Clubs Under Buck Management Programs

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Mike Belt

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I'd be interested in hearing from you that hunt under regimented buck management programs and how you're faring.

I hunt at Ames and we're in about our 12th year under a program that started with a 115" minimum then went to a 120" and then to a 125" or 4.5 years old minimum. Overall, I think we may have some older deer but I can't really tell much difference in the size of our bucks. I also think we may have fewer deer than when we started. Last year's statewide "button buck" change should have people looking harder before shooting does. You would think that those having been under a buck program for 12 years would already be somewhat attuned to looking harder already; particularly at potential shooter bucks. That being said, I think we're up to about 17 bucks killed that either met our minimum or were aged at 4.5 or older, somewhere around 14 bucks that met neither restriction, and something like 17 button bucks. That's 31 potential target bucks that won't be available next season versus the 17 that were taken this year. I think we need a $1000.00 fine to curb some trigger fingers.
 
Coldfusion

Coldfusion

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Mike Belt":2nkk58t7 said:
I'd be interested in hearing from you that hunt under regimented buck management programs and how you're faring.

I hunt at Ames and we're in about our 12th year under a program that started with a 115" minimum then went to a 120" and then to a 125" or 4.5 years old minimum. Overall, I think we may have some older deer but I can't really tell much difference in the size of our bucks. I also think we may have fewer deer than when we started. Last year's statewide "button buck" change should have people looking harder before shooting does. You would think that those having been under a buck program for 12 years would already be somewhat attuned to looking harder already; particularly at potential shooter bucks. That being said, I think we're up to about 17 bucks killed that either met our minimum or were aged at 4.5 or older, somewhere around 14 bucks that met neither restriction, and something like 17 button bucks. That's 31 potential target bucks that won't be available next season versus the 17 that were taken this year. I think we need a $1000.00 fine to curb some trigger fingers.
Do y'all shoot does at Ames? If so what's the kill limit like in them? And do y'all have stricter bag limits than state limits? Or just the size limit?

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Mike Belt

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Size along with age limits on the bucks. Free for all on the does. Management sets a quota and we're supposed to kill that many. This year I think somewhere in the neighborhood of 180 and we're still about 40 short. If we don't kill the quota set they bring in shooters during the summer and shoot anything seen. Ironically, if we weren't shooting too many (in my opinion), then we'd see more to shoot while hunting.
 
Andy S.

Andy S.

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Coldfusion":34qnjgpk said:
Do y'all shoot does at Ames? If so what's the kill limit like in them?
I laughed when I read this question. :) We (Ames members) have averaged 180 or so does over the last 13 years, with the membership killing 230 or so for a couple of years during that period. Straight hammering them. So yeah, we've busted 2,500 or so does over the last 13 years, along with 250 or so button bucks, in turn creating the ABSOLUTE SMARTEST, WEARIEST and SCAREDEST does I have ever hunted, hands down, regardless of any public land I have hunted.

The best trophy, and most rewarding kill, at Ames these days, is killing a 3.5+ doe with a bow, hands down, no questions asked. It is VERY challenging to say the least.
 
Coldfusion

Coldfusion

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I considered trying to join Ames, but if I have that much money to put towards hunting I'll probably buy my lifetime license first. You boys sure do kill some nice ones out there. Do they let you turkey hunt too?

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C

csi-tech

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My property is surrounded by QDM clubs. They have asked me to increase my doe harvest but that's about it. My buddy and I have implemented a self imposed 120" or better 3 1/2 year old limit. We stuck pretty close to it this year. Having said that, if we promulgated a 4 1/2 year old 125" or better limit? We would have gone home empty handed this year, but there would have been some whoppers next year.......

Or would there? There is no pressure at all on my other farm and it hasn't been hunted for years, maybe a decade. The deer are no better on it than where I do hunt.
 
Andy S.

Andy S.

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Coldfusion":2mfbagsm said:
Do they let you turkey hunt too?
Not with the deer membership. We have a separate turkey hunting club of 30 members or so (I'm not a member), and you get 3 turkeys for $1,500.

With the deer membership, you can squirrel hunt up until first juvenile hunt, then strictly deer hunting until the season ends. Very few members ever squirrel hunt. I am one of the ones that does squirrel hunt.
 
fairchaser

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Mike, i agree that this year looks pretty bad when you look st the boards but before we start increasing fines let’s think about some things. We’ve only killed 31 bucks total for 18000 acres. That’s only 10% of the buck population! If management blames us for killing all the future good bucks, I don’t believe it. How many of us have good bucks on camera that haven’t hit the concrete? Out of my group of four hunters, we have pics of 9 shooters that are still walking. They are out there. We just can’t kill them because we have educated the heck out of them. Never underestimate the whitetail’s ability to escape a hunter. The staff used to say Ames hunters cast a fine net over the deer at Ames and not much gets through. Not any more! The hunting pressure is very intense and even the does are catching on.

Is it possible that we’ve killed so many does and made them so afraid that we have also hurt our chances at shooter bucks? Fewer buck chases, fewer shot opportunities. Hunters get desperate and shoot something too small. There are many veterans on the bad and ugly boards too. You can increase the fines and that will help hunters stay off the trigger some but how many years will a hunter go with no buck before they get fed up and leave. I already know of one whose not coming back. It’s not me btw.
 
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Mike Belt

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fairchaser... Curious, where did you come up with the 10%? At one point I know Ames said we hold about 1000 deer on the entire place. At that time they were doing a yearly camera census and a post season spotlight census but I still never put a lot of faith in those numbers strictly because of all the available cover we had restricting deer sightings.

31 bucks, 17 button bucks, and 140 does = 188 deer. I've always heard an acceptable rate of buttons to the total was 10% which would be 18.8 buttons. We fall under that blanket but I still find it unacceptable considering that we shouldn't be John Q Public hunters and are supposed to be conditioned to "judging" deer on the hoof before we shoot. The same can be said for right at half the bucks on the boards not aging or scoring our minimum. I understand accidents happen. I've made them and I don't rule out that ever happening again but what is reasonable for a management program? I wrote a $1000 fine tongue in cheek. I don't like a lot of rules and regs and fines and that would not only turn members away but reduce the doe kill dramatically. Still, for those that seemingly indiscriminately kill buttons and below minimum scoring deer, especially if they have a history of doing it, there needs to be some sort of stiffer determent.

I agree there may be a bunch of shooters still walking. There is no way there can't be. A couple of them could very well be the next bucks to go up on the board.... or they may never be killed. They're great for motivation to keep hunting though. This topic is more about concern for what is being shot rather than what is available to shoot.
 
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BULL MOOSE

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fairchaser":1g15z8vw said:
Mike, i agree that this year looks pretty bad when you look st the boards but before we start increasing fines let’s think about some things. We’ve only killed 31 bucks total for 18000 acres. That’s only 10% of the buck population! If management blames us for killing all the future good bucks, I don’t believe it. How many of us have good bucks on camera that haven’t hit the concrete? Out of my group of four hunters, we have pics of 9 shooters that are still walking. They are out there. We just can’t kill them because we have educated the heck out of them. Never underestimate the whitetail’s ability to escape a hunter. The staff used to say Ames hunters cast a fine net over the deer at Ames and not much gets through. Not any more! The hunting pressure is very intense and even the does are catching on.

Is it possible that we’ve killed so many does and made them so afraid that we have also hurt our chances at shooter bucks? Fewer buck chases, fewer shot opportunities. Hunters get desperate and shoot something too small. There are many veterans on the bad and ugly boards too. You can increase the fines and that will help hunters stay off the trigger some but how many years will a hunter go with no buck before they get fed up and leave. I already know of one whose not coming back. It’s not me btw.

Allow and organize some small drives/pushes during last week and find some of those big boys.
 
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Mike Belt

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Bull... I don't remember ever having any conversations about deer drives there but I don't believe they'd allow it. I don't know if you've ever been on the place but some of our pine plantings and cutovers and native grass fields are so huge you'd need to have more drivers than we have actual members.
 
fairchaser

fairchaser

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Mike Belt":h1un637e said:
fairchaser... Curious, where did you come up with the 10%? At one point I know Ames said we hold about 1000 deer on the entire place. At that time they were doing a yearly camera census and a post season spotlight census but I still never put a lot of faith in those numbers strictly because of all the available cover we had restricting deer sightings.

31 bucks, 17 button bucks, and 140 does = 188 deer. I've always heard an acceptable rate of buttons to the total was 10% which would be 18.8 buttons. We fall under that blanket but I still find it unacceptable considering that we shouldn't be John Q Public hunters and are supposed to be conditioned to "judging" deer on the hoof before we shoot. The same can be said for right at half the bucks on the boards not aging or scoring our minimum. I understand accidents happen. I've made them and I don't rule out that ever happening again but what is reasonable for a management program? I wrote a $1000 fine tongue in cheek. I don't like a lot of rules and regs and fines and that would not only turn members away but reduce the doe kill dramatically. Still, for those that seemingly indiscriminately kill buttons and below minimum scoring deer, especially if they have a history of doing it, there needs to be some sort of stiffer determent.

I agree there may be a bunch of shooters still walking. There is no way there can't be. A couple of them could very well be the next bucks to go up on the board.... or they may never be killed. They're great for motivation to keep hunting though. This topic is more about concern for what is being shot rather than what is available to shoot.

Mike, I’ve heard that too about 1000 deer and it makes sense with 25 square miles and 40 deer per sq mile. That’s about normal for west TN. If you figure a 2/1 doe/buck ratio, that works out to 333 bucks. I don’t count button bucks as they migrate on and off the property. So, we are killing 10% or less of the bucks. I’ve also heard that mature bucks make up 25% of the buck population. We aren’t killing all our bucks. As long as we are putting this much pressure on the property, we aren’t gonna kill probably as many as die from other causes.
 
Bone Collector

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Mike Belt":u57kh8y8 said:
Bull... I don't remember ever having any conversations about deer drives there but I don't believe they'd allow it. I don't know if you've ever been on the place but some of our pine plantings and cutovers and native grass fields are so huge you'd need to have more drivers than we have actual members.


You may have to push it in sections, but I agree this could work if set up properly.
 
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muddyboots

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I’ve been in 2 leases the last 20 years. One we try to only shoot mature bucks and never kill a doe. I mean never. Hunting on that lease has always been outstanding until last year. A farmer moved and started shooting deer on a depredation permit. It sux now. Can’t even see a deer. The other lease we managed for racked bucks. The members enjoy shooting decent bucks. They kill several each year. We only shoot does the last week of season. Hunting has always been good there. Note here both leases does were protected. On the second lease the neighboring property had been vacant for several years. It got leased this year and they started out killing does and the hunting has just slowly went bad. Stands routinely u see 10 to 15 deer a time now ur lucky to see one. I’m sorry but doe hunting with firearms sucks in my opinion. If people could see the difference they would stop doing it I promise. I know I’ll get posted on for saying this but it’s just my opinion of the circumstances around me. I can’t count the people around that claim this unit L has really hurt our hunting. Just my opinion.
 
Snake

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muddyboots":22ybr7ee said:
I’ve been in 2 leases the last 20 years. One we try to only shoot mature bucks and never kill a doe. I mean never. Hunting on that lease has always been outstanding until last year. A farmer moved and started shooting deer on a depredation permit. It sux now. Can’t even see a deer. The other lease we managed for racked bucks. The members enjoy shooting decent bucks. They kill several each year. We only shoot does the last week of season. Hunting has always been good there. Note here both leases does were protected. On the second lease the neighboring property had been vacant for several years. It got leased this year and they started out killing does and the hunting has just slowly went bad. Stands routinely u see 10 to 15 deer a time now ur lucky to see one. I’m sorry but doe hunting with firearms sucks in my opinion. If people could see the difference they would stop doing it I promise. I know I’ll get posted on for saying this but it’s just my opinion of the circumstances around me. I can’t count the people around that claim this unit L has really hurt our hunting. Just my opinion.

I'm not a biologist nor do I know alot about management of deer but I can tell of experience only . We had a piece of property in Giles Co. since the early nineties but lost it last year and it was small according to most leases (93 acs.) . This place was covered with deer and we shot about everything legal the first few years as most everyone did but in the last several years we had it we quit shooting as many does and tried to only shoot the older bigger racked bucks . We also had fewer people hunting the property as when a member decided not to join back up we didn't replace them but according to most clubs we still had less acres per hunter . The last several years it became a buck paradise and we let quite a few walk each year . We had a similar property in Lincoln Co. a little larger with more fields we practiced the same strategy on this place as we did the other and it was even a little better than the one in Giles as far as bucks . Believe we shot any buck sporting a pretty decent rack but it didn't hurt the buck population . I said all of that to say this , I think you can actually kill too many does even though your ratio is closer . IMO I think if your property has more does than your neighbor your going to pull bucks from them come rut time . Logically speaking if your wanting some relations from the opposite sex then I would you would go where the ladies are , wouldn't you ? Even watched a hunting show were a well known biologist ( I think that's his profession) said that on his property he wanted alot more does for the reason I quoted .
 
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muddyboots

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Snake":2u3utas4 said:
muddyboots":2u3utas4 said:
I’ve been in 2 leases the last 20 years. One we try to only shoot mature bucks and never kill a doe. I mean never. Hunting on that lease has always been outstanding until last year. A farmer moved and started shooting deer on a depredation permit. It sux now. Can’t even see a deer. The other lease we managed for racked bucks. The members enjoy shooting decent bucks. They kill several each year. We only shoot does the last week of season. Hunting has always been good there. Note here both leases does were protected. On the second lease the neighboring property had been vacant for several years. It got leased this year and they started out killing does and the hunting has just slowly went bad. Stands routinely u see 10 to 15 deer a time now ur lucky to see one. I’m sorry but doe hunting with firearms sucks in my opinion. If people could see the difference they would stop doing it I promise. I know I’ll get posted on for saying this but it’s just my opinion of the circumstances around me. I can’t count the people around that claim this unit L has really hurt our hunting. Just my opinion.

I'm not a biologist nor do I know alot about management of deer but I can tell of experience only . We had a piece of property in Giles Co. since the early nineties but lost it last year and it was small according to most leases (93 acs.) . This place was covered with deer and we shot about everything legal the first few years as most everyone did but in the last several years we had it we quit shooting as many does and tried to only shoot the older bigger racked bucks . We also had fewer people hunting the property as when a member decided not to join back up we didn't replace them but according to most clubs we still had less acres per hunter . The last several years it became a buck paradise and we let quite a few walk each year . We had a similar property in Lincoln Co. a little larger with more fields we practiced the same strategy on this place as we did the other and it was even a little better than the one in Giles as far as bucks . Believe we shot any buck sporting a pretty decent rack but it didn't hurt the buck population . I said all of that to say this , I think you can actually kill too many does even though your ratio is closer . IMO I think if your property has more does than your neighbor your going to pull bucks from them come rut time . Logically speaking if your wanting some relations from the opposite sex then I would you would go where the ladies are , wouldn't you ? Even watched a hunting show were a well known biologist ( I think that's his profession) said that on his property he wanted alot more does for the reason I quoted .

This. He said it way better than I did. I’ve done it. My hunting for big bucks gets good on properties where does are protected from firearms. Bsk used to hammer me for this. Saying I wasn’t doing my part not shooting does. I’m sorry that just doesn’t interest me anymore. I believe if u have too many deer make more food. Don’t shoot more does.
 
M

Mike Belt

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I suppose there are places where the deer are over the carrying capacity but not anywhere near where I hunt. I've never seen a browse line either. I'm not nor have I ever been part of a deer research project and I'm by no means a biologist. All I know is what I and my fellow like minded hunters experience after spending a lot of hours in the woods yearly. There are many things that look and sound great on paper that just don't pan out in the real world. As far as I'm concerned the goal of having a balanced sex ratio (1:1 or even 1:1.5) falls into this category once you integrate hunting into the equation. It may or may not elevate the dramatics of the rut but if it does it appears to us that it covers fewer isolated locations rather than spread out over a larger landscape. As a hunter this means being set up in a "specific" location may be the only way to see any rutting action. I'm not saying does shouldn't be taken but when the gap in our sex ratio was larger we all saw more rutting action.
 
Snake

Snake

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We as deer hunters want our cake and eat it too , just a phrase ok . Some put in in countless hours preparing their property some of us don't let's be honest . Those who are dilligent preparing their property reaps reward if their property has the means . Some reaps rewards without much preparation due to having excellent property just the way the cookie crumbles . But IMO you have to take what your property has to offer even though you have did all you know to do so we as hunters are going to always be serching for a better or a more productive way . Management is good but not every property will give the same results back to the point of accepting what it had to offer and if that's not pleasing to you move on (sell it or move to another). We have a tendency (not all) to over think or over manage at times according to the area you hunt . Ames and other leases have large areas but others may not so your neighbors have some effect on what animals are frequently using your property . Not all practices work due to this factor and others so IMO when things are not working even though you have followed the advice of biologist then try something different as muddyboots said . Some times it's not all good to shoot a lot of does as recommended . Also as I forgot to mention the more does you have the less gets bred and if I'm correct they will continue to cycle until bred = more rutting activity .
 

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