy bucks spend most of their time in impenetrable cover that provides them with a sanctuary that they may use for months. This area may be very small, but is usually difficult to approach quietly.

In the Northwest this may be impenetrable willow thickets next to a major river, positioned so the prevailing wind allows them safe entry and exit. In the South, these spots may be swamps. In the North they may be conifer stands, hawthorn thickets or tangles of sumac, prickly ash or aspen.

To find these areas requires some scouting. The trails to and from these sites in the rut will normally be marked with lots of rubs. The bedding area will have some rubs as well as lots of deer pellets in a small area.

The key to understanding how the trophy bucks survive is to understand their behavior. When you can do this, they are yours for the taking.

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