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Storm914

Do deer migrate and if so how far will they travel

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Do deer migrate and if so how far will they travel .

Just wondering because they find deer in city parks and places miles from any wooded area sometimes. 

Any studies done on this ?

Edited by Storm914

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Yes when new babies are born and when matting season starts are 2 times deer will move out to a new home range.  (Not really a migration.)  Low food quality, availability and overpopulation can all contribute to migrations also then you have those dam human's building everywhere deer need to find new area's.  Fire is another factor that can push them out. 

I don't believe they do it often unless it is to find better food.  From what I have read some herds will do this but most deer do not "migrate" in the traditional fashion.  Unless you consider yarding a migration, I guess you could. 

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The only time deer typically move to a new home range is when they are ousted from where they were born. Its called dispersion. There are exceptions, but those are generally caused by loss of habitat or something like that.

During the rut, bucks' home ranges are larger than the rest of the year. As bucks get older, typically their home range shrinks, especially their core area. Of course, all bucks are a little different, some travel more than others during the rut. Does typically have pretty small home ranges.

There are lots of good GPS tracking studies to read, and they provide very good insight into deer movements throughout the year. The studies also debunk most of the old hunters theories, such as moon phase theories, the October Lull, etc.

But no, deer do not migrate in the traditional sense of the word, like birds or african plains animals.

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depends on habitat and hunting pressure.  deer can move several miles, often less, for multiple reasons.  that's within what's referred to as they're home range though. they have a core area within their home range they keep going back to and different areas they flock to different times of the year.  like WNYBuckHunter said early in life a button buck can get driven and venture from where it was born, called dispersion.  in the fall they may move or shift to a different area down the road due to doe prevalence or usually security/hunting pressure. happens once antler hardens not necessarily when hunters hit the woods. during the winter needs change, and habitat somewhere else within their home range might be better so deer go there. any time of the year, 1 to few times per year, a deer of either sex will do what's referred to as an excursion. they travel outside their home range to check out what's out their. it's nature's way to ensure deer aren't thriving on one side of a mountain and scrapping along on the other when better resources are so close by.

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I once saw a huge deer yard with literally hundreds, maybe even thousands of deer clustered around the southern end of Honeoye Lake. I am quite sure that they were not all locals. That sure looked like a migration of deer. It is not an annual thing anymore .... thankfully. They were all looking gaunt and at death's door as they stripped all available forage from the entire area. Every field and opening in the area was covered with deer . Some alive....some dead.

Migration? It all depends on how you define the word.

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Remember that yarding in the past too, but don't see that as much any more though! JMO, yarding isn't the same as migration. When whitetails are searching for available food sources, esp in winter, they may wander away from their fair weather home-bases somewhat, but not sure you can call it a migration. Nothing like their cousins the elk that move miles from mountain tops to valleys in a seasonal search for food sources or escaping brutal weather conditions..

Although I do try to justify the October lull on the deer moving south along with the geese I watch flying overhead! :taunt:

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3 hours ago, nyslowhand said:

Remember that yarding in the past too, but don't see that as much any more though! JMO, yarding isn't the same as migration. When whitetails are searching for available food sources, esp in winter, they may wander away from their fair weather home-bases somewhat, but not sure you can call it a migration. Nothing like their cousins the elk that move miles from mountain tops to valleys in a seasonal search for food sources or escaping brutal weather conditions..

Although I do try to justify the October lull on the deer moving south along with the geese I watch flying overhead! :taunt:

I wonder if  sometimes  deer  get lost some how and and find them selfs moving   miles into a new area  that way possibly. 

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4 hours ago, nyslowhand said:

Remember that yarding in the past too, but don't see that as much any more though! JMO, yarding isn't the same as migration. When whitetails are searching for available food sources, esp in winter, they may wander away from their fair weather home-bases somewhat, but not sure you can call it a migration. Nothing like their cousins the elk that move miles from mountain tops to valleys in a seasonal search for food sources or escaping brutal weather conditions..

Although I do try to justify the October lull on the deer moving south along with the geese I watch flying overhead! :taunt:

I think that yarding is a movement to escape negative or uncomfortable environmental situations. Unprotected areas, or areas where winter food supplies are inadequate can spur mass movement. That is not really any different than the migration purposes of caribou and elk.

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Keep in mind that deer are always on the move, on a daily basis and steer themselves according to their stomachs. in the finger lakes near Seneca lake, generally very mild winters, the deer had a lot of varying food, they never wandered very far.

Up at my camp on the Tug Hill, I came to recognize the same core group of deer year round on my game cameras, but with a heavy snowfall and accumulation, they moved just off the area a couple miles away whre the terrain dropped closer to Lake Ontario and less snow. Come snow melt, the deer would reappear on the camera. Just a few miles away to the east, the deer would move to yarding areas to wait out the weather.

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Deer will migrate and herd in winter much more so in northern climates. They also disperse in fall and may go many miles in doing so. There have been many studies on both.. I believe the longest a deer traveled is close to 30 miles if I remember correctly


I've hunted almost everyday of my life.. the rest have been wasted!

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