Winter Movement of Whitetail Bucks at Sequoyah National Wildlife Refuge

Today I am sharing an image I took of a large whitetail buck crossing a field covered in heavy frost. This was at the Sequoyah National Wildlife Refuge in Oklahoma. I am wondering if this is the same buck I encountered on 11/23/2023 and wrote a blog post on titled “Majestic Survivor – The 9-Point Whitetail Buck“. Both locations are about a mile apart which is a short distance for a buck to travel.

A Whitetail Buck Crossing A Field Covered In Heavy Frost
A Whitetail Buck Crossing A Field Covered In Heavy Frost (Larger Image)

Whitetail Buck Movement During Winter At This Refuge:

It’s important to remember that these are general trends, and individual bucks can exhibit diverse behaviors depending on their age, health, social status, and specific microhabitat conditions. However, the information below provides a good baseline for understanding Whitetail Buck movements and home ranges during winter at Sequoyah National Wildlife Refuge.

Winter Travel:

  • Distance: Bucks at Sequoyah typically travel shorter distances in winter compared to summer, usually staying within 1-2 miles of their core area. This area often includes dense wooded patches and areas with reliable food sources like acorns and browse.
  • Timing: Movement peaks during the early morning and evening hours. During the day, they often bed down in sheltered areas to conserve energy.

Home Range:

  • Size: The home range of a mature buck at Sequoyah in winter usually falls within 1-3 square miles, significantly smaller than their summer range which can exceed 5 square miles. This decreased range reflects the need to stay close to reliable winter resources and minimize energy expenditure.
  • Habitat types: Their winter home range typically focuses on areas with good cover like hardwood forests and thickets, along with proximity to food sources like oak stands and agricultural fields.

The rut plays a significant role in Whitetail Buck movement patterns, even during winter in Sequoyah National Wildlife Refuge. While overall travel during winter is generally less compared to other seasons, the rut can certainly bring a temporary spike in activity.

Additional Factors:

  • Weather: Severe winter weather with heavy snowfall or ice cover can further restrict buck movement, forcing them to stay within smaller areas with readily available food and cover.
  • Hunting Pressure: During hunting season (Waterfowl during the winter), bucks may temporarily alter their movement patterns to avoid areas with high pressure, potentially venturing into less familiar territory.

This season provides a unique opportunity to capture Whitetail Deer and other wildlife adapting to the challenges of winter.

Driving my vehicle along the refuge roads allows me to cover more ground while minimizing disturbance. I can photograph from the comfort of my truck when the temperatures get frigid.

Patience and persistence are crucial, as deer movements are subtle. I might go for several hours without a good sighting. While the rut offers intense action, there is beauty in documenting how these majestic animals endure another winter. Utilizing my vehicle as a photography blind allows me to immerse myself in their world.

Image Information:

  • Date: 01/10/24
  • Time: 07:39 AM
  • Camera: Canon EOS R5
  • Lens: Canon RF 100-500mm F4.5-7.1 L IS USM
  • ISO: 6400
  • Aperture: 7.1
  • Shutter: 1/400
  • Exp. Comp.:+0.7
  • Lens (mm): 500
  • Program Mode: Manual

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