Interesting Statistics - Ames Plantation

TNRifleman

TNRifleman

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I am kind of an analytics nerd and have been considering joining Ames for a couple of years now but my lack of ability to spend a bunch of time in the woods has kept me from joining. That being said, I try to keep up through a buddy of mine with what is going on out there and am always interested in what the possibilities are for deer in West TN if properly managed. Soooo, I had some extra time and I decided to look through all of the pics posted on the Ames site, record the stats of each deer and do a little analysis.

Below are the results.

Sample size = 190 bucks from the 2009/2010 season through the 2016/2017. This years pics are not posted yet.

* The average buck for this period scores 130.7, has 8.8 points, weighs 146 lbs and is 4 years old.
* Of the 190 bucks, the largest was 167 7/8 and the smallest was 91 1/4.
* 142 of the 190 bucks met the minimum score of 125
* Of those that didn't meet the 125" minimum, 44 were 4 1/2 years old, 3 were 3 1/2 years old and 1 was 2 1/2 years old. Based on this, I have a suspicion that deer that did not make the 125 and did not meet the age requirement did not have pictures posted. Additionally, the 3 1/2 year olds and the 2 1/2 year old were both over 120" and were from 2009/2010 which I believe was the last year of the 120" minimum.
* 53% of the bucks killed were killed between 11/19 and 12/4
* 33% of bucks killed were killed from 12/5 through the end of the season
* Just 14% of bucks killed were killed before 11/19
* Only 4 bucks during this time period were killed in October.

Below is a summary of the stats. The only thing that really stuck out that is really odd is that the average score went down between ages 3.5 and 4.5. 3 1/2 year olds that were killed averaged 133.9 and 4 1/2 year olds averaged 128, almost 6 points lower.
 
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MickThompson

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What you're probably seeing with the dip in score is antler high grading- bucks being killed as soon as they make the minimum score, then hunters willing to "take a chance" on a buck they are confident are older.
 
X-Tennessean

X-Tennessean

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As with most things seeing it on paper really puts things into perspective, or at least it does for me!

Would the number of hunters and the days a field not play a role in your percentages as well?

Good post, thanks for taking the time and sharing your info.
 
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Rockhound

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I want to think that big nontypical andy s. Killed out there was 2.5 correct?
 
TNRifleman

TNRifleman

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Rockhound":3sf5thb9 said:
I want to think that big nontypical andy s. Killed out there was 2.5 correct?

Andy's on there a couple of times. He has killed some good bucks out there.

The largest 2 1/2 yr old on the list was 142 3/8 but it wasn't Andy. I think his biggest was around 149 and was 3 1/2 or older.
 
david k.

david k.

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Mark,
You are correct, bucks that do not score 125" and are 3.5 or less are not pictured on the website. Typically speaking there 5-6 deer every year that are shown on the "Bad" and "Ugly" boards in our clubhouse...

I'm not positive of the criteria but I think the "BAD" board is for bucks that score between 115-124" and the "UGLY" board is for those bucks that score less than 115"
 
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TheLBLman

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MickThompson":wnyt7o7a said:
What you're probably seeing with the dip in score is antler high grading- bucks being killed as soon as they make the minimum score, then hunters willing to "take a chance" on a buck they are confident are older.
There is no "probably" about this --- you nailed what's occurring.
The best antlered younger bucks get killed quicker,
leaving smaller-antlered bucks to grow older.

About the only partial solution to this is less hunting.
Although, aged-based decisions,
such as shooting no bucks younger than 4 1/2 could work well if everyone was on the same page.

TNRifleman":wnyt7o7a said:
* The average buck for this period scores 130.7, has 8.8 points, weighs 146 lbs and is 4 years old.

The only thing that really stuck out that is really odd is that the average score went down between ages 3.5 and 4.5. 3 1/2 year olds that were killed averaged 133.9 and 4 1/2 year olds averaged 128, almost 6 points lower.
That is explainable by the hunters' antler high-grading of the best younger bucks.

TNRifleman":wnyt7o7a said:
* The average buck for this period scores 130.7, has 8.8 points, weighs 146 lbs and is 4 years old.
What "stands out" most about this to me is that
the majority of these bucks would have been illegal under a 9-pt antler restriction,
which would have also made that antler high-grading even worse.

That's why Ames doesn't have such an antler restriction,
and they're trying to get more hunters on the age-based bandwagon.
 
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pass-thru

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I would say that the apparent drop in score from 3-4 could be in part due to hunters relying not just on meeting the rack score for a legal harvest, but also the unlimited rack score on mature deer. In other words, low scoring 3 year olds are off limits, but no low scoring 4 year olds. So even if a low scoring 3 year old is killed, it won't show up in the photos. The results are therefore skewed both by the data revealed, and the decision to kill in the field.
 
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deerchaser007

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Here is what sticks out to me. Total 190 bucks over a 7 year trend. That would average 27 per year, and with 18000 acres, only 1 buck taken per sq mile per year. No way your high grading your younger bucks with those numbers, even if the herd was a modest guess at 25 per sq mile.
 
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TheLBLman

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pass-thru":3kypyc5l said:
So even if a low scoring 3 year old is killed, it won't show up in the photos. The results are therefore skewed both by the data revealed, and the decision to kill in the field.
I was referring to the complete data set, not just the photos which exclude the low-scoring younger bucks.

deerchaser007":3kypyc5l said:
Here is what sticks out to me.
Total 190 bucks over a 7 year trend. That would average 27 per year, and with 18000 acres, only 1 buck taken per sq mile per year.
I agree, that "sticks out" as a low number.
But it is instructive in demonstrating how relatively few bucks, at any age, are actually appearing to gross score over about 130, period, at least in TN or this part of TN (which is above average growing conditions for TN).

deerchaser007":3kypyc5l said:
No way your high grading your younger bucks with those numbers, even if the herd was a modest guess at 25 per sq mile.
Respectfully disagree.
There is significant antler high-grading here of the best 2 1/2's & 3 1/2's.
Remember, those "best" ones may be only 1 or 2 deer of those 25 per square mile.
Just killing one of them every other year could essentially wipe out the best top end bucks before they reach maturity.

As an aside, IMO, the average mature buck in Stewart Co, TN (where I'm more familiar) is only gross scoring in the low 120's.
Sure, some are breaking 140 and higher, but they are outnumbered by those not breaking 115.
Some of them are scoring on the low side due to broken tines and broken main beams, but that is a factor everywhere.

Just saying, it appears part of why the buck kill at Ames is low is due to their criteria excluding most 3 1/2 and younger bucks. Absolutely nothing wrong with how they're doing it, but when a 2 1/2 or 3 1/2 gets killed there, he is usually going to be one of the best of the best antlered of his age class. Those surviving to 4 1/2 and older would then tend to be those with below average antler genetics.
 
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Grnwing

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I am surprised for the acreage and regulations that there are only 20+ bucks harvested a year. I would be curious about the hunter days and how those relate to harvest records. I imagine there is a spike in hunting over Thanksgiving week/peak rut compared to the middle of archery season and correlating to increased harvest during that time. Also makes me wonder what would be a good number for mature bucks 4.5+ per acre. With 18000 acres and 100 members(180 ac per hunter), is there too much hunting pressure on Ames to support their objectives.
 
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Mike Belt

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I don't know the numbers projected but at one time Ames claimed the 18,600 acres held a yearly sustained 1000 deer. That was before the 3 doe/day began and when the antler minimum was 115". I know they used to run a camera census but even at that because of the terrain and it's features I never really put a lot of faith in those numbers. That was when the doe kill wasn't as high as it is now. For the last few years there have been 175-200 does taken yearly plus the bucks. Just my opinion but I don't think we have near the number of deer now we had when the club first began. Couple that with the fact that so much of the land we have is basically unhuntable. The deer can survive in these places and never be seen and I believe a good portion of them do just that. As far as so many bucks scoring mid 120s to low 130s being killed... I believe that a good percentage of the members see a good rack, shoot, and then ground check hoping he'll score or age. Not everyone, but a good many from year to year. Still, there's a lot of diversified land and hunting to be had and there are a few dandies running around. All you have to do is pinpoint where they might be on 18,600 acres while they're not bedded down in the couple thousand+ acres that you can't even begin to walk through.
 
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TheLBLman

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TheLBLman":1fvteyjm said:
Just saying, it appears part of why the buck kill at Ames is low is due to their criteria excluding most 3 1/2 and younger bucks.
Allow me to expand a bit on this, again, I see nothing "wrong" with anything they're doing,
and these comments are meant to add to what Mike just pointed out above.

One thing many hunters (and deer managers) seem to not appreciate is the "rut range" of the average buck.
It can be several linear miles in a single 24-hr period. If they stumble across a hot doe 5 miles from their normal "home" area, they often stay with that doe for a day or two. There, in unfamiliar territory, stupid hormones raging, they often get themselves shot, miles beyond the property boundary where perhaps some avid hunter has numerous pics and is hunting specifically for a buck he doesn't realize was killed miles away.

Even with extremely large properties, there are going to be substantial "losses" of bucks passed, as a substantial percentage of them will get killed on the adjoining properties (unless those properties were also incredibly huge and using similar criteria).

Think about this:

Say you have a property that's 10 miles long x 3 miles wide.
That equals about 19,200 acres, near the acreage of Ames.
IMO, 100% of the bucks should be expected to range off a property of this configuration and size.

Expand the thought to include an additional 1-mile wide perimeter around the 19,200 acre "tract", except on this 1-mile perimeter,
none of the buck antler restrictions apply, just assume it's "same as statewide".

That 1-mile perimeter equals an ADDITIONAL 19,200 acres within 1 mile of the first 19,200 acres!
(approximately 5 sq miles each end, 10 each side = 30 square miles within a mile of a 19,200 acre tract.)

What happens if your neighbors shoot MOST 2 1/2-yr-old or older bucks?
This is part of why the Ames kill of target bucks seems a bit on the low side, imo.

"Quality" deer management seems to be working pretty well in many parts of TN,
since so many hunters are willing to pass up yearling bucks, and many holding out for 3 1/2 or older.
But don't confuse this with any derivative of "Trophy" buck management, something way beyond "simple" QDM.

When the criteria is changed to true "Trophy" deer management that excludes most bucks under 4 1/2 from harvest (which is what the Ames criteria appears to be doing), the "returns on investment" may become relatively paltry compared to the returns of simple QDM.

Imagine the "lesser" results that could be expected with the same criteria on a more typical small hunting tract. Management goals can be set too high for the circumstances, although I'm not thinking that is the case with Ames, as I believe they do understand all this and much more. Just saying, management theory and management reality can be very different things.
 

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