He's at it again. Buck No. 140 has crossed the Mississippi River on a journey from his summer range in Louisiana to his winter range in the South Delta.
"He's on the Mississippi side of the Mississippi River, but he's not where he spends the rut," said Luke Resop, Mississippi State University graduate research assistant. "He's right on the edge of the river.
"It seems to be a staging area. When he's there, he doesn't move much at all."
Resop said its an area where Buck No. 140 stopped last year when he made the same journey. His movements have been tracked for almost two years by a GPS collar as a part of a study conducted by MSU and the Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks.
His lack of movement is a characteristic Buck No. 140 has displayed before -- to the point researchers thought he was dead.
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"So, we caught him in December 2020 where he spent the rut," Resop said. "About two weeks after hunting season he went into this really thick area.
"He moved 100 yards over the course of 10 to 12 days. Typically, that means they died and a scavenger is dragging around the collar. We sent some of our workers in there to retrieve the collar and he jumped out of his bed and took off like nothing was wrong. I guess he's recovering."
Buck No. 140 got his name from the ear tag on him with the number 140. He's part of a study to develop a method of tracking deer populations using cameras and other tools. The study is being conducted in the South Delta where deer face severe flooding as well as chronic wasting disease and in Benton County where CWD appears to be the most prevalent in the state.
He spends springs and summers in Louisiana in an area where soybeans are abundant. In late summer, he makes a 15-mile trek to the South Delta where winter food resources and breeding opportunities are more abundant.
His movements from year to year have been almost like clockwork.
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"When he returned from Louisiana to Mississippi in 2021, it was Aug. 4," Resop said. "This year it was on July 26.
"That was similar to Buck 27. He would make his return trips within five to 10 days when he would go back and forth."
Buck No. 27 was a part of an earlier study along the Big Black River in Madison and Yazoo counties. In that study, 32% of mature bucks had two home ranges averaging 3 to 5 miles apart. Buck No. 140 and Buck No. 27 stand out with home ranges roughly 18 and 13 miles apart, respectively.
The Mississippi River is also a significant obstacle for Buck No. 140 as it is about 1 mile wide where he crosses.
The GPS collar on Buck No. 140 and those on other deer in the study are programmed to fall off in November. Resop is asking hunters to avoid shooting any collared deer in the study areas until that happens.
"We prefer hunters refrain from harvesting collared deer until Dec. 1 when our data collection ends," Resop said. "If a collared or tagged deer is harvested, please contact MDWFP or MSU Deer Lab to let us know."
This article originally appeared on Mississippi Clarion Ledger: Buck in deer study crosses Mississippi River, returns to Mississippi