I never realized we had a different sub species of deer in IL than across the river in Iowa. Interesting map... a sub species found in Mexico goes all the way into SD.
I don’t know how much of anomaly it is, I have one right now that hasn’t done anything from the 2019 season to now but I have another that put on about 40” from last year to this year and roughy 60 plus from 2 years ago. I guess you just never know.
On a side note, that last deer you posted is a hammer for north Florida
But with the follow-up pics shared, likely have at least one buck or two a year that like the one I shared at the start of the post just don't look much different at all, and again want to stress NOT just rack size BUT ALSO body shape / conformation. Have had a few bucks with distinguishing factors I've been able to track to apparent death at 7.5+ that never looked much different from year to year other than looking weak / declining in their final year.
Sounds from some of the responses that isn't unique to the south. Maybe even a result of not having top ranking relative to other mature bucks / having to settle for less prime ground, facing increased stress, etc...?
And will say I think Swamp Cat's spot-on relative to my observations when he says that he has noted his southern deer show their general hand by 3.5 be it impressive or not, as well as declining a bit earlier than might be expected once age 6 and up.
MUCH appreciate all the feedback. Know it's mostly been based on each of our own anecdotal observations (versus statistical measured ones) but still find it very interesting and MUCH appreciate everyone taking time to share feedback.
Tree Spud, if my latest posts seemed a bit defensive, they sure weren't intended to be. To the contrary, the primary drive for sharing is that I find SOME of our bucks far more difficult to age on the hoof than others. That has made some shot decisions real tough in the stand, though I've definitely stayed away from 2.5s, and moved from initially taking some 3.5s to aiming for 4.5 as I've been able to ID / follow certain bucks since moving to my place in 2014. Stranger bucks are the tough ones to age, since per the original post and follow-up ones some bucks keep the same general body shape and horns from 3.5 until declining.One of the drivers for northern whitetails to get big, is the drive to eat more as they go from summer to winter. They need to put on weight as ag sources start to disappear and they have to rely on different food sources to survive the winters. You don't have that cycle in your area and a very large buck may struggle in the opposite effect of your heat...
As I have evolved as a hunter, I started passing on 3.5 yr old bucks in pursuit of more mature 4-5 year olds. Getting a buck to 4.5 yr old in our area is very hard given the hunting pressure. I have only experience one buck on our property that was 6.5 t0 7.5 year old....
End of the day put in perspective the type of deer you have and most importantly, enjoy the hunt. If you really want to shoot a big trophy class buck, you can always travel to areas where they can be found.
Agreed which is a bummer that more neighbors don’t/won’t get on board with management objectives. When you have real world evidence such as that presented by Craig Harper and Marcus Lashely, of properties in areas that are thought of to be below average (central nc east tn mtn and fort Bragg) producing high scoring bucks it shows it can be done almost anywhere. The problem is it’s a self fulfilling prophecy. Hunters get in a historically low quality area and they say well that is a good deer for my area and bam it’s dead. Or the opposite happens, they aren’t shooting a 115” deer in Illinois because of the possibilities.Average mature bucks in our area (4 or 5 yr old) will be between 125 and 130. Plenty will never break 120. Maybe one in ten mature buck will be 150/160. For ever deer 4 yr old and older, there will be maybe five younger bucks. For us in antler quality compromised areas, We have to have sheer numbers of bucks, also. Not like Kentucky or Iowa where a three yr old buck is going to be the same size as our average mature buck. Most of us dont have enough property to have fifty bucks running around, so it falls back to several years between truly top end deer.
We, like bigbendmarine, have to lower our standards a little.
And even at that , antler quality is improving in a lot of areas - maybe areas within areas. Harvested Antler sizes in my area over the last fifteen years are double what they were in the previous 15 years. Obviously, the next fifteen years wont see as big a gain, as we are probably nearing the upper end of our realistic antler size. If it takes one out of ten of our mature bucks to make 150”, you cant realistically expect hunters to pass 95% of the bucks in hopes of killing a 150” deer every five years.Agreed which is a bummer that more neighbors don’t/won’t get on board with management objectives. When you have real world evidence such as that presented by Craig Harper and Marcus Lashely, of properties in areas that are thought of to be below average (central nc east tn mtn and fort Bragg) producing high scoring bucks it shows it can be done almost anywhere. The problem is it’s a self fulfilling prophecy. Hunters get in a historically low quality area and they say well that is a good deer for my area and bam it’s dead. Or the opposite happens, they aren’t shooting a 115” deer in Illinois because of the possibilities.
I do feel a little bit of a shift with the cost of land booming everywhere. People are not wanting to pay 4-5000/acre to shoot 4 points and basket 8’s. So if any good may come from that, maybe higher quality deer is a byproduct. On the converse, land is getting subdivided like crazy because of the cost and the guy with 40 acres doesn’t think he would be wise to pass because the chances of that deer hanging around are slim and none.
Amen. I was one of three boys when I was growing up, and if I had three sons that ate like us I guarantee I'd be harvesting more deer and less concerned over nice horns. I don't think my wife and daughter combined eat 1/3 what I alone ate as a teen boy. My brothers and I could put it away for sure and certain.Most hunters like a big set of antlers. But a lot of hunters like to eat deer meat, they like the excitement of killing a deer, they like the camaraderie around the meat pole, there is satisfaction in making your own jerky and sausage...