Deer Management

FisheadgibFisheadgib Senior MemberPosts: 5,694 Senior Member
I know lots of folks here hunt on state or BLM land but there's some here that hunt on private or leased land like I do. I've got two questions that are heavily discussed up at our camp and it's rare to read two articles or watch two hunting shows that agree on the subjects. One is antler growth. If you have a buck that has a wonky rack, can it possibly have a normal rack the following year or will it always have a messed up rack, and have offspring with messed up racks. I've heard lots of arguments from both schools. Another question is about doe to buck ratio's. We can shoot two does a day for over three months and just three bucks all season. When I hunted in Wisconsin years ago, your license got you a buck tag and you had to apply for a doe permit. I've heard arguments for everything from six to one bucks over does, six to one does over bucks, and everything in between. I'm not a biologist and don't know what to believe but I do know that we have a much larger doe population on our land than bucks and some of the guys at camp feel we need to shoot more does while others don't want to shoot does because they don't want to potentially spook a buck that might be near by when a doe walks out. What do you folks think?
snake284 wrote: »
For my point of view, cpj is a lot like me


  • FisheadgibFisheadgib Senior Member Posts: 5,694 Senior Member
    These are two of the guys in question. They still show up pretty regularly on one of my cameras and the guy with a single spike on his right has a pretty large range as he's showed up on two of my cameras and one of a friends. He's even showed up during shooting light so he's not very smart/wary yet and would not be much of a challenge to take. I would guess he's about two years old. I want to let them both walk another season and a couple of the guys say they should be removed from the gene pool.



    snake284 wrote: »
    For my point of view, cpj is a lot like me
  • knitepoetknitepoet Senior Member Posts: 18,845 Senior Member
    I'm not a biologist, nor do I play one on the internet but I do have opinions on some of the things you asked:

    Wonky rack: Antlers could be wonky due to genetics or possibly an injury/damage sustained early in that year's growth. IF it's genetic then yes, IMO that buck will sire deer with the capacity to have wonky racks and will continue to grow wonky racks its entire life.

    Buck to doe ratio: In talking to some of the state biologists, they've advocated the killing of more does to try and get a handle on the exploding population here in Alabama.
    Taking does is really the only effective way to do that long term. One buck can service a LOT of does, and the does will come "in heat" a second time if they're not bred the first time around.
    So by taking one buck, you've removed one deer from the population. By taking one doe, you've removed her, the 1.5 fawns (average between singles and twins) she would have had this year and all future years, PLUS her "grand kids" so the reduction grows exponentially every year

    I do not know what the proper, sustainable, buck to doe ratio is, but feel in most parts of the state it's currently way too heavy on does. Since I lost interest in "horn" hunting years ago, I have no problems busting every doe I legally can
    Seven Habits of Highly Effective Pirates, Rule #37: There is no “overkill”. There is only “open fire” and “I need to reload”.

  • knitepoetknitepoet Senior Member Posts: 18,845 Senior Member
    Fisheadgib wrote: »

    My GUESS on that one would be genetics, and personally I'd consider him a "high value target" to be removed from the gene pool
    Seven Habits of Highly Effective Pirates, Rule #37: There is no “overkill”. There is only “open fire” and “I need to reload”.

  • MileHighShooterMileHighShooter Senior Member Posts: 4,768 Senior Member
    First buck, I'd get him out. Second buck, I'd let walk a few years. One thing is for certain, antlers can NOT grow any bigger when you kill a buck ;)

    buck to doe ratio? I think everywhere, with EVERY species of big game, everyone focuses way too much on the biggest baddest males. I just don't get it, I mean, how many racks/mounts can one person really put up in a house? Unless you shoot something extremely spectacular...who cares? Meat is meat.

    For 99% of my hunting career, I've been like Knitepoet, meat. Who cares about horns? However, I desire some racks now, but once I get a good bull, buck and antegoat, I'll be happy to going back to shooting cows/does and inferior bulls if I have an either sex tag.

    edit - actually, I really only care about the buck, and that is only because I've been waiting for over half a decade now for a chance at it.
    Wambli Ska wrote: »
    Once again, please refrain from cutting short any baseless totally emotional arguments with facts. It leads to boring, completely objective conversations well beyond the comprehension ability of many.
  • bullsi1911bullsi1911 Moderator Posts: 9,729 Senior Member
    knitepoet wrote: »
    My GUESS on that one would be genetics, and personally I'd consider him a "high value target" to be removed from the gene pool

    Same here. My lease has had bad management for YEARS, and had a wonky racked 4 point as the dominant buck for at least 4 years. We are over-run with 3 points, long spikes, and unicorns. It has been the main focus this year to reduce the buck population and make it less of a sausa.... uh, 'ANTLER party' out there.

    hope to have more does and decent racked bucks in the next few years.
    To make something simple is a thousand times more difficult than to make something complex.
    -Mikhail Kalashnikov
  • NNNN Senior Member Posts: 23,967 Senior Member
    I suspect that the one with a cow horn will always be like that, he is a big deer.
    A Veteran is someone that served in the Military, it does not matter where they served.
  • 1965Jeff1965Jeff Senior Member Posts: 1,611 Senior Member
    EAT THEM! EAT THEM ALL!!! Save yourself a lot worry over nothing. Trail cameras just tease you unmercifully.
  • tennmiketennmike Senior Member Posts: 26,106 Senior Member
    Take out the one with the single slick antler on one side. He'll probably always be that way. He's a mature buck.
    Doe/buck ratio is what the land will support; nothing more nor less.
    Antler growth is genetics/nutrients/high quality browse. Put out mineral salt year round. Fertilize AND lime yearly on the grass/food plots. Fertilizer acidifies the soil, and acid soil keeps desirable plants from growing, but is good for growing weeds. Get a soil test or a soil test kit and find out what you have/need. Fertilize in the spring and spread lime in the fall. The deer will do better both in body conformation and bucks in antler growth.
    If the U.S. Congress was put in charge of the Sahara Desert, there would be a shortage of sand in under six months.

  • woodsrunnerwoodsrunner Senior Member Posts: 2,725 Senior Member
    Best to use a custom blend of 17-17-17 fertilizer, and most farm co-ops will blend it on thousand pound increments. Cost a little $$ going in, but it's worth it.
    The reason: Whitetail deer need at least 15%-17% protein in their diet to put mass on antlers-not necessarily points, but mass. Meet the protein requirements and you'll have bigger boned healthier deer with larger racks. If you have scrub low-grade small hardwoods on the lease cut these down with a chainsaw and fertilize a couple of times a year, early spring and mid-summer with the 17-17-17 mix and watch what happens! You'll pull deer from three states and two time zones to your land! Yellow corn either poured out or scattered from feeders will attract deer along with everything else that makes its living in the woods.....everything. Corn is only 8%-9% protein, so you aren't going to provide what the animal needs...only attract them. It's the P2O5 element in fertilizer that will put on bone and antler mass, so if you don't want to go the fertilizer blend route, get pre-mixed fertilizer with the highest P2O5 content that you can. Trace elements, too. Make sure the fertilizer has trace elements.
  • JayhawkerJayhawker Moderator Posts: 15,055 Senior Member
    Fisheadgib wrote: »
    One is antler growth. If you have a buck that has a wonky rack, can it possibly have a normal rack the following year or will it always have a messed up rack, and have offspring with messed up racks.

    In the case of antlers injured while in velvet...the results of that injury will show up in subsequent antler growth (happens in all cervids - we see examples of it every year in the elk on the refuge) We don't see evidence of the trait being passed along to offspring.

    A Genetic anomaly is something that can be passed on... I have a pile of antlers that were either taken or picked up on my place over the years...high, skinny and spindly..all of them...A couple of miles over, they grow them wide and heavy...
    Sharps Model 1874 - "The rifle that made the west safe for Winchester"
  • U TU T Member Posts: 405 Member
    I'd say the one with a spike on one side is roughly 1 1/2 years old. (I think most are born in june, so I doubt if he's 2) I say let him live, and see if he grows a better rack, and I doubt if he's breeding, so wouldn't worry about the gene pool now. The one dated 10-21-11 looks to be an older deer, because bigger neck, sagging belly, but I wouldn't shoot him either, not much mass yet, so I would guess he's 2 1/2, but I'm not an expert, but have been huntin for quite a while. We only own 48 acres, and we insist on only shooting mature bucks, and would rather shoot mature does than immature bucks. We usually don't shoot yearlings, as too many button bucks get killed that way. I'm a firm believer that you'll have less mature bucks if you shoot the young ones, but some people would rather kill a any buck than any doe? What state do you hunt?
  • Six-GunSix-Gun Senior Member Posts: 7,347 Senior Member
    cpj wrote: »
    I typically hunt on a 40 acre plot. My management technique is "if its brown its down". Seriously, I could let a buck walk that would be GREAT next year, only to hear the gun shot from the guy across the fence. On small parcels of land, you have ZERO chance of a successful management program if the people around you are not on board with it.
    So I dont worry about it.
    Yup. That's pretty much my philosophy, but I do pass on deer until things get critical and I haven't found something bigger. Bigger does NOT necessarily mean a large buck. For example, I passed on two small deer this year that were incredibly easy shots. One was a 32 yarder and the other a shade over 100 yards. Both were spotless, "larger" fawns that had clearly been orphaned in the preceeding days of rifle season because these two were young, dumb and still quite oblivious to the dangers of being out in a wildlife management area, in broad daylight (like an hour before the end of legal light), in western Nebraska. Not surprisingly, one of the two I let walk got shot the very next afternoon while I was working a different part of that same field. I heard shots from the woods leading to that field where I had sat the day before, and sure enough, some dude comes out of the woods dragging a deer not much bigger than my buddy's English pointer. It was the 30-yarder I could've had the night before. It's proof of what you said: on high-pressured, small, and/or public land, if you don't shoot it, someone else will. Thankfully, we changed locations and scored three much better deer in about 16 hours once we found an area away from the crowds, but had those two midgets been out on the second to last day instead of the ones I shot, they would've been freezer fodder for sure.
    Accuracy: because white space between bullet holes drives me insane.
  • JayhawkerJayhawker Moderator Posts: 15,055 Senior Member
    Some of the biggest deer I've ever taken were does...but then I kinda focus on the big old dry ones for filling the freezer...
    Sharps Model 1874 - "The rifle that made the west safe for Winchester"
  • bisleybisley Senior Member Posts: 10,651 Senior Member
    I just want to shoot mature bucks. What I go by more than anything else is whether their shoulders are roughly level with their hips, and the thickness of their antlers at the base. And, of course with the Texas 13" spread rule, I have to try to gauge that by the size of the deer and the comparison between the ears (when alert) and the antler spread. When selecting a cull buck, I just try to shoot the biggest and ugliest.

    I'm not really a horn hunter, either, but if I think there is a big one around, I'll pass up the marginal ones to try to get him. Then I bury the skull, with the antlers sticking up and throw a washtub over it and forget about it. Someday, I guess I will dig 'em up and stick 'em on a nail in the garage.
  • NNNN Senior Member Posts: 23,967 Senior Member
    "if its brown its down".
    Around here they add "and not a dog." to that plan.
    A Veteran is someone that served in the Military, it does not matter where they served.
  • jbohiojbohio Senior Member Posts: 5,508 Senior Member
    I'm no expert either, but here's my take.
    I'd guess that the spikey one is a 2.5 y.o., and the bigger one is 3.5-4.5 y.o.. Neither will probably ever amount to anything more, rack wise. They could be related, same messed up genes.

    We're allowed 1 buck a year here, and 6 deer total. I won't shoot anything that's not mature, or a trophy buck till late in the season. That being said, if it was getting late in the season, I had a buck tag to fill, both of those would make it to the high priority list. Take 'em out, make room for better stock.
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