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Moen, Jeremiah Thomas; Ph.D.
Program of Human Development, Wellness
College of Human Development and Education; North Dakota State University
July 2009


An Examination of the Physical Activity Associated with Deer Hunting in North Dakota

Major Professor: Dr. Bryan Christensen

To evaluate the physical activity associated with deer hunting an accelerometer coordinated with a heart rate (HR) monitor was used to evaluate 22 healthy individuals. The following research topics were assessed: the physical activity levels associated with deer hunting; the difference between one’s physical activity level during the week and while der hunting; the relationship between subjects’ activity level and filling their tag; the movement patterns associated with deer hunting; the influence of tag type and physical activity patterns; the relationship filling one’s tag and the physiologic response that is commonly referred to as “buck fever”. Measurements were taken every 15 seconds by accelerometry during all activities. Hunting activities were logged by the individuals, which were later matched up with the activity readings (step and activity counts) and HR measurements by time for analysis.


Physical activity associated with deer hunting appears to provide a variety of activity levels overall when different activity parameters (HR, step, and activity counts) are used as a reference. HR data provides results that indicate deer hunting could be considered moderate to intense activity as prescribed by the United States Department of Health and Human Services (USDHHS). Step counts also yield results as being adequate for meeting USDHHS recommendations for moderate activity. Activity counts, however, yield results that conclude that hunting meets light activity levels. Significant differences in physical activity were seen between hunting and weekday periods, with hunting having higher levels of physical activity. Movement patterns were lowest in the morning, highest during late to mid afternoon, and decrease slightly from the middle of the day in the later portions of the afternoon. Hunters’ activity logs indicated the majority of the time was spent traveling in vehicle or walking during the hunting activities. Hunters who were more active in their hunting practices were also significantly more likely to fill their tag; in addition those who possessed a buck tag were significantly more active than those who had doe tags in the accumulation of physical activity. The phenomenon of “buck fever” was confirmed in this study as being non-tag specific and possibly being dependent on individual excitatory mechanisms.


In conclusion, a weekend of deer hunting in which deer drives are utilized would appear to meet or exceed the weekly recommendations for the accumulation of physical activity as set forth by the USDHHS. Moreover, deer hunting provides more activity than what is seen by an individual during the week. Accumulating elevated levels of physical activity may help to fill one’s deer tag, more specifically persons who possessed buck tags appear to have been more active in their hunting style. Movement patterns associated with deer hunting appear to be motivated by time of day and method of hunting preference. Buck fever in reference to a maximum heart rate does appear to exist, but may be dependent on individual physiological responses to hunting. 

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Last Updated: Monday, November 21, 2011 12:32:46 PM