Current research suggests that female white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus) will adopt sedentary breeding strategies in populations with an abundance of males and a more active mate-searching strategy in low-density or unbalanced herds. We used GPS collars to document the movements of 10 female deer during the breeding season at two Mid-Atlantic study sites that support high-density herds with nearly equal sex ratios. We calculated 95% and 50% seasonal and weekly kernel home ranges and the daily percentage of points located outside of the seasonal home range (SHR). Peaks in weekly home range size and in the percentage of points located outside of the SHR occurred between 7 Nov. and 9 Dec. (x ¯ = 22 Nov.) for eight deer. Past data from one of the study sites have indicated that most breeding activity occurs from 5–25 Nov. Peaks in the percentage of points outside of the SHR corresponded to brief (x ¯ = 24.0 h, sd = 18.2 h; range 8–68 h) excursions. On peak days, 46–100% (x ¯ = 68.3%, sd = 17.1%) of data points were located outside of the SHR. No other excursions were observed during the 17 wk study period. Our results suggest that female deer may travel outside of their home range during the breeding season even when presented with an abundance of potential mates; these data suggest females are engaging in a discrete form of mate selection.
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Vol. 163 • No. 2