Arguments for low grading inferior 2 year old bucks?

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pass-thru

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Let me say up front that I am completely aware that you can't genetically engineer a wild deer herd, so in no way does concern for passing on genes influence this discussion on my part.

A number of years ago I started making a conscious effort to pass up 2 year old bucks, figuring that is the most important age class to protect in order to have older good bucks. But one thing that I've noticed is that there are always some 2 year old bucks that are way behind the curve in antler size....so, do these bucks ever catch up?

My hunch is that they don't. So, is there any benefit to keeping them around? Don't they just consume resources that could go to other deer?

To qualify, where I hunt there are 50 deer per square mile and you get three buck tags. I rarely use more than one and always shoot a lot of does.

I'm saying this is the direction I want to go in, but I am curious as to what are the arguments for and against low grading 2 year old bucks.
 
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GRIT

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Not every buck will get a huge rack some will some won't.
 
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TheLBLman

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pass-thru":28k80zlw said:
But one thing that I've noticed is that there are always some 2 year old bucks that are way behind the curve in antler size....so, do these bucks ever catch up?
Yes.
Many of them are NOT genetically inferior,
but simply "late born", often to a mother bred as a fawn.

Also, many of those in the 2 1/2-yr-old male cohort exhibiting "above average" antlers
are not necessarily genetically superior, but rather, early born.

The date of birth (early born vs late born) has a much greater effect on the 2 1/2-yr-old cohort's antlers
than the antler growth of 3 1/2 and older bucks. By the Age of 4 1/2, birth date is no longer having any significant effect on antler growth.

Bottom line, it is often an issue of birth dates rather than genetics,
and time (like another year to 3 1/2) levels the playing field.
 
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TheLBLman

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"Early" born male fawns (say born in April or May)
get a tremendous "head start" in food resources and antler growth
as compared to more "normal" born fawns (say born in late May or June).

But "late" born male fawns (say born in July, August, and sometimes even September)
get a tremendous shortage of food resources (at least on a comparative or relative basis)
to other bucks in their respective age cohorts (fawns, yearlings, 2 1/2's, and 3 1/2's).

Again, the disadvantage of less food sources on antler growth for the late born
is typically mostly gone by the time they reach the 3 1/2-yr-old age class.

The problem with "culling" in wild deer herds is
we will often cull the wrong animals due to our erroneous assumptions,
especially when the buck in question is 2 1/2 or younger.

In theory, low-grading the antlers makes sense.
In reality, the bucks need to be 3 1/2 or older before you start.
I'm personally more concerned about the high-grading of our best young bucks,
which I believe has become the lowest hole in the bucket of QDM.

IMO, the best solution to our antler dilemmas
is to go totally to age based buck harvests, simply ignoring the antlers.
In other words, don't kill any bucks until they appear 4 1/2 or older.
(A mistake would generally still be 3 1/2 or older.)
This generally works for me, but may be an unreasonable criteria for the majority of hunters.
 
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knightrider

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No to Young to know what they will be, heck most deer never start to blossom till 4.5, there is no way to know what they will do from 2.5 to 4.5
 
TX300mag

TX300mag

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I agree with LBL man about high-grading 2.5y/o bucks. With the rise in popularity of passing 1.5 y/o, the nicer 2.5s are paying the price.

I don't run cameras, so I'm often encountering deer for the first time with little time and have been guilty of killing a couple on public land.

I'm not a good enough hunter to target 4.5 as a minimum, but a mistake would more likely result in a 3.5 as LBL man said.

I would never cull a 2.5 y/o, or any buck for that matter. Back in my Texas days I killed spikes by the truckload, though. [emoji23] and I thought I was doing everyone a favor.


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Boll Weevil

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Agree with others...no way to tell what a deer is gonna do at just 2.5 years.
 
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landman

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I'm with Wes

Deer are being born over a 5 month period some are going to be better developed

Today while hunting I had about 15 bucks on 2 different does, over half were 2.5 year old bucks, a good looking crop of 3.5 yr old bucks for next year IMO, plus The 3 and 4 yr old bucks today wasn't bad eithe
 
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pass-thru

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I understand the late born fawn theory, but I don't think it applies to the vast majority of low grade 2 year old bucks. I have never seen a fawn on our place before May, and never seen one with spots past August....and I've been running trail cams for close to twenty years. Virtually all of our does are bred between Oct-Dec. And the deer are generally healthy. The bucks that I have been able to track from 2-3, or 3-4, that had poor antlers...some of them were pigs in the body, and none ever seemed to improve much. So is it worth it to save 4 that will never improve much, to keep one that might?

Here's an example, I could have shot this buck around the time the first photo was taken, don't know what became of him:
 

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MickThompson

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Deer aren’t cattle and it doesn’t usually work out to manage them as such.

How many acres to you have control over?

Buck management in a free ranging herd is simple- shoot the one that makes you happy.


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Ridgewalker1

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MickThompson":2jxz4us0 said:
Deer aren’t cattle and it doesn’t usually work out to manage them as such. Well said.

How many acres to you have control over?

Buck management in a free ranging herd is simple- shoot the one that makes you happy.


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pass-thru

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MickThompson":4bg6nxb3 said:
Buck management in a free ranging herd is simple- shoot the one that makes you happy.


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To suggest that this discussion resembles cattle management is just silly.

It is conversations like these that have advance hunters making educated decisions about killing bucks. 20 years ago most hunters just blasted at yearlings until they were tagged out and few had an opportunity at great bucks. Even though I hunt relatively small acreage in a heavily hunted area (7-10k tagged in my county each year, or 13 deer killed psm) I always feel like I have a reasonable chance to take a great deer going into the season.
 
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MickThompson

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Genetic culling is a legitimate agricultural practice. But it depends on good fences to keep an unwanted bull out and to keep the neighbor’s herd from mowing down your pastures.

As others have said, there is science on the relationship between birthdate and antler points/score. You can’t overcome that. Fewer bucks would probably set you back here by extending the rut, resulting in more late born fawns.

What do you think is limiting your bucks? Age? Nutrition? The average buck “wants” to be about 115” 8 pointer around here. Shooting bucks at 2.5 just means they will be never reach their potential at 4.5+, whether it’s a 100” rack or 180” rack.

By your own description, your area is heavily hunted. You estimate that 30% of the herd is killed annually- how does fewer bucks reaching maturity help you kill more big deer? Maximize your nutrition and cover, and that doesn’t mean just pretty green food plots. 70% of what deer eat in the summer is native weeds and browse. That might mean burning, timber management, or killing fescue. Then give the deer time to show you what they can be.

I’m not saying it won’t work, but I would have a hard time justifying it based on the current knowledge base we have for deer.


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poorhunter

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A buck (normally) will only reach its full antler potential IF it reaches 3.5 (sometimes) more often 4.5+ years old. Management FOR larger antlers should have this as the primary goal...more bucks getting older. It's simple.

Problem is large antlers are not every deer hunters primary goal, mine included.
 
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DRSJ35

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I think large antlers is what most people are hunting for.Most of the time they don't get it.So they settle for whatever they can get.I only hunt public land cause i have no choice.I let younger spikes walk never even considering shooting them.I know somebody might but i hope they don't.I see it as i'm not starving if i don't kill something. and this is the only place i have to hunt.Maybe just maybe i will see him again.But if somebody happily choose's to kill young one's.Then i'm happy for them.
 
TX300mag

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20 years ago culling was the "thing." Maybe not in TN, but in other places. During this time we've learned more through trial and error. Culling is still practiced on intensively managed herds in Texas (mainly high fence) but NOT on 2.5 year old bucks. These bucks are culled as 5.5 year-old 8 points for example.

There are still plenty shooting spikes in less intensive programs but IMO that is a compromise (excuse) that makes hunters feel better about shooting a buck.

The most accurate definition of a cull buck: a buck that will never be a big buck because he'sDEAD. :D

A management buck is the only buck I could "manage" to kill. :)




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TheLBLman

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TX300mag":60z0k9u2 said:
The most accurate definition of a cull buck: a buck that will never be a big buck because he's DEAD. :D

A management buck is the only buck I could "manage" to kill. :)

And somewhere in between, here in TN we have the "scrub" buck :tu:
 
TN Larry

TN Larry

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I see no reason to shoot one unless it just makes you happy. You are really not going to know until at least 3.5 and more than likely 4.5. BSK posted one on here a few years ago that if I remember right was just a 12 or 13" wide 6 pt at 2.5 and seems like a 100" 8 pt at 3.5. He blew up into an absolute giant at either 4.5 or 5.5, can't remember. There was something about him on his body that he could tell was the same deer. This doesn't always happen, but I don't think that smaller 2.5 yos are hurting anything.
 
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Smo

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I own only 79 acres, there are several other landowners surrounding me who own much more land than me.

We all collectively agreed to harvest only older 8 point bucks or better

The properties I’m refering to make up 1500 to 2000 acres, including my 79.

These properties are owned my 5 or 6 individuals.

The problem is there are others in the area who rent, or own land that do not adhear to our course of management.

One Guy in our neck of the woods owns 5 acres.

This Guy shoots anything he sees, and I can’t say that I blame him.

The man has 4 small kids 8 yo and under .

A Wife and Mother in his house and he works on a farm.

I’m sure if it wasn’t for the deer meat his Family would not eat as well as they do.

You can’t blame a man for feeding his Family.

In my oppion between Guys like I’m talking about, and road hunters managing small parcels of land is almost impossible.

The buck “We” don’t shoot today, leaves one for a hungry Family or a poacher to kill tomorrow .

By the way , I see more bucks 2.5 to 3.5 yo than I do Does on my property.

I still go by “ our” neighborhood agreement but feel like it’s not helping much.

Our agreement originally was 8 points or better. Not just for “mature” bucks.
 

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