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Had an interesting conversation where a really good deer hunter I know killed a substandard buck because he was a menace and a bully and dominated his farm.
I find this to be a very interesting theory that may have merit.
This week I killed my biggest Connecticut buck ever on Sunday. Since then, at least five 3-4 year olds I’ve never seen before have appeared.
What do you think about this theory?
In my experience, it has merit. I don’t think the more mature bucks expose themselves when there are more immature bucks in the area. I don’t think they like the competition. The fewer immature bucks, the better chance of seeing mature bucks during daylight hours.
I think it is common sense. Regardless of size if a billy deer drives off bucks that’s bad. The bigger concern is that we haven’t seen any of the bucks pat has kille this year yet.
We've seen and killed a couple bully bucks. Most here seem to be heavy 8 points that lacked significant spread. They have an arrogance about them, larger bucks don't really mess with them, even run away when they see them. I figured the heavier, narrow racks gave them a advantage in fights.
My brother killed a 9 point buck in Adams county Ohio that scored 131 gross with main beams that carried 7 inches of mass on every main beam measurement and weighed 275 pound dressed.
He had dried blood on the tips of all of his tines and didn’t appear have any wounds on his body. One ear had a single split and the other had two.
We had not seen a good buck in the area for over week between four hunters. Two days after the he killed the buck there were three or four bucks seen that would score between 140 to 160 had there antlers not been broken.
My other brother took a picture of a160ish class buck that had his right main beam broken just past the G2 not 150 yards where the big brute was shot.
The weird thing was that broken bucks main beam would have measured close to six inches. We all were amazed at how much force that it would have taken to break a main beam that big.
I killed this one a few years back the landowner called him a "rack breaker".He was glad he was gone.
I’ve seen it before, so I’ll buy it. Usually the bully term is attached to a buck that will have a smaller rack.
2018 I killed a 9 point that was all over my trail cameras. He stood up from his bed to work some scrapes and I shot him on Halloween. At that time he was the only consistent buck I was seeing. That same year I also had a couple pictures randomly of a beautiful, bigger, but a younger buck. Within days of the 9 point being killed, this younger buck moved right in and took over. A week later the buck met the same fate.
I believe in that for sure An area can only hold so many mature bucks. If it's a super aggressive deer others will stay out of its way. I think any size antlers deer can be a "bully"buck but if it's a giant everyone just says he's dominant. If he has a less than desirable rack he becomes a bully buck.
We have one on our place now and the sucker is albino. Wisconsin doesnt allow killing of albino deer and he marches around owning the place. I wish he’d get in front of a f150. About 5% of the deer in our herd are white. Thier were 3 White bucks we new of this year
Rifle kill...225# field dressed, which should have put him around 290# live weight. But every buck owut there left when he would step out. Would maybe score 115".... basic 4x4, broke his left G2 at some point. Baseball bat handle mass all the way up hus beams and points. He qas a bully.
“I shot a bully buck”…Great, now another term someone can use besides “I shot a management buck”….lol
Just joking of course, it makes sense to me that other bucks will avoid an aggressive buck and once that aggressive buck is taken out others will relax and take its place until the next comes along.
I’ve seen it on my place before.
Bow Crazy's Link
I do subscribe to the theory after having witnessed the situation. Bill Winke talked at length about it through a few shows a couple years ago.
I don’t think it happens very often though. Kind of an outlier. These deer are very aggressive making them easier to kill should you want to. Because they’re easier to kill hunting pressure usually takes care of them. Kind of like how aggressive fish are the first ones gone from a lake. The non-aggressive trait definitely gets bred through more often.
Here is an other view point, Whitetail deer bucks are not territorial. Here is a great read from the National Deer Association. Here are some highlights:
"There are numerous well-documented behaviors, like seasonal core-area shifts, excursions, and other “happenstance” that could also explain the disappearance of a buck that was once easy to see, or the sudden appearance of a new buck. But some people conclude that the second buck must be a bully and should be shot as such."
"Nevertheless, just like genetics, buck attitude is sometimes used as an excuse to justify the killing of a buck the hunter just wanted to take home with them."
"Often, hunters worry about older, low-scoring bucks being bullies. There’s no need to dress him up in some imaginary costume of “bad genetics” or “bully” or “management buck” or “cull.” He’s fully mature. He’s a crop ready for picking. Take him to the skinning shed if you are fortunate enough to get the chance, and then collect the ultimate certificate of whitetail hunting achievement: a jaw full of worn teeth." BC
In my experience, body size, not antler size, is usually what makes certain bucks bullies. In my area, the bucks do a lot of playful sparring in pre-rut. They establish a pecking order before any breeding ever happens. Very rarely do I see any full-on battles during the rut. The dominant bucks are almost always the largest bodied deer. And a lot of times it's a buck that has less than impressive head gear, probably because "trophy" hunters have passed on him and allowed him to age to his full potential.
I've noticed that everytime my Dad or I kill a good buck, a new one(s) moves in and goes wild. It happened again this year. Dad shot a 4.5 y/o 7pt on 11/8 (95"). I shot a 3.5 y/o 6pt on 11/20 (65"). Both aged by deerage.com. Anyway, now we have an 8pt (likely 3.5 or older) going wild. Making scrapes, rubs, etc. He's been on all 4 cameras across 30 acres. We havent killed him yet but are trying. We hunt 3N (Putnam County) where deer numbers are very low and racks are small for what it's worth.
I think Bill Winke actually coined the term as it would be used now. I'm with Apauls, I believe it happens, but I'm not so sure it's common on every farm across the nation.
Don Higgins talks about culling bucks because they are taking up a "slot" (so to speak, my words) on his ground. A slot that could otherwise be taken up by a buck with more desirable antler characteristics.
I believe that there can be bully bucks, but I believe more in this idea of ANY mature buck could have a depressant affect on other bucks in the area, just because it's competition. And I find it very likely that a mature buck can suppress a less aggressive mature buck, or even discourage him from taking up residence there at all.
If you wanna get lucky at a singles bar, do you go to the one where there are 50 ladies and 50 male models? Or do you go to the one with 50 ladies and 50 little dips(&(*s?
Bake, that’s as good of analogy as any. ;-)
Hard to say the real reasons bucks come and go as residents of different areas. Typically what I've seen as far as "bullying" (whether it be for food or does) is one buck pushing another buck away, either by chasing a short distance, or just by displaying some body stiffening or posturing. But we're only talking a separation of a few dozen yards, not a mile. If the submissive buck stays a short distance away and doesn't show any hint of aggressive posture, the "bully" buck will usually ignore him after that.
I agree that aggressive dominate bucks influence movement of other bucks. This November I had a buck I wanted to shoot following a doe chased off by a smaller bodied and smaller antlered buck what was bristled up like a porcupine. The nasty buck drove the bigger buck to the bottom of a field and would not let him come back.
Two years ago, I had two big, mature bucks traveling together in September and part of October. Then the smaller of the two moved to a new area 400-500 yards away. The bigger one stayed in the preferred area.
Some days when the mature bucks seem to be on their feet during daylight in the area, I think that there is a noticeable lack of movement by yearly bucks.
Never really thought about it. I don't discriminate, I'll shoot bullies and push overs equally.
But seriously, the only time I ever thought about a buck being a bully was several years back when I started seeing mature bucks all with busted main beams on the left side. During the gun season a young neighbor kid killed an absolute monster buck that had a true full length double main beam on the right. That deer had such great mass on the beams and you could barely get both hands around the base on the right. Any deer that sparred with that buck had a high probability of busting a beam. I don't know that the buck was a bully but he was certainly the biggest baddest deer around at the time. This was in the days when cameras were just catching on and nobody had ever even seen that deer.
I absolutely believe in this. In 2010 I was hunting in Zone 5 IA and I saw a big buck all over the place. Everywhere I sat he walked past me. He was chasing does all over. I could have shot him 4 times that week. The only thing left of his rack was part of his left main beam. His right was basically gone. He looked mean and commanded the place. I ended up shooting a 150" (gross) buck that kind of acted subordinate and stayed around the periphery of the WMA. His rack was perfect and he walked around like he was on pins and needles.
Bill Winke also noted the same with the giant double G4 buck he killed. It was subordinate to another big buck on his place that he eventually killed. When the dominate buck was killed, the DG4 buck became much more visible.
Had a buck on my farm a couple years ago that I nicknamed Leroy Brown because he was the baddest deer in the whole damn farm. Watched him on two separate occasions run bigger deer off and had tons of trail cam pics showing him bullying others. As had been mentioned I think we don't see a lot of these super aggressive deer cause it's a trait that makes them easier to kill. Can't remember exactly how many times that year Leroy came within range of my stand other than it was one to many.
So we had a doe here for the last couple years that was a bully. It did not matter if it was a buck or doe or a fawn she would attack it. My wife and I had been talking about the decline in deer numbers around our place. I finally caught her across the creek where she was fair game. I put her in the freezer and with in a couple days our deer numbers were coming back to normal.
That double G4 buck on Winke's show was as a good example for sure. He was suppressed by the more aggressive buck, but then became much more visible when the more dominant buck was killed. Just a personality thing.
I always liken it to human personalities, even though I don't anthropomorphize animals. My roommate in college was a little wiry guy. About 5'7" but a horse, nonetheless. Very aggressive. Always getting in fights. A hound dog, always chasing the ladies. And always getting in trouble for one of these things. The flipside is my brother is a horse, 6'8", built like an NFL lineman. Very laid back. Very calm. Liked the ladies but didn't chase them hard until he found the one he wanted :) Never fought even though he could have done well at it, etc.
If they were deer, which one would be more visible and easier to kill?
From what I see on my cams is that I get the same bucks every summer and when the rut comes they move on down the road and a couple other bucks come into the area. Right after the rut those bucks leave and the summer bucks come back home. I think some of the so called bully bucks are coincidental in that the bucks get shot then the actual resident bucks come back like normal.
Anyone who thinks females can't be bullies, too, has never met my wife. She's 5'4" and 120 pounds of fury, if you ruffle her feathers. Just ask the guy who cut in front of her in the grocery line a few days ago. ;-)
I believe it to be true. On the place I used to own I had a nice 11 point four year old patterned pretty well. Best of all, he traveled in daylight a lot. About the first week of November this new crab claw buck showed up and I had his pics on every damned camera on that 217 acres, most times at night and at a trot. He was a thick necked big bodied bruiser for an East Texas buck. A couple days and my target buck disappeared. I ran the camera I had hung about 10’ high over a scrape and got six pics of the 11 and crab claw fighting. I never saw the 11 again. My theory is that he left and somebody killed him, but who knows ? I killed the crab claw about the middle of December after the rut. Boy, was he surprised !
Yup I believe in this theory. I also see this to be true when one mature buck is taken there is an up and comer to take his place.
Have to agree with many. First few years hunting the land I hunt in Ohio there was a nice 8 pt, tall rack not too wide. Decent mass, nothing crazy but he was very visible and many guys including myself passed him. He seemed to have the same sized rack the 3 years I knew of him except one year he had a club on one side and a clean 4 pt on the other. Many pics of him bullying others and have seen him pushing other bucks around. My buddies gf ended up killing him. Not sure how old he was I asked my buddy to pull his teeth but he never did. Also he was blind in one eye likely due to fighting so we called him "Ole one eye" haha bully bucks def easier to kill I believe.
7 point in 2017
7 point in 2017
His best rack, typical 8 point in 2016
His best rack, typical 8 point in 2016
I believe in the theory that a bully buck can suppress other buck activity and presence in a certain area. In 2018 I killed a buck that my neighbor called the "Moose Buck" and he was a neighborhood bully. I estimated his age at 6.5 years when I killed him and he field dressed 215# which is pretty big for the area around my home. My neighbor and I have several years of trail cam photos of him. He was easily identifiable because he had a short stubby tail that always stuck straight out. It was very interesting to see the changes in his rack over the years. I believe he had his largest rack in 2016 as a typical 8 point. In 2017 he was a 7 pointer with a typical 4 point right antler and an odd somewhat palmated left antler with no main beam past his G3. In 2018 when I killed him his left antler was back to being a typical 4 point and his right antler which in 2017 was a typical 4 point had changed to a very palmated 4 point with a broken brow. After killing him I noticed an increase in buck activity on my property.
Totally agree some dominant bucks affect others, and some of them are not the biggest racked or biggest in size wise either, yeah just plain bullies... See it around feeders... Once conversed with a wildlife officer about these urban deer culling in our state during late winter when they use huge bait piles, wondering if they were killing huge bucks this way... He told me they only try to shoot does, and the only time they will kill a buck is if one was so dominant and possessive of the bait driving others away they would have to cull him...
Remember reading one of Roger Rothhaar's chapters had a theory some of the bigger more mature bucks evolved into real loners, not bachloring up with others during the summer but being very submissive loner in his own world not participating in reindeer games...8^) Not even participating in the rut... Now that part I have a hard time believing, but being very submissive and spooky more or less a scardy cat, I could agree with... If ya spook easy and stay away from the rough crowd, good chance they live longer and time to grow bigger racks...
I once watched a 3 year old whitetail buck repeatedly trying to hump his buddy, a 3 year old muley buck for a whole afternoon. Definitely a bully. Must've tried 20 times. This was start of the rut and all the local herds were tended by big muley bucks that year so these guys hung out along the sideline.
Haven’t experienced with a buck, but old doe for sure. You get a few of those five year old grannies, they chase off every spike and fork they can. Tricky old ladies for sure.
I have seen it. Interesting enough I've seen areas hold several big bucks. Like 3-4 of them be killed on a 40 or 80 in just a few days time.
It happens,but to kill it for that purpose most likely didn’t help matters.
Had a guy in my circle of bowhunting friends telling a story about a property he was trying to get permission to hunt on. Went back to the landowner (a divorced or widowed woman) who consistently said no she wouldn't allow hunting. He gave her his number in case she changed he mind. Stopped by every year to check in answer was always no. Then one year he gets a call. Seems there was a bully deer on the property chasing all the other deer around, getting in fights, injuring them. "OK, You can hunt but only shoot that big antlered mean one." Which as I understand he did as she told him exactly where to find him and his patterns.
He also mentioned to her: "yah know he probably had a son or two..." Never heard how that played out.
Bake - your brother would be easier to kill cause he's laid back, predictable and a bigger target! lol
The only buck I’ve grunted in and killed was a bully. He pushed a smaller buck under my stand and I grunted at him. He thought the younger buck did that and came by posturing while the small buck cowered in fear. I shot him at 5 yards and he just kept staring at the young buck. He walked 10 yards posturing and started to pee on his hocks in a scrape and fell over stone dead.