Animals are not as dumb as one may want to think, and even though they may not have a calendar to tell dates and months or when it’s hunting season, they still rely on their memories and experience to tell when they are game. Because of this, it is admissible that animals are aware when the hunting season opens.
As the animals get older and survive each passing hunting season, they become aware of safer breeding areas to steer away from hunters. Whereas survival in the wild is individual, older animals tend to guide the young generations of the impending danger hunting season brings.
As it is the hunters’ responsibility to cull the herds, the idea is to allow pregnant females to have enough food during harsh times like winter. It is prudent that we hunt animals to maintain a balance of the ecosystem. Regardless of man’s hunting activities, most animal species are intelligent from experiences of escaping death or seeing other animals get wounded and die.
There is also a fair share of dumb animals, especially males who get fearless when overwhelmed with testosterone. Often, the bulls and bucks are first to die during the rut, which pretty much marks the beginning of hunting season.
How Do Animals Prepare for Hunting Season if They Are Aware?
Because of humans’ disruptive nature to the animal world, some certain species experience evolution and learn new ways to survive the hunting season. In a study of animal population and behavior, there is evidence supporting substantial change in hunted animals’ traits and morphology. Some of these changes average between 17% to 25% of the typical traits from different species.
The study also reveals that hunting can result in an entirely new set of traits and behavior in individual animals. The reason is that it impacts the behavior of a population, and this gets passed down to other generations. An example is a deer because they can now manage to choose between easy food and survival.
How Do Male Deer Cope When it’s Hunting Season?
Most of the male animal species generally adapt to the changing seasons. When it’s hunting season, the bucks seem to prefer dense brushes. It is a response that improves their survival as they become adaptive to their surroundings and the onset of danger.
Before hunting season, bucks are familiar with many feeding spots in the open. But immediately after the hunting season opens up, their fitness component shifts to dense habitats where they get plenty of cover and camouflage.
But this behavioral response is not down for all males, those that get shot trade-off their survival instincts for foraging. Switching habitat in males is not immediate, especially in winter, when food and foraging zones become scarce.
What Survival Tactics Do Female Deer Use When it’s Hunting Season?
When it’s hunting season, does and bucks respond differently. The does do not have a varied pattern of feeding as they rarely feed in the open. Does prefer concealed habitats, perhaps because they always face the risk of losing their offsprings every day. Hunting of female deer is not associated with the differences in habitat use.
Whereas human hunting leads animals to prefer concealed habitats, this behavior is mildly temporary. Due to too much risk avoidance, the cost is dire because of minimal foraging opportunities.
How Forage Quality Affects Survival of Deer
Deer that use concealed feeding habitats tend to survive longer than ones that feed in the open. A deer used to feeding in the bushes makes smarter survival choices and will eventually pass this knowledge to the coming generations changing the hunting methods of humans.
What We Are Yet to Know
Notably, the behavioral studies of hunted animals fail to show how the choice of habitat impacts the surviving deer. The sacrifice of risk avoidance cannot be put to measure, and often the bold deer get shot.
Therefore, hunting has dire effects than just behavioral change and how animals relate to the presence of humans. It shapes a different kind of evolution, where animals know its hunting season and instinctively get creative in survival.
Human hunting activities are not without negative consequences. When you see a doe on its own, you will assume it does not have a fawn hidden somewhere. Many successful hunts leave lots of fawns orphaned and therefore reduces their chances of survival. The best chance of survival of any young animal in the wild is with its mother.
When the dependent young are motherless and have to fend independently, they become easy pickings for other predators or death from bullying by the older animals. Maternal deprivation is a leading source of death as the young ones suffer from starvation, lack of nutrition, predation, and dehydration. Hunters that end up killing accidentally should euthanize the fawns as they have fewer chances of survival.