A month of game camera action

I decided to leave the game camera in place for one month, just to tally up the amount of deer activity it recorded.  So being a nerdy biologist I made some graphs of the results, which may or may not be of interest to any of my readers.

Activity on the deer trail at the back of our property was concentrated between the hours of 6 p.m and 7 a.m., with most of the sightings between 9-10 p.m. and 3-6 a.m.  Reference sources indicate that northern temperate deer are primarily crepuscular (active at twilight) in the winter and spring, with more activity in the late afternoon in the winter.  That does not appear to be the case in my backyard herd.

Deer sightings by time of day.  Activity is definitely not concentrated around sunrise (0700 +/- 20 min) and sunset (1740 +/- 20 min)

Deer sightings by time of day recorded on the game camera. Activity occurs before well before sunrise (0700 +/- 20 min) and then not again until after sunset (1740 +/- 20 min).  Of course, deer may be active in other parts of the backyard at different times than this.

The activity pattern did not change much over the month of February, although daylength changed from less than 10 hours to more than 11 hours of daylight.  It would take more than a month’s worth of data to see differences in the activity pattern.  There were roughly equal number of sightings of deer moving north along the trail as south.  This is a well-traversed path, judging from the compaction of the trail.

deer activity chart

White-tailed Doe traveling south at dusk

White-tailed Doe traveling south at dusk.

I can't tell the does apart, but I can distinguish the two bucks (one has more tines on his antlers than the other).  This is big buck (BB).

I can’t tell the does apart, but I can distinguish the two bucks (one has more tines on his antlers than the other). This is big buck (BB) traveling north early in the morning.

Big buck is a beauty, but rarely ventures into the yard during daylight hours to be photographed.

Big buck is a beauty, but rarely ventures into the yard during daylight hours to be photographed.

There were 26 sightings of individual deer on 13 dates over the 30 days, with a breakdown of sex and age as follows.

sightings by deer type

I believe there are four does, two bucks, and at least 3 yearlings in the backyard herd.  A higher representation of does to yearling sightings must mean the younger animals avoid this trail for some reason.

That’s all for now.  Maybe the pattern will be different next month — or some other animals besides deer might show up on the game camera.

10 thoughts on “A month of game camera action

  1. What a great breakdown of activity from the month! I think we should set up a game camera in our backyard as well to track the activity in our Maple Grove “herd”. The good professor might just garner enough information to publish a paper to refute the crepuscular theorists.

    • I am very pleased that the camera works well, despite cold, snow, etc. I hadn’t thought about using it to collect data on deer activity, so that is a plus! Now if I could just figure out how to capture fox activity with the camera.

  2. It makes sense that they’d be feeding more at daybreak because they don’t usually feed during the daylight hours. It’s odd that there are two bucks though. I’m surprised that they aren’t fighting over who will be the boss.

    • I think the males are more tolerant of each other at this time of year when the rut is over and hormone levels have dropped. At one point last year, there were three bucks of different ages (and antler sizes) in the backyard.

  3. Interesting data, Sue. Deer sightings here correspond with yours, i.e., just after 9 p.m. or so and in the wee hours of the morning. The dogs alert us to their presence and my husband has been able to see them in the front yard. Can’t imagine why doe sightings are recorded in much higher proportion than the yearlings.

    • One thing I forgot to look at, and your post just reminded me, was the status of the moonlight on the days that the deer were out in the wee hours. I know the full moon is bright enough to wake me up in the middle of the night, so perhaps it’s a bright enough stimulus for the deer to start their morning ramble early. Or maybe they are just darn hungry at this late date in the winter when there is nothing nutritious left to eat out there.

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