White-tailed deer spatial ecology during hunting season in Nebraska

Deer with GPS collar

White-tailed deer spatial ecology during hunting season in Nebraska

Undergraduate Student


Funding Source(s)


The 9 days of Deer rifle season in Nebraska might be more special to some than any other time of year. These 9 days give hunters the opportunity to harvest the trophy buck they've been watching and waiting for. They’ve done their homework and should know exactly where that deer will be opening morning. Then opening morning comes around and there is not a deer in sight, and they don’t see that trophy buck again until after sunset on closing day. They sit there and wonder how can the deer sense when to change up their movements to avoid the hunting season. This study aims to do just that I am hoping to bridge the gap that currently exists in our understanding of deer diurnal and nocturnal movements and resource selection prior to, during, and post rifle season in Nebraska to better understand when where and why they move to these certain areas. 

By using minimum convex polygons, and Arc GIS mapping technology to convert Longitude and latitude readings into spatial data points and analyze the deer’s nocturnal and diurnal movements over the pre, during, and postseason. With Nebraska being 97% privately owned lands and 92% of that being dedicated to some form of agriculture. This information will be critical to land managers and biologists interested in improving deer management in these highly fragmented agricultural landscapes and also to hunters looking to diversify their hunting strategies. 

Throughout the course of my UCARE project, I have found that there is currently no statistical significance in conjunction with diurnal and nocturnal movements and the current deer rifle season. It was also found that there is no statistical significance in the correlation between the deer’s’ movements and if it’s pre, during, or post rifle season. After analyzing the data and researching previous studies that do have scientific evidence that rifle season has an effect on deer movement. I believe some detail had an effect on this group’s movement, now I am working towards figuring out exactly what that detail would be. I am going to be diving deeper into the more fine-scaled aspects of the landscape and running examining aspects such as resource selection, and movement metrics to see if this could provide a better explanation of what is actually causing the population to move the way they do. 

Project Recognition:

Kaitlyn Dolzer's project was selected as one of the top undergraduate research projects in the College of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources.