You may have noticed when scouting or when checking trail cameras that you are seeing more bucks hanging around together than normal. In the summer months whitetails will group together in all male groups, called bachelor groups. Their lower levels of testosterone enables them to tolerate one another while retaining a very predictable movement pattern. At this time bucks are about as easy to pattern as they will ever be. The bachelor groups differ in sizes from a couple of bucks to as many as 10 depending on the local deer densities.
This is the time of year when the bucks on your property are beginning show their potential. Many times hunters don’t pay attention to the patterns of bachelor group bucks which is a huge mistake. If you notice a bachelor group that has a preferred food source or is traveling a particular trail, you may want to lock that in your memory bank. Many times hunters tend to write off what they see during the summer due to the fact that once the buck’s velvet sheds and food sources change their predictability will decrease. While there is some truth to this there is still much to be learned by observing these bucks. Observation from a distance or with a trail camera is ideal because it minimizes the human intrusion and pressure exerted on the deer. The bucks will commonly use the same trails and funnels during the fall and winter as they did during the spring and summer. Often times a buck is still in their bed-to-feed early season pattern during archery season in NC, allowing you to capitalize on their predictability before the bachelor groups disband.
This is also a great time to pay attention to their behavioral characteristics. Despite being seemingly docile they will still establish a pecking order. While scouting you will observe which one is the dominant buck and notice other interesting behavioral characteristics. Being dominant is all about attitude, not antlers, so watch them carefully. There was a bachelor group consisting of seven bucks, three of which were mature on my hunting property in Edgecombe County, NC. I estimated them to be at least 3.5 years old. One buck was particularly aggressive, especially considering the time of year. I figured since he was aggressive during the summer he would be a handful with testosterone pulsing through him during rut…and he was. His somewhat hostile demeanor was his undoing as he came to a rattling sequence looking for a fight in mid-November 50 yards from my setup.
While many of the bucks in bachelor groups will disperse, your observations could likely result in a chance to harvest a great buck. On the other hand if you aren’t seeing many bucks on your property, don’t worry. Wherever they are they will break up in the early fall and could show up on your property at any time.