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Nice work. That does look more natural. I thought maybe the deer had either a time limit or was only allowed to eat at certain times :wink: June and July do look like good killing seasons though Jack :lol:
Well that new graph points out what other studies have found--that deer have been misclassified. They are classified as "diurnally crepuscular" which means they move most during low light periods of the day (near dawn and dusk). In reality, they are more of a nocturnal animal. They move most at night, which is one of the reasons they are so hard to kill when hunters hunt during daylight.

But your graph also points out another habit I have noticed over the years, and that is a tendency to get a bunch of deer/pictures on one day, followed by days with little activity. I often find I will get a bunch of pictures of different bucks in one single day. This forms clusters of photos on that date followed by several days of few buck pictures. I've always wondered what caused this patten. Are the deer shifting around inside their ranges on some sort of "shared" pattern? Even when bachelor groups of bucks have broken up, I still see this pattern. Are bucks really not on the property during the "down" days or does this have more to do with days that are favorable for high activity?
This has got to be one of the coolest hunting discussions I've ever seen! Great sleuthing on the banding issue.

One thing to keep in mind about the data is that conclusions can only be drawn with respect to how the data was collected. In other words, we are not necessarily looking at the patterns of all deer everywhere, but we are looking at the patterns of THESE deer over fields. It is quite possible, even probable given general hunting lore, that placing an equal number of cameras in greater cover might yield more daytime activity. Deer that just mill about in the open during the daytime probably won't last long, whether predated year after year by something with four legs or two.

As a bowhunter, my feeders and cameras are placed in deep cover. I see as much if not more activity during daylight hours as during the night, though I do get specific deer that always come at night and others that always come during the day (even big bucks). It is still during traditionally good hunting hours of early to mid morning and mid afternoon to sunset, though.

Nonetheless, if this is where you hunt, then this is the data that matters.

You are absolutely correct. This data is only aimed at managing the local population. In order to establish any kind of a generalized patterning, one would need to duplicate results in a variety of locations.

The point you make about camera locations is on point as well. Most of these cameras are setup to monitor fields. One of the first things I found in the camera data in early years that seemed odd was the fact that there was no rut evidenced in the data. However, there was a significant rut in the hunter observation data. Many of the hunters were hunting these same locations and in view of the camera. They saw the deer because they could see into the thick stuff not just into the field.

Here are some trendlines from 2007:


The black trend line represents hunter hours (3rd order polynomial). Basically we had most of our hunters in Archery season through muzzleloader season. We had a lot of trespass and dog hunting in the area during firearm season. So, deer become very nocturnal when that pressure hits and our hunters backed off. Late in the year our hunters took advantage of holiday time off.

The yellow line is pretty flat. It represents the number of pictures regardless of the time they were taken. It is pretty much flat indicating the deer aren't going anywhere, just going nocturnal.

The blue line is the percentage of those pictures taken during shooting hours. It starts out high and decreases during the season as pressure increases.

The hunter observation data is represented by the green line. Here you clearly see a rut related peak.

The point is that without the hunter data, the camera data would have painted a very unclear picture.



With your advanced understanding of charting, you really should consider day trading the stock market. Your skills can make you serious coin- no joke. What separates many of the winners from the losers is the ability to analyze price behavior without emotion, and you already know how to do it.

Open an account with someone like TDAmeritrade and get access to all of the real-time quotes- you don't even need to fund the account for this. Use google finance for historical data, and knock yourself out with applying your skills to identify price patterns.

Serious, serious suggestion, Jack. I know a lot of successful traders who would look at what you're doing and have no freaking clue about the picture you're painting with those lines. I'm lucky in that I instantly get the "aha" from charts like yours, and this has earned me a very comfortable living working only about an hour at market open and 15 minutes at market close.

Sorry to post so off topic, but jeez, this level of charting is a skill that I think very few people appreciate, and I hope you are able to use it to do more than just shoot more deer.
This has got to be one of the coolest hunting discussions I've ever seen! Great sleuthing on the banding issue.

One thing to keep in mind about the data is that conclusions can only be drawn with respect to how the data was collected. In other words, we are not necessarily looking at the patterns of all deer everywhere, but we are looking at the patterns of THESE deer over fields. It is quite possible, even probable given general hunting lore, that placing an equal number of cameras in greater cover might yield more daytime activity.

Great observations Cameron. In addition to camera set-up, another consideration is past hunting pressure. I've noticed that properties that traditionally see a lot of hunting pressure also see considerably more nocturnal movement by deer. In fact, I've worked with unhunted deer herds before, and they display far more daylight movement than herds that are regularly hunted. This leads to the topic of deer "learning." I firmly believe (and have a lot of data to back up) that deer are relatively quick learners, at least when it comes to their own survival. Now how they learn is a good question, but they will learn to become almost exclusively nocturnal animals if they experienced regular and intense hunting pressure.

On this same topic of "learning," one of the most interesting analyses I've conducted was looking at the percent of pictures taken in daylight (at all type of set-ups: from fields to trails to scrapes, to the edges of thick cover) by buck age. I found a very strong correlation between nocturnal movement and advancing buck age. In essence, the older they are, the more likely they are to be nocturnal, again a suggestion that bucks are learning to be nocturnal over their lifespan.
One of my degrees in the biological basis of behavior. Herd animals can learn collectively pretty easily- that is, the learning of one can be transfered to the others due to the fact that they take social cues from each other.

Same thing goes for generation to generation. Get the parents to go nocturnal through hunting pressure or whatever, then their offspring will grow up nocturnal not knowing another way of life.

Of course, there is always competition for resources, so "experimentation" occurs frequently at the fringes, and as these experimenting deer become successful daytime feeders after the pressure is off, they will likewise pass this behavior on to the herd as the others start to follow them to see what they're up to.
Here is a great example of how quickly deer learn about predators: A few years back an urban archery group I helped get off the ground (SWMNV), was enlisted by a developer. Xerox owned a major training facility of several thousand acres in the Leesburg area. Our department of game had done necropsy studies on the property and tried to convince the company to allow some form of hunting to control the burgeoning deer population but they would not do it. There was an obvious browse line about 6' high in all of the hardwoods on the property. We later found out that a company official further up the chain was connected with PETA.

When Xerox sold the land surrounding the facility to a developer, the developer quickly realized something needed to be done. Deer were used to eating ice-cream cones out of the hands of visitors to the training facility. The developer decided firearms were not in their best interest from a PR perspective so they decided to enlist SWMNV in a very low key bowhunting program. Safety was a major concern. So, one of the rules we enforced with our bowhunters was that they could only shoot from an elevated stand.

For the first week or two, you wouldn't even call this hunting, the deer were so acclimated to people. However, it did not take them long to learn. By about week three of this project, you could still casually walk within about 10 yards of a feeding deer. It would only raise it's head occasionally to keep an eye on you. However, once you climbed into a tree, the deer would take off. Deer would feed through the property constantly looking up for people. The had learned that people were a danger when they were in a tree, but not when they were on the ground.



I've got a zillion stories just like yours that display the whitetailed deer species' ability to learn and learn fairly quickly.

One of my favorite is when the group I worked for at the time was hired to control and out-of-control deer population in a famous botanical gardens and adjoining private property (very large--14,000+ acres). The area hadn't experienced human hunting in over a decade, so considering the lifespan of deer, the vast majority of deer alive in this area had never experienced human hunting. The first year of the project it was like being in a zoo, with deer everywhere during daylight. You would have to stop your vehicle to let deer get off the roads.

By our population estimates, that first year we removed about 15% of the deer herd; barely enough to account for reproductive replacement. Yet the second year of the project, daylight deer sighting rates declined by 90%, and continued to decline each following year. In just one year of hunting, those unhunted deer had turned into "normal" hunted deer. How they "learned" the avoidance techniques is beyond me, as they had no experienced deer to learn from, but those experiences has lead me to believe that most avoidance behaviors are inherent in the species.

Boy would I like to have some long conversations with you. When I write for or give lectures to hunters on deer behavior I constantly stress the importance of deer avoidance behaviors and how to counter-act these behaviors with specialized hunting techniques. I have reams of data indicating how this process works numerically (hunter sighting and harvest rates). However, the question I'm always asked and can't answer is how deer learn to avoid harvest pressure, especially since most often deer do not witness the actual harvests taking place.

But I've had many, many experiences with deer that strongly indicate deer have a fairly keen ability to not only identify what types of human activity are "of no concern" and what types of activity are "dangerous" and need to be avoided, but also to identify individual people and assess them as either threatening or non-threatening, avoiding the humans they believe are threatening while acting like zoo animals around those they believe are not. I've also witnessed deer displaying "spatial" sense, in that they know human activity "here" is not a threat, yet human activity "over there" is a threat, even when it involves the same person (who they can easily identify by smell, as their sense of smell is equal to or better than a bloodhound's).

You get to see perfect examples of this in the suburbs. I was bowhunting one day in the suburbs and my treestand was barely 30 yards off the deck of the property owner. The kids were playing basketball in the driveway and the guy next door was cutting his lawn. Across the 80 yard riparian buffer of hardwoods other folks were grilling in their back yards.

Three deer were feeding about 80 yards away and coming my way. At one point they were standing about 20 yards from the guy cutting his lawn next door just feeding on acorns and only occasionally lifting their heads to check him out. They were about 60 yard away from me and still feeding my way slowly. After a few more minutes the deer had moved closer. They were now only about 30 yards from me but the way they had begun to circle, they were about 70 yards from the guy cutting his grass.

The guy shut off his mower and disconnected the bagger that was collecting the clippings. The deer stopped and focused on him. He then walked about 5 yards out of his lawn into the riparian buffer to dump his grass clippings. The deer immediately took of. The bounded off, ran about 80 yards further away crossing the creek, stopped dead and stared at the guy for about 5 minutes without moving. By then, the guy was back in his yard cutting grass again. The deer went right back to feeding along as though nothing had happened.

Those deer knew that humans don't normally bother them. As long as the humans stay in their normal routine and places, the deer pay them no real special attention. The moment they do something unusual like step out of their yard into the riparian buffer, the deer react.


One thing to keep in mind about the data is that conclusions can only be drawn with respect to how the data was collected. In other words, we are not necessarily looking at the patterns of all deer everywhere, but we are looking at the patterns of THESE deer over fields. It is quite possible, even probable given general hunting lore, that placing an equal number of cameras in greater cover might yield more daytime activity.

The data below exmplifies what Cameron is proposing. This data was collected from a very cool project in which we captured and attached GPS-collars to several deer. The property on which this project was implemented had been thoroughly mapped with high-end GPS equipment to an accuracy of 1 meter. The GPS-collars on the deer collected each deer's position (to an accuracy of 5 meters) every 20 minutes, 24-hours per day for months. We could take the GPS-collar data and lay it down over the GPS maps of the property to see what habitat each deer was in at each collected position and run spatial calculations off that data.

When looking at the GPS-collar positions by time of day I began to notice a pattern around food plots. To clarify this pattern, I had the mapping software draw concentric "buffers" around each food plot, with an interval of 50 yards. In essence, a buffer 0-50 yards out from the food plot, another from 50-100 yards from the food plot, etc. I could then calculate the percent of the GPS-collar positions inside of each buffer that occurred at a particular time. Using legal shooting light as the cut-off time, I ran a calculation on the percent of the GPS-collar positions within each buffer that occurred during legal daylight versus night-time (non-legal hunting time). I found the perfect regression displayed in the graph below.

This was a hunted property where hunters hunt their food plots. The collar data was collected during hunting season. During this time it is obvious that deer are avoiding food plots during daylight. In fact, the "daylight avoidance" pattern extended out at least 200 yards from the food plots. The closer deer were to a food plot, they more likely that activity occurred at night.


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