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My take on horns
Whitetail Deer
Contributors to this thread:
Timex? 28-Nov-23
Grey Ghost 28-Nov-23
JohnMC 28-Nov-23
Grey Ghost 28-Nov-23
Groundhunter 28-Nov-23
Timex? 28-Nov-23
tobywon 29-Nov-23
12yards 29-Nov-23
Timex? 29-Nov-23
Timex? 29-Nov-23
tobywon 29-Nov-23
Jaquomo 29-Nov-23
Mint 30-Nov-23
Catscratch 30-Nov-23
12yards 30-Nov-23
Corax_latrans 30-Nov-23
Corax_latrans 30-Nov-23
Catscratch 30-Nov-23
fuzzy 30-Nov-23
Timex? 30-Nov-23
fuzzy 02-Dec-23
Timex? 02-Dec-23
Corax_latrans 02-Dec-23
Timex? 02-Dec-23
fuzzy 02-Dec-23
Jaquomo 02-Dec-23
Timex? 02-Dec-23
scndwfstlhntng 03-Dec-23
Corax_latrans 03-Dec-23
Starfire 03-Dec-23
longsprings 03-Dec-23
From: Timex?
28-Nov-23
Quite a bit of talk about horns, trophy hunting, meat hunting, private verses public etc. First off I'm blessed to be able to kill all the does I want so I admit my views are based on that. I'm actually having an excellent & frustrating season combined into one. Been hunting pretty hard & haven't seen not one single big mature buck , yet,,,but on the other hand I've seen over 35 young bucks,

Many of these other hunters would've been proud to kill & I'm 100% ok with that. I killed plenty of em myself over the years.

These days the way I see it is every young juvenile buck I kill lessons my chances of killing a mature buck in the future.

The biggest farm I hunt is 200 acres so I figure I've just got to have faith that a certain percentage will make it to 5/6+ years

I don't judge others & several of my friends will gladly kill bucks I've let walk.

So I kill does for food & just hope one of those little guys I let walk 4/5 years ago finds his way back in front of me now a full grown , MAN BUCK...

From: Grey Ghost
28-Nov-23
I've always preferred the saxophone. Or, are you talking about antlers? ;-)

From: JohnMC
28-Nov-23
If you would have giving me two guess on who would have had a snarky comment like that I'd have guessed correctly and probably one would have been all it took.

From: Grey Ghost
28-Nov-23
It was a joke, John. You've been known to joke around too. Lighten up.

Timex, I think your logic is good. You'll never kill a mature buck, if you always shoot the juveniles. It's tough to have that discipline on such small properties, though, when you know the neighbors will kill anything with antlers. You're lucky to have a large enough deer population to shoot so many does.

Matt

From: Groundhunter
28-Nov-23
I am more impressed by weight. Newberry MI, last week, 9 point, small rack, weight 246lbs. I like heavy deer

From: Timex?
28-Nov-23

Timex?'s embedded Photo
Timex?'s embedded Photo
Timex?'s embedded Photo
Timex?'s embedded Photo
Timex?'s embedded Photo
Timex?'s embedded Photo
My home is the blue dot at the bottom. The red pins are the plant nursery I do deer damage control on. You can clearly see how broken up into small parcels the land is on the eastern shore

I was there this evening, the gun pic was where I submitted this thread while killing time,,

The deer pic was the end result,,,they ask me to kill at lest 20 per season those two are # 15 & 16 between my son, myself, & a couple friends that hunt as my guests.

I'm blessed to have this opportunity.

From: tobywon
29-Nov-23
Mature bucks are very in tune to pressure and if you're on a property where multiple people are shooting that much on a property for nuisance control/crop damage for the farmer, those mature bucks wise up very quickly. You might get one that makes a mistake every so often, but that's not the norm. I'd say you have a better chance at a mature buck if you only focused on that, but in the long run you will end up losing the property because the farmer doesn't want that. You have a job to do for the farmer and you guys are getting it done.

From: 12yards
29-Nov-23
I'm primarily a public land hunter which gets a lot of gun pressure, not as bad archery pressure. I can't tell you how many yearling bucks I've passed up over the years. It's been lots. And I can count on no hands the number of those yearlings that I think I saw as 2.5 year olds the next year. So I've kind of given up on thinking my kills or passes have ever made a difference on buck quality or age structure in my home state of MN. If I need venison, I've resorted to killing yearling bucks in the last couple years because getting some meat is important to me and (more so) my wife. So why don't I just kill does for meat you ask? Well, of course I would rather do that, but they get so pressured here, they seem to be harder to kill than bucks in all honesty. I rarely get doe shot opportunities. We have early antlerless rifle seasons, youth seasons, abundant antlerless tags during regular seasons, etc. The does get pressure here. They are not easy, at least for me, to kill. When I go to other states I'm holding out for big deer, even on public land. Amazing the night and day difference a border can make in the quality of deer seen. I've seen more quality bucks on public land in adjacent states to mine in a week than I've seen in MN in 32 years of hunting on public land.

From: Timex?
29-Nov-23
Tobywon.... It's a unique place, roughly 200 acres but the majority is greenhouse. There's an awesome creek bottom that winds through the place & it's bordered on 3 sides by a county owned airport & industrial park.

12 years ago I delivered some chemicals to the nursery & asked if they had any problems with deer, the man said yea some, why do ya ask, I replied I was looking for a place to bowhunt & kill a few does for food. Didn’t know it but I was speaking with the farm manager. Can't remember how many does I killed that season but I've had full hunting rights ever since. The most deer I counted in one afternoon was 43. The most we've killed in a season is 25. Now perhaps 6/8 on average. There were 7 yesterday afternoon & I took out 2. As you can probably guess the previous hunters only horn hunted.

Also my reputation for killing does has actually gotten me other properties to hunt. But there's only so much my son & myself can do.

From: Timex?
29-Nov-23

Timex?'s embedded Photo
Timex?'s embedded Photo
This was the last good one I've seen there. 2001. There was a big one seen by 3 different people last season, I didn't see him & far as I know still alive.

I hunt bucks in the creek bottoms in the am & watch the fields for does in the afternoon.

From: tobywon
29-Nov-23
Nice buck. Sounds like a unique place. I have a friend that is in a similar situation, farmer wants as many as he can take off the property. It's a lot of work and only so much him and his partner can take out.

From: Jaquomo
29-Nov-23
What do you suppose will happen when our generation of hunters ages-out of the hunting pool? Younger hunters want big antlers, social media clicks, likes. Don't get those by shooting does for population control.

From: Mint
30-Nov-23
I see it on Long island now, our doe to buck ratio is horrible and you can basically shoot unlimited does. I've shot two does so far this season and hope to get another two before it ends in January. A lot of hunters here just won't shoot does but will shoot small bucks they aren't going to mount and we get two buck tags. Hopefully in the future they will shoot does as well.

From: Catscratch
30-Nov-23
"Don't get those by shooting does for population control."

That's actually exactly how you do get big antlers... by keeping the population below the carrying capacity of the habitat. Starving bucks don't grow into trophies.

In my neck of the woods leasing and outfitting is dominant and few are willing to spend grand amounts of money and vacation time to come home with with a cooler of meat they could have gotten for free in their back yard. Creates exactly the situation you don't want.

From: 12yards
30-Nov-23
The big question Catscratch is, how far below the carrying capacity? And what is the carrying capacity? In land that is ag mixed, it is extremely high. In forest land it is far lower. If you are familiar with the Camp Ripley archery hunt in MN which was renowned for big bucks, they started allowing an antlerless permit along with your either sex permit in the early 2000s due to there being "too many deer". Well, they have successfully reduced the population and deer densities are lower. The result has not been more big bucks. In fact, harvest of big bucks (200+ pounds) is about one third of what it used to be. And the top end bucks are not as big weight wise. It was common to have a handful of deer over 230 pounds in the harvest. Now 230+ pound animals are somewhat rare. So no, I don't think keeping the population below CC necessarily leads to more big deer, especially when there is a mix of agriculture in the area.

30-Nov-23
“ ‘Don't get those by shooting does for population control.’

That's actually exactly how you do get big antlers... by keeping the population below the carrying capacity of the habitat. Starving bucks don't grow into trophies.”

Just a thought, but never argue with anyone who didn’t read the post he’s responding to…

Lou is correct.

Our 3D course is overrun with does, because nobody with permission to hunt the surrounding properties has any interest in shooting any. Really the same problem on Private land state-wide: the guys who have spent years maintaining their bait sites aren’t doing it to shoot does. They can’t/won’t shoot anywhere near enough does off of the properties that they have locked up, and they don’t trust anyone else to do it. Meanwhile, even if it’s not their #1 intention, they end up holding does as more “bait”, so un-baited (but huntable) properties nearby end up being not productive enough to be worth “hunting”.

Then because the buck:doe ratio is so bad, we get 3 or 4 cycles out of the rut every year, for which the coyotes are abundantly grateful, since there are 3-4 rounds of fawn drop to prey on instead of just one.

Some people tell me that our buck:doe ratio isn’t so bad; it’s just that the big bucks are all sneaky and nocturnal, but when you see a 1.5 YO keeping company with a half-dozen does during “lockdown” and the 2 or 3 much larger bucks you saw a week or two earlier are nowhere to be seen….

So now recreational hunters are doing such a poor job of managing the numbers that we’re going to lose that responsibility/opportunity to those who are willing to get it DONE….

30-Nov-23

Corax_latrans's embedded Photo
You know you’re in trouble when this is a “herd bull”
Corax_latrans's embedded Photo
You know you’re in trouble when this is a “herd bull”
This is the buck I saw tending to 6 or 7 does. I saw at least 2, maybe 3 MUCH larger bucks in the space of 20 minutes prior to taking this picture…. So they were “busy” either tending to their own does or being shown off in social media hero pics….

I’m totally on board with Timex…. When I had access to great private land up here, the owner only wanted me to take 2/year, 1 buck & 1 doe. I had one rule for bucks: they had to be a “personal best” for the weapon in hand, unless it was the last day I expected to be able to hunt that year.

FWIW, if I had a property owner who wanted/needed me to take more than 2 deer/year (let alone 20!!), I’d probably never have a reason to kill another buck unless either the animal or the circumstances of the hunt were something truly special. My bar, size-wise, for that is probably lower than most around here, but that doesn’t much bother me. I can think of a LOT of things I would rather have than a taxidermy bill, and I have too many DIY Euros in the garage as it is…. Can’t justify shooting a buck for the “higher” meat yield when you can shoot all the does you can stand to process….

From: Catscratch
30-Nov-23
I was agreeing with Lou in that a lot of younger hunters want big bucks to show off so they don't shoot does because posting them isn't cool. But if they only shoot big bucks and let the doe population expand to much... to the point that individual deer don't have enough to eat, then it hurts the antler growth that they want so much.

I'm not familiar with the Camp Ripley history. I don't know how they decided there were too many deer. Did they do browse studies? Did they measure and keep records of relative weights? Did they go off of a gut feeling? If the deer had enough to eat before the population reduction then by all means it cuts down on the "1 percenters". Follow a bell curve and 1% of 100 is way less than 1% of 500. With what you said I'd think they weren't actually above CC before the population reduction but I don't know that. And yes, CC can be very different over just a very small amount of area and time. A deer living on the creek bottom with rich soil and mixed ag may have a very different nutritional plane than a deer 2 miles away living in rocky cattle pastures. Weather patterns count too. A population just under CC on a normal year might be quite a bit over CC if a 3yr drought hits. Lots of if's and but's!

Anyway, this kind of got pushed away from the OP. I agree with him 100% and practice the same. No reason for me to shoot a young buck in hopes to get to see him again several years later.

From: fuzzy
30-Nov-23
I shoot does because I like venison, bit it also helps the buck/doe ratio and controls population which in turn reduces demand on winter food resources. Both those help build antlers.

From: Timex?
30-Nov-23
Haven't worked for the farm chemical company for 7 years now.

Recently ran into a farmer I haven't seen in years , after the usual farmer talk rain, fertilize / lime prices, crop yields, prices per bushel, current problem weeds etc. He proceeds to proudly show me several pics of the bucks his son & grandson had killed over the last couple years, pretty much the typical 120" max 3/4 yo tops.......their deer their trophies, none of my business,,,,here's the best part, immediately after proudly showing me the buck pics he commences to start complaining about all the does & the resulting crop loss/ damage.

It's the same scenario over & over & over. Unfortunately in the modern society we live in these days that trophy pic is much more important than a freezer full of venison.

Vdgif is doing all they can, Unlimited doe kill the entire season. The earn a buck program, in which ya have to kill a doe before a 2nd buck is killed & again before a 3rd. But Bonus doe tags @ $18.00 for 6 tags. Burning a $3.00 dollar doe tag to be legal doesn't mean anything to someone not interested in killing does.

Ride around here an evening before a weather front is moving in & OMG. it's just unbelievable.

From: fuzzy
02-Dec-23
Timex they're "DWR" now not DGIF. "game" implies hunting which implies killing which is taboo now. We are taught to say "harvest" , "process" and "go afield" not "kill, butcher, hunt". Crazy old world out there lately.

From: Timex?
02-Dec-23
I agree,,,, however I'm on the coast & the Virginia department of game & inland fisheries is still honored here.

But yes tiptoeing around the "KARENS" is the sad reality these days.

I think one Saturday after hunting season & before tuna fishing I'm gonna have to ride my harley out there for a visit.

Perhaps we can swap some canned tuna for some canned corn spirits.

02-Dec-23
You guys are about enough to convince me to ask my BIL if I can come down and visit! LOL

Maybe I could hunt during the week while his wife’s off at work….

From: Timex?
02-Dec-23
Your more than welcome to hunt with me, even have a great place on the salt marsh to Bow hunt. I'm on the coast fuzzy the sw hills, not exactly sure where.

From: fuzzy
02-Dec-23
You're welcome anytime brother

From: Jaquomo
02-Dec-23
Fuzzy, in CO they were called "Game, Fish, and Parks" when I worked for them. Then it split and became "Division of Wildlife". Then they remarried and it became PARKS (and wildlife). Funny how they consciously reversed the priorities.Wokeness is an insidious disease.

From: Timex?
02-Dec-23
Gf if your serious your welcome. But honestly after rifle season starts it gets tough. Deer go nocturnal quickly. Next season if you want to buy a non resident va license, ill.give you a place to sleep free range of where I hunt & the use of my deer hanging cooler.

03-Dec-23
the area i hunt is by no means overrun with deer so i will usually take the first legal deer that presents a good shot opportunity...as long as its not a fawn or small yearling. as far as antlers go...we have antler point restrictions so that dictates what is legal.

03-Dec-23
I fear that the rapid spread a CWD will inevitably play a profound role in buck age and availabilty. As hunters drop out because of it, and/or get less interested in meat hunting, all that is left is "tropy hunting for antlers". Hunters will compete for a chance to take ANY buck and not be likely to hold out for ""the big one". Game commisions will be forced to lower antler size restrictions by popular demand. The Fat lady has sung. It is all downhill from there and I don't see it going well over the next 10 years.

03-Dec-23
Thank you, Todd — most gracious!

I’ll keep you in mind for next year when I know what my available time off looks like.

From: Starfire
03-Dec-23
Timex, I have a very similar mentality. What gets me is when a hunter passes on an obviously older deer because the rack is broken and won't "score well" I hunt older deer for the challenge and the challenge is in the age of the deer not his score and that break tells part of his story. Also, I have a pet peeve with hunting celebrities that pass on bucks that a normal person would never pass on like a 160" not being big enough. That sets unreal expectations.

From: longsprings
03-Dec-23
In my area if you see a nice legal buck and have a shot its best you take it. Now if you wish you can pass which is fine and your call. I mean you can always check it out on facebook when someone else shoots it. There over 650000 archery licenses sold and pressure is high

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