This past weekend, Luke and I took some brush out to the property. While there, he wanted to do a little mushroom hunting. Conditions were extremely dry and we didn't find any at all. We were basically three days early, given the text photos and emails received from others I know. As normal, they shared photos, but not mushrooms. However, I have been finding mushroom hunting more and more difficult each year. Not because they have been scarce, but because I have a hard time not focusing on deer sign at all times when in the woods.
The other day was no different. Deer sign was everywhere and I stumbled upon one of the largest natural buck beds I have yet to find on the property. The photos below illustrate the buck bed, which has most of the characteristics typically found. The bed was on somewhat flat ground, had two entry / exit points, good screening cover or canopy overhead. In addition the bed is located right next to two main trails that are heavily traveled.
What was completely out of character for the bed found was the location in conjunction with the topography. This bed wasn't located atop a point or on the military crest of a point. It was just the opposite, being located at the base of a point. This obviously has peaked my interest as to why the buck chose this particular spot. Although there are exits and means of escape in just about every direction, it would be possible to approach this buck from the SE along the ridge. However, this buck must consider this area secure, otherwise it would not look as worn and used as depicted in the photos.
The size of the bed indicates to me that this is a large buck, most likely older than 2 years old. Normally the beds I have found are not as wide from side to side. In addition, I found the depth of this bed from front to back to be abnormally large. The leaves were smashed down significantly and there was extensive deer hair all around that had obviously been shed by the buck. Furthermore, the buck had droppings in two spots along the east edge of the bed. It appears that he was dropping before entering or upon exiting the bed. The old saying of "don't crap in your own nest" was being practiced by this buck.
So, what do I do with this information? Well, I've considered placing a camera over the bed, somewhat at a distance to prevent spooking the buck. Hopefully this will help me understand this buck better and give me the information needed going into the fall season. I am also hoping this is a resident buck that will be in this bed year around.
It also has occurred to me that some of the beds I have personally made may not be large enough to accommodate a larger buck. As a result, my next steps are to build an addition onto the existing buck beds. They must need a king size instead of a queen size bed. If the bucks on my property like beds like the one in the pictures below, then I need to provide what they prefer. I will try to post additional photos of the bed improvements made in the near future.
The deer sign continues to pile up on the property making me even more confident that the work we are doing is paying off. The next seven months should prove to be extremely interesting as we track the herd's progress and hopefully another buck harvest.