Why & When Buck Dispersal Occurs

By Brodie SwisherJune 16, 2021

The thought of bucks growing up and leaving the properties we hunt can be hard to accept. It’s not unlike our children growing up and leaving home. We dread the time, but know the moment is inevitable. 

Despite our best efforts to keep buck fawns on our property as they grow, it’s just not the way God designed it to go down. 

So why and when does buck dispersal occur on the properties we hunt? Take a look at what Brian Murphy, of HuntStand, has to say in the video below.

When Buck Dispersal Occurs

As mentioned in the video above, bucks typically disperse around 12-18 months to find a new home range. 

This often explains why we see so many 1 1/2 year-old bucks out “cruising” during the rut. They appear to be clueless and uncertain of their whereabouts. In many cases, that’s just the deal. They are establishing a new home range in the dispersal process. 

Why Buck Dispersal Happens

Buck dispersal is a natural occurrence designed to prevent inbreeding among the herd over time. The dispersal process results in a cleaner, healthier deer herd across the map. 

The female offspring typically stay with the mother, while male offspring are forced to leave their birth home range. 

young bucks in velvet
Have you ever considered why buck dispersal occurs?

Where Do Buck Fawns Go?

Murphy says that 50-75 percent of buck fawns leave the area to establish a new home range, typically 1-5 miles away. 

Yes, this may seem discouraging for our management efforts. However, we have to keep in mind, neighboring farms within the area will also be experiencing buck dispersal as well.

The buck fawns on our property will relocate to neighboring farms, and bucks from neighboring farms will relocate and take residence on our property. It’s basically a big home range buck swap. 

The bottom line, we can rest easy knowing that buck dispersal is a give and take movement in the management process. 

As Murphy mentioned above, once bucks age to the 2 1/2 year range, they begin to settle in and establish a solid home range. And these are the bucks we’ll begin to key in on and follow in the years to come as they mature into trophies worthy of the tag. 

Brodie Swisher
Brodie Swisher is a world champion game caller, outdoor writer, seminar speaker and Editor for Bowhunting.com. Brodie and his family live in the Kentucky Lake area of west Tennessee.
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