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#3094951 - 12/25/12 12:38 PM An Exercise in Aging a Particular Buck
Wes Parrish
16 Point


Registered: 06/12/02
Posts: 18639
Loc: Knoxville-Dover-Union City, TN

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This pic is from 11-27-2010 of a particular Stewart Co., TN buck I was monitoring. I'd say the rut peak was about a week or so earlier than the pic, but notice he appears to be out "cruising" in the late morning.

Also notice he has only one antler. I believe he broke it off fighting another buck in late October. I also believe his having only one antler is why he survived the 2010 deer season, as he did provide multiple hunters with high-probability shots, and some were about to pull their triggers, only stopping upon realizing he "only had one antler, so I let him walk".

Not only has this particular buck played into "Wesley's High Grading Theory", but he (and a few others) have interjected much about the few above-average-antlered 1 1/2 to 3 1/2's that survive to maturity (4 1/2 and older).

Will add more to this thread later.

But for now, what would you guess his age to have been in the Fall of 2010 when this pic was taken?


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#3094954 - 12/25/12 12:40 PM Re: An Exercise in Aging a Particular Buck [Re: Wes Parrish]
Andy S.
TnDeer Old Timer
14 Point


Registered: 07/26/99
Posts: 7608
Loc: Atoka, TN

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Based on this pic, 2.5.
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Andy S.

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#3094961 - 12/25/12 12:45 PM Re: An Exercise in Aging a Particular Buck [Re: Andy S.]
Pine Ridge
4 Point


Registered: 09/19/11
Posts: 147
Loc: Homestead, Fl/Lewis Co. Tn.

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looks on the younger side to me 2-2.5
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#3094997 - 12/25/12 01:28 PM Re: An Exercise in Aging a Particular Buck [Re: Pine Ridge]
primos32
6 Point


Registered: 12/26/07
Posts: 827
Loc: Savannah, TN

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I would say 2 1/2
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#3094999 - 12/25/12 01:28 PM Re: An Exercise in Aging a Particular Buck [Re: Pine Ridge]
W.Seay
14 Point


Registered: 01/17/06
Posts: 7991
Loc: Collierville,TN.

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2.5
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To one with faith, no explanation is necessary. To one without faith, no explanation is possible.

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#3095008 - 12/25/12 01:35 PM Re: An Exercise in Aging a Particular Buck [Re: W.Seay]
Master Chief
8 Point


Registered: 10/11/11
Posts: 2415
Loc: Henderson County

sleepy Online
2.5 Would you mind telling me what exactly your theory is?
_________________________
It's not what you got, it's what you give-Tesla

Don't go ridin' on that long black train ;\)

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#3095046 - 12/25/12 02:26 PM Re: An Exercise in Aging a Particular Buck [Re: Master Chief]
Wes Parrish
16 Point


Registered: 06/12/02
Posts: 18639
Loc: Knoxville-Dover-Union City, TN

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 Originally Posted By: Master Chief
2.5 Would you mind telling me what exactly your theory is?

Let me preface by saying, over the past decade or so, most areas of TN have seen a noteworthy increase in mature bucks. A multitude of factors have contributed to this, including but not limited to, changes in statewide regs and widespread QDM (both great imo). So why have we not seen a comparative increase in 150-plus-class bucks? And, could the answer to this question be much of why certain counties (like Henry County) have such a relative poor showing when it comes to producing 150-plus-class bucks? (Am picking on Henry Co. because it is usually near the top in annual deer harvests, great soils, lots of agriculture, and may have had more deer harvested in it than any other TN county over the past 50 years.)

"Wesley's High Grading Theory" is that those particular bucks surviving to maturity (in most of TN where hunting is moderate to heavy) are mainly those with below average antlers when they were 1 1/2 to 3 1/2 years of age. These particular bucks would always be expected to have smaller than average antlers for whatever age they might survive. And they are, on average, the bucks that most modern-day deer hunters have no desire to kill. Not to say many hunters wouldn't consider these bucks great trophies once they reach maturity, but rather to say it's mainly those with sub-trophy antlers when younger, that live to be older.

Those bucks 1 1/2 to 3 1/2 with above average antlers are killed off (by human hunters) at a much higher rate, meaning relatively few of the "above average" bucks are among those bucks surviving to 4 1/2 and older. Should you notice most of the harvested 4 1/2 and older bucks are scoring LESS than most of the 3 1/2's, you probably are experiencing a high level of "antler high grading" of the best 3 1/2 & younger bucks in your hunting area.

This "antler high grading" is probably made much worse by most of the "reasonable" antler restrictions that are used by some WMA's and hunting clubs. While antler restrictions typically allow for a lot more bucks to live another year or two older, they shift the kill more onto the largest antlered of the younger bucks, which can be killed off at a much higher rate than would have occurred had the hunters not been under any antler restrictions at all.

The bottom line becomes this:

We may have had more 150-class-plus "older" bucks in TN several years ago than we have now, even though we have many times more mature bucks today. In the past, bucks were killed more randomly, whereby it's possible more of the above averaged antlered younger bucks were included in those that survived to 4 1/2 or older. But today, those smaller antlered ones are repeatedly passed up by many different hunters, as each hunter "holds out" for something better, with the hunters collectively often just killing off the very best top-end yearling and 2 1/2-yr old bucks in the hunting area. That leaves only the smallest antlered ones to become "older".

IMO, the only way to mostly eliminate this high-grading issue would be to kill no bucks younger than 4 1/2. This would not be practical for most hunters, but perhaps a growing number are seeing the benefits (assuming their goal is to take more larger antlered older bucks).

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#3095055 - 12/25/12 02:34 PM Re: An Exercise in Aging a Particular Buck [Re: Wes Parrish]
Wes Parrish
16 Point


Registered: 06/12/02
Posts: 18639
Loc: Knoxville-Dover-Union City, TN

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Let me also state that this antler high grading has been an issue with the modern-day deer hunters all along. It's not anything new, but may be becoming a greater factor, as more of the hunter harvests are shifting away from just "any" buck to only those bucks with "larger" antlers (most of which are 2 1/2 years old when killed).

Most hunters consider a 6-point yearling to be a better "trophy" than a spike yearling. Consequently, many hunters began voluntarily passing up spike bucks. As hunters (collectively) killed more 6 to 8-pt yearlings, they started holding out more for a "nice" 2 1/2-yr-old buck, or ANY buck with 8 or more points. Problem was, the bucks with the greatest genetic make-up for growing high-scoring antlers would commonly have 8 points as yearling bucks. The end result quickly became (with those "4 on a side" and/or "8 points or better" antler restrictions) that the very best yearlings were near 100% killed off. Yet in times past, ANY that survived was more than the "near none" experienced with these "reasonable" antler restrictions.

Similar can be said for an antler spread rule such as "15 inches", although imo, there is much less high-grading with spread rule restrictions. The very worst antler restriction (regarding this high-grading) may be "9 or more points", although "3 on a side" can slaughter the above average yearlings.

That said, sometimes antler restrictions can do more good than harm, but they may not be benefiting hunters as much as many believe. Most antler restrictions have basically just shifted the buck harvest more from yearling bucks to 2 1/2-yr-old bucks, which automatically insures that more survive to 3 1/2 and older. At issue, is which particular bucks do this surviving to 4 1/2 and older?

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#3095063 - 12/25/12 02:43 PM Re: An Exercise in Aging a Particular Buck [Re: Wes Parrish]
Master Chief
8 Point


Registered: 10/11/11
Posts: 2415
Loc: Henderson County

sleepy Online
Very interesting Wes. Quite logical as well.
_________________________
It's not what you got, it's what you give-Tesla

Don't go ridin' on that long black train ;\)

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#3095119 - 12/25/12 03:42 PM Re: An Exercise in Aging a Particular Buck [Re: Master Chief]
Diehard Hunter
CRAMP
12 Point


Registered: 08/01/08
Posts: 6584
Loc: East Tennessee

content Online
Do a little research on the results of Mississippi's antler restrictions and you will find exactly what you have "theorized". There are more mature bucks with their antler restrictions, but they are smaller than the mature bucks they were killing before the antler restrictions.
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