In shooting small bucks. This is not a bash post at all, I’m intrigued by the mental makeup of hunting decisions. I see people all the time shoot immature bucks as opposed to a doe and for the life of me I cannot figure this decision out. Im talking deer where the antlers are sawed off and thrown in the corner of the garage and never looked at again. The drive to fill a buck tag as if it’s some arbitrary goalline is interesting to me. Is it a pride thing? A skill (or lack thereof thing)? A fear of failure if someone doesn’t fill a buck tag? A I just want to be done and drink thing? I’m thinking of my neighbors, they shot 2 deer they won’t mount in a top area of the country for big buck potential. Why??? We have so many damn does if you need meat. Heck i saw both of those deer in bow range and they didn’t have a clue I was in the world yet I’ve been busted by several old nanny does this season. Tell my which one is more weary and a bigger “trophy”. I know to each their own, if its legal why do you care, yadda yadda, but I think all of us hunters would love to sit in the woods and see top end representations of mature deer in our area, yet we can’t get out of our own way. It hurts my head to try to rationalize so im curious if anyone has some explanations.
I shoot small bucks! Today, things have almost reversed from when I was growing up. Back then folks looked down on folks who shot does. Deer numbers were low in my part of the state at the time. You could shot 1 deer per year. In order to shoot a doe, you had to enter a county lottery (one county at a time) and pay a fee. Doe season was after buck season, so if you shot a buck, your doe tag was void. Folks would much rather shoot a buck, any buck, than a doe.
Today, young buck are starting to take the place of does in the general ethic. Folks are starting to look down on others who shoot young bucks.
So, why do I shoot young bucks? Why not? Well, it depends.
In order to have an impact on age structure you need scale. In some places, there are regulations that impose antler restrictions which help. With no such restrictions, you probably need to have cooperation on a minimum of 1,000 acres on average to impact age structure by letting young bucks walk. We only own about 400 at the pine farm and have another 400 of adjoining land that are intentionally or unintentionally cooperating. Given that, I, and other experienced hunters on our farm choose to let young bucks walk. We target 3 1/2 year old and older bucks. However, we also have competing objectives. One other objective is to introduce young hunters to the sport. We let them shoot any deer they want. While we are light on scale, we are still trying to do QDM with, at least, some minor success.
We purchased retirement property about 15 minutes from the farm. We have two 8 acre lots. I got 2 neighbor with 20 acres and a new one with 60. The rest of the land is broken into smaller parcels and it is between suburban and rural somewhere. The habitat is very good for our deer numbers. There is plenty of open planted land, hardwoods for fall acorns and some clear-cuts nearby. We could use more deer in this area. We get 3 buck tags in my state. If I have the option to shoot a young buck or a doe on this property, I'll choose the young buck.
- Saving the doe increases the population which is well below the BCC in this area.
- For the same amount of processing work, I get more meat
- There is no way to improve age structure without a much broader antler restriction in the area.
I always save one buck tag for a true shooter and I can't remember a season when I burned all three. Doe tags are unlimited for all practical purposes.
I have no qualms about shooting any deer that fills my objectives in the particular situation.