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Do Mule Deer migrate or do they have a home range?

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    Do Mule Deer migrate or do they have a home range?

    This was my 8th year of traveling to NE to hunt. Saw some smaller WT & MD, but nowhere near what I have seen in years past. We hunt out around Lewellen, NE. It just seemed like the rut was not on and the deer weren't to be found. We covered many miles daily and only went home and made Tag Soup.

    #2
    Most migrate to southern Arizona for winter.
    They have cometh

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      #3
      Then I guess I should hunt there. Thanks for your insight.

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        #4
        mule deer definitely migrate in mountainous regions, not sure about Nebraska
        https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BIAyb-1uwTg

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          #5
          I have hunted the Sandhills for 25 years. My opinion is no they don't migrate. As long as the food source is good, they stay in a given area. However if the summer is dry and forage is poor they will move in search of "Greener Pastures". As conditions improve they will once again move back to their home range. During the rut as with anywhere different bucks come and go. We definitely saw plenty of mule deer rut activity during the rifle season as well as whitetail.

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            #6
            There is a difference between true migration and seasonal movements. Prairie deer may move rather short distances between wintering areas and summer areas if the winters are harsh, however in some milder winters they may not move at all.

            However, in some western states, mule deer will move 10's of miles to winter range. This is considered migration.

            To view some videos on migration look here: http://migrationinitiative.org/content/videos

            ClearCreek

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              #7
              Maybe there is no rhyme or reason to it. I guess they are either there or not. I did not notice many rubs in the area. The several MD doe I saw were traveling alone. I actually did not see many along the roads at nite either. With only 5 days to hunt it is tough. They had a fire south of Lewellen and that might have caused problems. Oh well that is hunting. I need to find some area to hunt north of Lewellen. Not being wealthy however makes it hard to gain access.
              Being from Pa doesn't help establish knocking on doors as a way to gain permission either. Thanks.........

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                #8
                I hunt the lewellen area alot. I didn't see but a couple 140"+ all fall. With that, I took the first decent buck I had the chance at with my ML. Then while I was doe hunting the week before Christmas I saw 7 bucks in one area. All of them were TOADS! Both whitetail and muleys. One muleys was pushing 200" It was just a weird fall.
                To answer your question I dont think the "migrate" but they do move mostly for water availability. Now when the snow flies the whitetail will group up and head towards the river. I believe it's so they have cover above their heads.
                ​​​​​​

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                  #9
                  Did a home range study on deer including mule deer in western Nebraska while in college and yes they migrate.

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                    #10
                    I'm no expert but did study wildlife and fisheries biology at the University of Wyoming. One of the studies I worked on showed that mule deer bucks can cover up to 250 miles from birth to death. Not all bucks were nomadic but a good percentage of them were. Does stuck to more traditional summer to winter migration. The migrations were more sporadic when it came to deer that lived at lower elevations during the summers. We didn't study Nebraska deer specifically but similar situations to NW Nebraska. I would guess the Nebraska does more than likely move only out of forage and water needs while bucks would likely still cover some distance during their lives...not necessarily a migration but rather permanent distribution to other areas.

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                      #11
                      Originally posted by Royal Flush! View Post
                      Did a home range study on deer including mule deer in western Nebraska while in college and yes they migrate.
                      How many miles did those mule deer migrate from summer range to winter range?

                      ClearCreek

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                        #12
                        I believe it depends on your definition of migrate. We see a ton of deer in our cornfield during Dec-Jan prior to Dec we see very few in the cornfield. I believe these deer are just following the feed source. Pasture grass is probably an iffy proposition trying to eat enough to stay warm and prosper compared to a cornfield. Pastures are pretty bare by Dec thus one of the reasons behind moving cows to stalks during the winter.

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                          #13
                          I often wondered about the corn stalk feeding. Are they eating the stalks or picking up missed corn cobs and kernels. I hunted over by Bristol several years ago
                          and the rancher there used those old AC round balers. He cut and baled different pastures which he gated off, then as feed became scarce he opened up new fields that had the round bales in them. We usually hunt the ASH Hollow area, but there are areas in there that require a helicopter to get to. Plenty of deer sign, but this year we saw very few in the rifle season. Now with the restricted Non Resident tag draw in the Platte we probably won't get a license this year. I was looking to the Plains area or some other area, but so far no luck.

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                          • Luv2Decoy
                            Luv2Decoy commented
                            Editing a comment
                            Some of the deer that "migrate" out of the country you are talking about, come up on the table lands to the south every evening now.

                          • Babe Winkleworm
                            Babe Winkleworm commented
                            Editing a comment
                            I have seen alot over around the Ogallala Beach area. Might go check over there.

                          • Luv2Decoy
                            Luv2Decoy commented
                            Editing a comment
                            Richard!

                          #14
                          You seem to know the area well. Might you know of a rancher who would let a couple of Pa hunters in?

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                            #15
                            Originally posted by ClearCreek View Post

                            How many miles did those mule deer migrate from summer range to winter range?

                            ClearCreek
                            Typically about 30 miles, but some we had radio collared traveled over 100 miles, if memory serves me.

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