Most hunters automatically assume every oversized buck is a “Super Alpha”, when in fact he is more than likely a Gamma buck.
A Gamma buck’s territory differs considerably from that of either Alpha’s or Beta’s. First off, their territory is considerably larger, often overlapping the territories of two or more Alpha males. The Gamma’s ground scrapes and tree rubs appear to be mere tokens efforts and haphazard at best. Gamma bucks seem to appear out of nowhere and disappear just as fast. During the rut they can be in one place one day and 5 miles away the next. Their home territory is seldom the same from one year to the next.
Prior to the rut, a Gamma will back away from aggressive behavior displayed by another buck. A Gamma does not attempt to establish dominance over other bucks, at least not until the rut begins. If there’s a hot doe involved, a Gamma being psychologically dominant well meet aggression with aggression.
Are there special tactics we should consider when hunting the gamma buck?
Tree stands and blinds overlooking food plots are quite way to harvest Alphas and Betas, but never hunt a Gamma buck on the edge of field. You’ll probably never see him. You’d be better off setting up 100 to 200 yards in the timber.
Gammas are the most secretive of any buck in the herd. Gamma bucks rarely enter a field to feed during daylight hours. When they do enter the field it is usually away from the other deer.
Sitting all day watching a funnel is a great way to hunt gamma bucks. Grunt calls and bleating are effective on Gamma bucks, but antler rattling usually sends them running.
Several years ago, my father and I were hunting a heavily timbered bench. We had seen a big Alpha buck pushing does in this area on several occasions but hadn’t been able to get a shot at him yet. Early in the hunt we found him breeding a hot doe. Once the buck had finished giving the doe the best 3 seconds of her life, my father let the air out him. The doe scampered up the hillside and stop some hundred yards from us. It was then I noticed another large deer, much larger than the alpha charging words of doe. It was the Gamma. I let him have it as he passed through a small clearing.
Remember Gamma bucks are reclusive and patient. Even during the rut though often bide their time and do their breeding at night. One thing I’ve learned: if you harvest a buck on a hot doe and still have a tag get right back on her. There is about a 50% chance a bigger (Gamma) buck will be on her shortly.
How more successful we could be if we focused our efforts on harvesting Gamma deer instead of Alpha deer?
(This is part three of a series of articles on Gamma bucks)
Good Luck and Good Hunting,