close

Privacy guaranteed - Your email is not shared with anyone.

One Beautiful Deer

Discussion in 'Hunting, Fishing & Camping' started by BigJon, Nov 25, 2002.

  1. BigJon

    BigJon

    Messages:
    63
    Likes Received:
    0
    Joined:
    Dec 6, 2000
    Location:
    Montgomery, Alabama
    Saturday was opening day of rifle season here in Alabama. I was hunting in a stand of planted pines in a three-acre field I plant each year in wheat, elbon rye, and ladino clover in an opening in some planted pines.

    A doe and a yearling entered the field just before dusk began to set in. I watched them through my binoculars for a minute, and then eased left just to check the woods behind them. Immediately, one of the most beautiful young deer I’ve ever seen stepped into the field and filled my binoculars. Now, I am 44 years old and have hunted in central Alabama for most of them, so I have seen a whole lot of deer in my life, but this eight pointer was especially beautiful. In the later afternoon sun, he seemed to have been painted with high-gloss brown paint – slick and shiny. His rack was at least twenty inches wide and had four medium length tines on each side. He was about 130 pounds and had good musculature, but a relatively thin neck and waist and long nose, and his rack was not heavy. I put him at 2.5 years.

    A six point then stepped into the field on the opposite side of the doe and yearling. The six crossed over to the other side, and the bucks split off and began grazing by themselves. I watched the eight for ten to fifteen minutes and then turned my attention to the six point. It was then that I noticed that the six pointer had a nicely formed rack on one side, but just a cluster of two or three small spikes on the other. I like to leave the woods undisturbed as possible on my place, so my heart sort of sank as I realized that I really ought to cull him.

    I eased my rifle into position and spent an inordinate amount of time studying the six through the riflescope in the hope that maybe I had seen it wrong, but I hadn’t, so I settled myself to fire. At the moment my thumb touched the safety, both bucks turned took three leaps back into the woods, and disappeared. Three minutes later, I heard a shot from the adjacent property from the direction they’d headed. I hope they didn’t shoot the 8, but I’ll bet they did. Oh well. At least I did have the pleasure of seeing him.
     
  2. ithaca_deerslayer

    ithaca_deerslayer

    Messages:
    23,792
    Likes Received:
    11,285
    Joined:
    Jul 11, 2000
    Location:
    Upstate NY, USA
    I'm confused. I understand appreciating the animals. But you were out there hunting, right? Why didn't you shoot the 8 pointer? Did you decide that you'd rather let the healthier buck live and breed, and take the deformed 6 pointer?
     

  3. BigJon

    BigJon

    Messages:
    63
    Likes Received:
    0
    Joined:
    Dec 6, 2000
    Location:
    Montgomery, Alabama
    Hello, Ithaca. Yes, you've hit the nail on the head. The deal is that we have so many darned deer down here that stern management practices have great effect in short order. I don't think the 8 ws necessarily healthier, but it did have a much superior rack for a deer that age.

    Our management practices are really rather simple. First, we try to hammer the does pretty hard to keep their relative numbers down. Second, we don't shoot any bucks except wall-hangers and culls. We define "wall-hanger" as just that - if you shoot it, you shoulder mount it and put it on your wall. That keeps folks conservative on the iffy ones, and it provides us with lots of bucks to enjoy looking at. Other clubs I've hunted are even tighter - they only allow one buck a year even though the legal limit here is one buck and one doe a day from October 15 - January 31. Folks in that club can shoot a second buck, but it cost's 'em four figures, and that money goes back into management, for instance plantings.

    This particular eight exhibited the characteristics of a young animal, and with a rack like that, he'd be a real nice trophy in a year or two. Shooting that guy would have at best gotten some might dirty looks from any experienced deer hunter in our area, and in some camps it would have resulted in a fine or expulsion of the hunter.

    Concerning culls, we shoot 'em but only with the knowledge that we'd better darn well be right when we pull the trigger! When we get back to camp, everyone better darn well agree the deer needed to be shot, or penalties will be forthcoming. I stay out of the spike debate, but this six pointer was obviously genetically deficient, so I decided to remove him from the gene pool just as you'd deduced.

    Unfortunately, the folks who hunt the property at one edge of mine shoot whatever moves, and that's the direction these deer went.

    Regards,
    Jon
     
  4. ithaca_deerslayer

    ithaca_deerslayer

    Messages:
    23,792
    Likes Received:
    11,285
    Joined:
    Jul 11, 2000
    Location:
    Upstate NY, USA
    That's a different world than where I am. No club hunting that I know of around NYS (not with their own managed deer populations). Here it is usually first buck first shoot. Sure, some of the hunters will wait for a bigger rack. But most take the first buck they get the opportunity to take.

    What does that mean for the population? I think it means the harvest is mostly young and naive bucks. The few smarter ones that learn quickly and have some luck head to the thickets and stay away from the hunters. They get bigger racks as they age. Feed is a big factor with the racks, so size varies by region within NYS. But I don't think there is any sort of management going on that leads to genetically bigger racks.
     
  5. BigJon

    BigJon

    Messages:
    63
    Likes Received:
    0
    Joined:
    Dec 6, 2000
    Location:
    Montgomery, Alabama
    Yep, it's definitely a luxury having so many animals and such liberal limits. I agree with you - the young 'uns are the first to go, and also that it's pretty hard to improve genetics except by trying to remove genetically inferior bucks. Hard to make certain the one you're shooting is, in fact, genetically inferior, so we only do it when it's very obvious. It's a bit easier here since we don't have a nutrition problem where food is supplemented year round. Most of the does have two fawns, and all of the deer are full bodied.

    I'll tell ya, talking about "smart" deer being harder to hunt, it applies to does too - as I said, we hit the does hard, and let me tell you, the old ones are 'bout as wary as the older bucks! A recurring problem that we see with less experienced hunters shooting does is that they often end up shooting button bucks. There are a couple of ways to get around that. First, we tell them never to shoot the first deer that walks into the field. It's usually a button buck. Better to wait for additional deer to compare too. Also, we'll often see a string of anterless deer entering a field. You can pretty much count on the leader being a mature doe, so we take that one.

    Great time of year, ain't it?

    Regards,
    Jon
     
  6. m65swede

    m65swede

    Messages:
    165
    Likes Received:
    0
    Joined:
    Oct 22, 2000
    Location:
    Central Illinois, USA
    ithaca_deerslayer's comments regarding typical deer hunter behavior in NYS pretty much reflects my experiences during the years I hunted there. Bucks simply were not allowed to reach maturity; awfully hard to grow a 180 inch rack on a 1.5 year old buck!

    Of the 4 factors most influential in producing trophy deer - habitat, genetics, food and age - seems like the age issue is most often overlooked. I have a "mistake" buck here that I surely wish I had killed a year or 2 later. Nice 2.5 year old 11 point buck with a wide sprung rack. He would have been a Pope & Young buck in 1 year and probable B&C trophy in 2 years.

    I'm really optimistic about these deer management programs after witnessing the results obtained by a bowhunting friend on his 50 acres of property. His co-owner and he really hammer the does hard; usually kill 12-20 per season. But they limit themselves to 1 mature buck per year. They allow killing a 2nd buck but require that the second one measure 150" or more.

    They permit only bowhunting on the property and have had great results. My buddy has shot a P&Y record book buck in each of the last 4 seasons. His latest was taken on Nov 12, a real stud that measured 199 inches and field dressed 220#! He appears to be 5.5 years old. Best part is that he had seen the buck before and was able to videotape him the afternoon of the kill.

    I'll post a picture when I can.

    Swede