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Shouldn't they be bigger?

Old 08-26-2008, 05:33 PM
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Default RE: Shouldn't they be bigger?

There are many reasons that these deer, assuming they are the same 2 that have been seen over a long period of time, are carrying spikes.

Age could be one reason. They could have been dropped late in the season and are not as developed as the other animals because they are younger. These deer my be right on schedule for their age, but not the age class as a whole.

Deer grow into their bodies over the course of several years. The skeletal system is the first to mature then their muscular system matures later in life. While they are developing these systems they are utilizing nutrients differently. Each system has requirements that need met and until these requirements are met there is little extra to be used for antler developement. This is a time were nutrition is very important. Being able to provide the devoping body with the best available food will allow these animals to meet their bodies nutritional requirements and hopefully provide them with extra nutrients that can be directed towards antler development. This is were we need to implement land management practices that will allow the land to produce at its maximum. If the land and the forage produced from the land is not at its maximum then the wildlife using the land will not be at their maximum.

A good example of this is where I hunt in West Virginia. The neighbors and I have tried to increase the average age of the Bucks harvested by putting in place harvest guidelines. We try to harvest Antlered Deer that either meet criteria for antler development or body development relating to age. We have seen and harvested several deer that met the 3.5 year old body development criteria but did not meet the antler development criteria. One of the main reasons for this is that we are hunting in a totally forested piece of property and there are no food plots. We rely on mainly native species management. The soil is poor and thus the nutrient uptake of the plants is also poor. Because of this the deer are having to work twice as hard to get the same amount of nutrients to maintain their bodies. When we have a bad mast year this puts them into a deficit. When this happens antler development is poor. All available nutrients are use to maintain body condition so that they are able to make it through the winter. Have this happen 2 or more years in a row and the herd is really behind the curve. We know genetics are good because quality deer have been harvested from this area in the past.

As to removing these animals from the herd based on the available info, I personally would not harvest them just yet. I prefer to wait until the deer are older and beginning to mature. Take into consideration all available info about the deer, the property and management goals when making decisions. If you wish to harvest these deer because it is legal to in your state or you have set the property up so that junior hunters can take a deer such as this, go for it. Removing them because they need to be culled due to poor development at age 1.5, I feel is not a management decision that I would make.

Just my $.02



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Old 08-27-2008, 01:50 AM
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Default RE: Shouldn't they be bigger?

Guys, this is 2008. It has been proven that spikes can grow into 150 and 160 inch bucks.

Whoever says you should cull a 1.5 year old spike needs to do some reading
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Old 08-28-2008, 07:43 PM
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Default RE: Shouldn't they be bigger?

ORIGINAL: Siman08/OH

Guys, this is 2008. It has been proven that spikes can grow into 150 and 160 inch bucks.

Whoever says you should cull a 1.5 year old spike needs to do some reading
I have. I am also more than willing to share my reading with the rest of the class.

Here is probably one of the most statistically complete and accurate study I have read:
Kerr Wildlife Area



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Old 08-28-2008, 08:01 PM
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Default RE: Shouldn't they be bigger?

That is a study on penned deer where not only the male side of the breeding was controlled but the does as well. There are no studies of free ranging deer that support culling deer.

There are studies showing spikes turning into decent or even trophy bucks though. There was a recent one in Louisiana where a spike was collared and it ended up getting shot the next year as an above average 2 1/2 year old. There are many other examples as well.

Here's a summary of the most recent study of free ranging deer by Kip Adams, a certified wildlife biologist and director of education and outreach for the QDMA.

Let's revisit the research projects. The results from Dr. Mickey Hellickson's recent culling study in South Texas are likely the most applicable to the average deer manager because of the intensity of the culling efforts and the size of the study area. Mickey and his colleagues intensively culled the smallest antlered bucks in all age classes for six straight years on 10,000 acres on the King Ranch in Texas. When the study was over, the average antler quality per age class was slightly SMALLER than when they started! While factors such as yearling buck dispersal off the study area could partially account for lack of impact, it clearly suggests that even intensive culling on this scale is unlikely to impact genetics.

So, should we be culling "inferior" bucks? If they are young bucks, the answer is no for most of the whitetail's range because they may have been born late or have been nutritionally deprived. If they are older bucks, the answer depends. If you have a surplus of bucks and you really dislike a certain buck regardless of age - then go ahead and cull him. However, don't expect it to make a big difference in what you see for antlers in the future. He's likely not siring a lot of fawns and of the ones he sires, the doe contributes half to their offspring's antler quality. Also, about 50-75% of yearling bucks disperse one to five miles from where they were born, so an average of ¬Ĺ to ¬ĺ of his sons will leave the area anyway. Unless you're involved in a trophy management program with a balanced buck-to-doe ratio, good buck age structure and optimum nutrition, I wouldn't cull him.
(Emphasis added by me)
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Old 08-28-2008, 08:20 PM
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Default RE: Shouldn't they be bigger?

ORIGINAL: npaden

Not to beat around the bush, but you are wrong on this. In free ranging deer culling does not work. TPWD has some studies on spikes and genetic potential but those are all with penned deer with control over their feeding and knowing which does are involved in the breeding process.
I have read most of those studies in depth, and have had the opportunity to view the underlying methodology and data of a few of them. Those studies are the most accurate studies regarding spikes, in both potential and regarding harvest recommendations because those studies had controls. Through those controls, they are able to eliminate the effects of all other factors and isolate the genetic factor in buck growth and development.

In a recent study on the King Ranch over an extended period (I think it was 5 years) the average antlers as measured in inches actually went down in an area where they used extensive culling of "undesirable" bucks and in another area where they did not cull undesirable bucks the average antlers got better.
I'm not certain which specific studies you are referring to, but without more specific information on the conditions and controls of the study, management re: culling spikes and average antler size is meaningless. Although genetics affect antler growth, they are not the only factor. It is very possible to cull for spikes and have antler size decrease. Drought and other conditions will do that. That doesn't make culling wrong, and in fact it doesn't prove that it is a poor management decision.

I've seen several instances where radio collared or other wise distinguishable young bucks that were spikes turned into deer that would be at or over Boone and Crockett guidelines. Does that mean that all spikes will end up as B&C entries? No, but neither will all yearling 8 points.
Were those part of some sort of study? If so, I would like to see the results of the study.

Could the yearling 8 point have a better chance at reaching B&C status than a yearling spike? Maybe, I personally think so, but there haven't been any good studies to show one way or the other yet. But the studies do clearly show that a yearling spike will more than likely end up a pope and young class deer at 4 years old if you let them live that long. I personally feel that a pope and young class deer is a trophy to most folks. I know I would have difficulty passing on one.
That's the whole point of management. Most places, at least in Texas, are at, near, or over carrying capacity (k). When the population is at that level, that means all of the natural resources available are being utilized by members of the population. For a new member of the population to survive, another member has to be taken out to make room.

With a spike, the genetic potential is just not there. That buck will never have the potential of a deer that has 5 or more points in the first year. That means they are an unproductive use of the resource. They are consuming resources that could be going to that 1.5 with 5 or more points, which has much greater odds of becoming a real trophy. If you don't get rid of the animals that aren't efficiently using your resources, then you are wasting time and money with any other management practices.

P.S. - Which would you rather shoot, a yearling spike or a 3.5 year old 130" deer? Based on statistics that is basically the choice you are making based on "average" antler growth in most areas. If you need the meat for the freezer shoot a doe and down the road you will be thankful when that 130 class buck walks by.
I'm going to shoot the spike every time. I'm not sure where those statistics came from, but I' not shooting a 3.5 130". It meets neither of the criteria I have for a shooting a buck. First, I'm not going to shoot a 3.5 deer unless its antlers have some kind of deformity. I'm going to allow that deer to age and continue to develop, because he hasn't reached his potential yet. Second, I'm not going to shoot a 130" deer unless it needs to be removed from the herd as well. If and when I shoot a buck, it will be because it is a trophy buck or it is a management buck. For me, that's going to be a lot closer to the 180" range. If I don't see a deer that fits either, that may mean I don't shoot a buck this year.
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Old 08-28-2008, 08:34 PM
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Default RE: Shouldn't they be bigger?


ORIGINAL: npaden

That is a study on penned deer where not only the male side of the breeding was controlled but the does as well. There are no studies of free ranging deer that support culling deer.

There are studies showing spikes turning into decent or even trophy bucks though. There was a recent one in Louisiana where a spike was collared and it ended up getting shot the next year as an above average 2 1/2 year old. There are many other examples as well.

Here's a summary of the most recent study of free ranging deer by Kip Adams, a certified wildlife biologist and director of education and outreach for the QDMA.

Let's revisit the research projects. The results from Dr. Mickey Hellickson's recent culling study in South Texas are likely the most applicable to the average deer manager because of the intensity of the culling efforts and the size of the study area. Mickey and his colleagues intensively culled the smallest antlered bucks in all age classes for six straight years on 10,000 acres on the King Ranch in Texas. When the study was over, the average antler quality per age class was slightly SMALLER than when they started! While factors such as yearling buck dispersal off the study area could partially account for lack of impact, it clearly suggests that even intensive culling on this scale is unlikely to impact genetics.

So, should we be culling "inferior" bucks? If they are young bucks, the answer is no for most of the whitetail's range because they may have been born late or have been nutritionally deprived. If they are older bucks, the answer depends. If you have a surplus of bucks and you really dislike a certain buck regardless of age - then go ahead and cull him. However, don't expect it to make a big difference in what you see for antlers in the future. He's likely not siring a lot of fawns and of the ones he sires, the doe contributes half to their offspring's antler quality. Also, about 50-75% of yearling bucks disperse one to five miles from where they were born, so an average of ¬Ĺ to ¬ĺ of his sons will leave the area anyway. Unless you're involved in a trophy management program with a balanced buck-to-doe ratio, good buck age structure and optimum nutrition, I wouldn't cull him.
(Emphasis added by me)
Here's the problem. Just culling spikes and measuring antler size does not accurately gauge the effects of culling, because genetics is not the sole factor at play. It could very well be that had they not culled, antler size would have been even smaller.
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Old 08-28-2008, 09:23 PM
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Default RE: Shouldn't they be bigger?

You do realize that the infamous Kerr study is based on deer that have been raised in an research area that is a whopping 16 acres and the breeding pens are less than an acre each. These deer have been under controlled breeding since 1974. If you are after those kind of results you could fence off your backyard and buy a stud buck and a few proven does andshoot your own 200" deer any time you felt like it.

I'm not arguing that in a completely controlled environment that you can't improve the genetics by extensive culling. You most certainly can and the Kerr Study proves that. I'm saying thatculling is not a viable alternative in a free range environment and studies have shown this.

In the King Ranch study they did have a control group where they did not practice culling. Under the same environmental conditions that population actually improved in average antler size during the same 6 years. These are degreed wildlife biologists doing these studies, not random individuals. They might actually know what they are doing.

The bulk of the study was pusblished in an issue of Quality Whitetails Magazine. I can't find it online though. I'll try to find which month it was in.

Here are some online articles that I found on the QDMA site.

Here's the full article that I pulled the quote in my previous post from - http://www.qdma.com/articles/details.asp?id=124

Here's another article on culling - http://www.qdma.com/articles/details.asp?id=84

Here's another article on spikes specifially.It waswritten in part by Dr. James Kroll (sometimes referred to as "Dr. Deer") - http://www.qdma.com/articles/details.asp?id=23

If you are really interested in learning about Whitetail deer you should really consider becoming a member of QDMA. The magazine is worth the membership price alone.

The key in free ranging spikes is that you really don't know why they are a spike as a yearling. They could have the genetics to become a 160" deer at 4 years old and just been born late or born to a young mother with poor lactation or a number of other possibilties. They could have the genetics to be a 120" deer at 4 years old too. In a controlled pen raised environment where you control the timing of the breeding and their entire food supply you can have pretty decent assurance that a 1.5 year old spike is a result of genetics and those studies are valid on pen raised deer. But not on free ranging deer. You could actually make a better argument on culling a 120" 4 year old deer than culling a spike yearling but even then it is not recommended on free ranging deer.

The radio collared deer were actually part of a study on deer movement.

Here's one of the collared deer:


Here's a link to the thread on the QDMA forum showing some of the other radio collared bucks - http://www.qdmaforums.com/showthread.php?t=13582

The spike above was by far the smallest buck collared both in weight and antler size when it was originally captured but had nearly caught up when he was shot a year later. Given another year it would have probably caught up completely.

Here's another set of pictures of a spike that a fellow QDMA member has taken trail camera pictures of over the last several years. He was able to keep track of the deer year to year based on the white socks on his feet.

Here is a picture of him in 2005 as a yearling spike (okay he is technically a 3 point but for all intents and purposes he would have been considered undesirable under the Kerr study):


Here his is3 years later as a mature 4 year old.


P.S. - These aren't the only pictures this guy has of this deer. He has watched it mature over the years and is 100% positive that it is the same deer.

So what do I take from this?

#1 - Shooting spikes in a free ranging deer herd has not been proven to improve antler size of the remaining deer.

#2 - You might be shooting a deer that could end up becoming a monster buck a few years down the road.

That's my 2 cents.

Nathan
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Old 08-29-2008, 07:18 AM
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Default RE: Shouldn't they be bigger?

great info...you can't argue those results...
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Old 08-29-2008, 10:21 AM
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Default RE: Shouldn't they be bigger?

It is very possible to cull for spikes and have antler size decrease. Drought and other conditions will do that. That doesn't make culling wrong, and in fact it doesn't prove that it is a poor management decision.
It sure doesn't prove it'sa GOOD decision.
With a spike, the genetic potential is just not there. That buck will never have the potential of a deer that has 5 or more points in the first year. That means they are an unproductive use of the resource. They are consuming resources that could be going to that 1.5 with 5 or more points, which has much greater odds of becoming a real trophy. If you don't get rid of the animals that aren't efficiently using your resources, then you are wasting time and money with any other management practices.
Is it 1980 again? It's been proven over, and over, and OVER that culling deer based upon antler traits is worthless. It's nothing more than a advertising gimmick used by deer "ranch" owners on television shows. I guess some people still buy it.
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Old 09-01-2008, 10:46 AM
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Default RE: Shouldn't they be bigger?

]ORIGINAL: M.Magis

It sure doesn't prove it's a GOOD decision.
That's just it. It doesn't prove or disprove anything.

Is it 1980 again? It's been proven over, and over, and OVER that culling deer based upon antler traits is worthless. It's nothing more than a advertising gimmick used by deer "ranch" owners on television shows. I guess some people still buy it.
That has never been proven.
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