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Old 01-08-2019, 10:06 PM   #1
HighwayHunter
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Default Deer University - Culling

Recently the Deer University podcast posted an episode about culling. Without getting into the nuts and bolts of the discussion, the end of the conversation between the two biologists came to the conclusion that culling bucks at any age doesn’t really work. I was curious to know what y’all thought about that. The reasoning behind why it doesn’t work (outside of the biologists potentially anecdotal first hand experience on his own ranch) is that just letting bucks reach 5-7 years old will increase the overall score of bucks on your property and that not all spikes are spikes, most specifically yearling spikes. What say the green screen?


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Old 01-08-2019, 10:11 PM   #2
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I do get a kick out of the “culled a spike” and it’s a 1 year old with culling tips. Now a kids first deer, sure. But for justifying one as a management deer, no.
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Old 01-08-2019, 10:14 PM   #3
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Popcorn time !
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Old 01-08-2019, 10:17 PM   #4
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There will never be a consensus on deer management. Everyone who hunts is a expert who completely disagree with 40 year long studies on the subject.
So, I'll kill spikes when I have 10 bucks the same age as the spikes that are better than a spike.
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Old 01-08-2019, 10:20 PM   #5
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There will never be a consensus on deer management. Everyone who hunts is a expert who completely disagree with 40 year long studies on the subject.
So, I'll kill spikes when I have 10 bucks the same age as the spikes that are better than a spike.

Its the same age deal that keeps me from killing any. Where we hunt the first born fawns can be as much as 4 months older than the youngest. They are all in the same age class but the youngest deer that are almost always spikes can easily be genetically better but will not catch up for several years. If everything was bred the same day then it would be different to me.

-john
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Old 01-08-2019, 10:21 PM   #6
88 Bound
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I heard it too and found it very interesting. While I found a few of the procedures a bit controversial, the main message made sense. I can tell you that our lease is very doe-heavy and we have tons of spikes and raghorn young bucks year over year. Most of the guys want to cull them but we’re chasing our tail by doing so. Until we get the doe population under control, we will always have late breeding which makes late fawns which makes bucks that will forever be behind the curve. Thin out the does and address the issue that way.

We as humans love to cull deer. Why? Because we enjoy the kill. Culling is a justification. I can tell you that in 15 years of moderate to aggressive culling on our 6k acres, the number of cull bucks each year never really changes.

I also do strongly agree with how much they mentioned the weather affects the deer herd. I will definitely be tuning in to a few more of their podcasts to hear some more of their theories.
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Old 01-08-2019, 10:24 PM   #7
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Not trying to stir anything up. I believe if your management plan works for your lease then keep doing it. Just curious as to how many people don’t cull at all and have seen positive results.


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Old 01-08-2019, 10:29 PM   #8
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It was a good listen. MSU deer lab is a good listen. The guy talking about this, wasn't he the biologist of Comanche Ranch in Texas? I found it to be very educational
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Old 01-08-2019, 10:32 PM   #9
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Yup I've read many studies on it. Culling in a low fence environment does absolutely nothing. And a high fence environment takes years of culling to actually see the affects of your efforts.

This is the exact reason we don't shoot a deer under 4 preferably 5 on our place. Let em roll and see what they turn into, many times I've been pleasantly surprised.
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Old 01-08-2019, 10:38 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 88 Bound View Post
I heard it too and found it very interesting. While I found a few of the procedures a bit controversial, the main message made sense. I can tell you that our lease is very doe-heavy and we have tons of spikes and raghorn young bucks year over year. Most of the guys want to cull them but we’re chasing our tail by doing so. Until we get the doe population under control, we will always have late breeding which makes late fawns which makes bucks that will forever be behind the curve. Thin out the does and address the issue that way.

We as humans love to cull deer. Why? Because we enjoy the kill. Culling is a justification. I can tell you that in 15 years of moderate to aggressive culling on our 6k acres, the number of cull bucks each year never really changes.

I also do strongly agree with how much they mentioned the weather affects the deer herd. I will definitely be tuning in to a few more of their podcasts to hear some more of their theories.
Cull= I need an excuse to kill a deer. I've seen it more times then I can count on TBH. It cracks me up! 2 or 3 year old 7 pt dead in a pic and the guy is saying " took out a cull".... uhhhh...no you didn't buddy you shot a young deer.

Now I have nothing against shooting a deer because you want to, just call it what is... killing! And leave the cull word out
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Old 01-08-2019, 10:47 PM   #11
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Without age, genetics and nutrition mean nothing
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Old 01-08-2019, 10:51 PM   #12
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To me, culling on low fence is more to get some lesser mature bucks out and let other mature bucks in on new territory. Yes we shoot the mature management type deer. Yes I think wiping out a bunch of 6 points helps. But I think the big area you see improvement is letting new big deer come in
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Old 01-08-2019, 10:54 PM   #13
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we don't consider a buck for killing until he reaches 5+. and many times, we choose the lower scoring deer in an attempt for population control more than trying to change genetics. If we can keep the competition for food down, the deer that remain should be less stressed and will hopefully continue to express their full genetic potential. This yield has led some to believe the are improving the genetic composition, which isn't really true. if they were to stop shooting these deer, allowing their mouths to impact the range conditions, they would see the average score of their top end deer drop in addition to routinely seeing these lower scoring deer they arent shooting, and it would remain that way into the future until the numbers of mouths returns to below a level that the habitat can really support without stress.

All that to say I dont believe culling changes the genetic profile of your ranch in a low fence setting, but if done properly it does improve your remaining deer's ability to show their full potential by lowering stress and competition.
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Old 01-09-2019, 12:19 AM   #14
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I believe culling works 100%. Every cull buck I've killed has never bred another Doe.
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Old 01-09-2019, 12:35 AM   #15
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Culling on a basic deer lease...isn't going to change a lot. If you have a 3 year old ****head and you need some meat, kill it. But all you really did is make one less buck, one less deer, and MAYBE keep him from breeding a time or two, but probably not. But it doesn't hurt.

In most of our situations, altering genetics just isn't going to happen.

But if you are on a lease with "enough" deer, and they allow it, eat up!

The does are 1/2 the equation anyway, and there is no way to know which have the best genes anyway.

So shoot your deer the way you want, and go hunting the next year.

Obviously a 2 or 3 or 4 year old that shows positive characteristics should be let go based on how long you think he can make it, but you don't know how much breeding he will get done either way.


KILLING ENOUGH DOES, imo is the way to make sure the stronger genes prevail, but we can make **** little difference in that regard either...genetics wise.


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Old 01-09-2019, 01:08 AM   #16
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KILLING ENOUGH DOES, imo is the way to make sure the stronger genes prevail, but we can make **** little difference in that regard either...genetics wise.
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I agree with that one. Although I don't own property to hunt on (have a great lease though) I don't think that killing "cull" bucks is a useless practice unless they are a for real 5-6 year old with spikes still on him or some just pitiful rack. The last place we lived on was a rather scattered subdivision of 1-5 acre plots separated by (mandate from the subdivision) 2 acre parcels. Made for plenty of room from neighbors and lots of places for deer to roam. I can't count how many times we had doe hop the fence and fawn in the yard, we kept a quarter acre uncut and brushed in just for that purpose. On our spot we had one heavy 12 point that my daughter named "My buck" that we'd see a few times a month until the rut came in and then he'd be on our place or the parcels to our left and right almost daily. Even caught him in the back near our garden doing his business with some of his does. We saw him and his offspring and does enough to know them on sight. Most of his offspring that dropped as bucks were spikes the first year with an occasional 2x1 or 2x2. Third year we were there a new doe shows up and the buck she dropped that year came out a 3x3 in his first year of velvet. Big bodied and had a lot of potential. I'd bet dollars to doughnuts that the does genetics had a much larger hand in that than the sire. We sold the place a year later due to job move but did see that now two year old once before we left. He was just coming into velvet and was as big as his father already in the body. Another odd fact is that his regular does dropped twins and triplets every year. That new doe just dropped the single.

Bad part is you can't tell a doe's genetics like you can a bucks. Or at least I can't

Richard
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Old 01-09-2019, 01:55 AM   #17
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I think the biggest thing that is missed is that bucks only carry 1/2 of the genes. You have no idea what kind of antler growth gene mama has.

Also, bucks with a bigger first set usually end up with larger antlers at maturity. Usually.
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Old 01-09-2019, 06:38 AM   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by HighwayHunter View Post
Recently the Deer University podcast posted an episode about culling. Without getting into the nuts and bolts of the discussion, the end of the conversation between the two biologists came to the conclusion that culling bucks at any age doesn’t really work. I was curious to know what y’all thought about that. The reasoning behind why it doesn’t work (outside of the biologists potentially anecdotal first hand experience on his own ranch) is that just letting bucks reach 5-7 years old will increase the overall score of bucks on your property and that not all spikes are spikes, most specifically yearling spikes. What say the green screen?


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King Ranch did a study as well and came up with the same results.
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Old 01-09-2019, 08:46 AM   #19
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I hunt in an AR county. We are not allowed to cull.
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Old 01-09-2019, 08:50 AM   #20
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I hunt in an AR county. We are not allowed to cull.


There are larger ranches in AR counties under MLD who do cull (most timber leases) wonder if it’s actually working


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Old 01-09-2019, 08:51 AM   #21
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There are larger ranches in AR counties under MLD who do cull (most timber leases) wonder if it’s actually working


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Not sure about this >>> (most timber leases).
Are you saying most timber leases are MLD?

Did you mean that the larger ranches that are MLD are mostly timber leases?
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Old 01-09-2019, 08:51 AM   #22
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TO me we allow cull bucks so that members wont shoot the good up and comers until they reach maturity. This gives them targets to hunt and makes it easier to let others walk.
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Old 01-09-2019, 08:53 AM   #23
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What happen to the A&M study that showed inferior antlers will always be such and the young and inferior are more aggressive breaders?
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Old 01-09-2019, 08:55 AM   #24
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I'm convinced culling does not work. See attached article. You CANNOT know the antler potential genetics in a doe's DNA that she will pass onto her buck fawns. Age and range conditions/nutrition are the real contributing factors. Not culling.

Last edited by HUNTNETIME; 01-09-2019 at 09:01 AM.
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Old 01-09-2019, 08:56 AM   #25
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So dont shoot any bucks!!!
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Old 01-09-2019, 08:59 AM   #26
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Originally Posted by AntlerCollector View Post
Not sure about this >>> (most timber leases).
Are you saying most timber leases are MLD?

Did you mean that the larger ranches that are MLD are mostly timber leases?


It seems (from the outside looking in) that a large portion of timber leases are operating under MLD management practices. I’ll boil it down to most deer leases east of 35 from the gulf to Oklahoma, more likely to have AR and less likely to have strict “culling standards”. However if the MLD leases that do allow culling per say, how many of them are seeing a benefit from shooting 2-4 year old “genetically inferior” bucks. Given a control that each of these leases is meeting doe harvest numbers authorized by the biologists.


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Old 01-09-2019, 09:00 AM   #27
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So dont shoot any bucks!!!


Don’t shoot any young bucks is what they are saying.


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Old 01-09-2019, 09:01 AM   #28
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oh boy here we go! I love reading these threads!! Tuned in!
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Old 01-09-2019, 09:02 AM   #29
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What happen to the A&M study that showed inferior antlers will always be such and the young and inferior are more aggressive breaders?


I’d agree with that study, but if everything else is right then what’s wrong with having a 140” 8 point on your property or even a 130” 7 point, when you only have 1-3 deer over 150”


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Old 01-09-2019, 09:08 AM   #30
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I believe culling has multiple benefits, even if it's not really to "improve the herd genetics" as most people assume. If a buck has terrible antlers, I don't need him eating away on the limited supply of browse, first and foremost.

I do believe that unless you're HF, trying to control your herd genetics is like herding cats. Too many animals coming and going to ever really lock it down, and the bad genetics in your area are still going to be present in every animal outside your property that's going to be breeding with does that come and go. Can't ever get rid of them unless you're working in a vacuum.
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Old 01-09-2019, 09:08 AM   #31
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I had a 1.5 year old on my place that had uneven 4" spikes...at 3.5 he scored in the high 170s........nuff said.
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Old 01-09-2019, 09:15 AM   #32
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That QDMA article was good. Several profound statements in it..
“But the family trees revealed a bricklwall: ant- ler size was not correlated to breeding value. Therefore, you cannot predict the breeding value of a buck by looking at his antlers.”

I am on the same train as the authors; age, nutrition and habitat. IMO no reason to shoot any buck less than 4 years old. If you don’t believe this talk to some folks in East Texas that live near the strip mines and their reclaimed land. Giant deer on that property that doesn’t get hunted. They improve their habitat and nutrition and let them grow. And they have world class deer in an area that is not known for that.
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Old 01-09-2019, 09:18 AM   #33
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We have to take a certain number of bucks off of our place every year, so it just makes sense to remove the ones with little or no potential first. Will it make a difference genetically in my lifetime, maybe not, but it's definitely better than removing bucks at random.
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Old 01-09-2019, 09:23 AM   #34
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I’d agree with that study, but if everything else is right then what’s wrong with having a 140” 8 point on your property or even a 130” 7 point, when you only have 1-3 deer over 150”


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Becuase say you have 10 does standing there ready to breed. How many does get breed by the 130, 140 and 150" deer? If you don't have the 130 and 140 they all get breed by the 150. In this example we are talking same age class. I'm not discrediting the podcast or any research being done but I know a 3000 acre low fence place just outside of Brady that has been leased for 25 years and they cull heavily. They also shoot 160 to 170 inch deer regularly. Every few years they shoot a 180 to 190 inch deer. Not saying it's only from culling as they feed protein heavy too but there aren't a bunch smaller deer eating and breeding.
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Old 01-09-2019, 09:31 AM   #35
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Good thread
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Old 01-09-2019, 09:46 AM   #36
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Pretty good read I cam across whilst wasting time at work this morning.

https://www.themeateater.com/hunt/wh...-after-the-rut

Seems relevant to the conversation.
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Old 01-09-2019, 10:08 AM   #37
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Quote:
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Not trying to stir anything up. I believe if your management plan works for your lease then keep doing it. Just curious as to how many people don’t cull at all and have seen positive results.


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We cull 1 spike on our lease because the biologist request it. You think "culling" one spike is going to help any lease? No.

I don't mind taking out a spike, but its because I want to. In the name of management sake you must increase the age structure of your bucks and improve the habitat.
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Old 01-09-2019, 10:10 AM   #38
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Originally Posted by lovemylegacy View Post
We cull 1 spike on our lease because the biologist request it. You think "culling" one spike is going to help any lease? No.



I don't mind taking out a spike, but its because I want to. In the name of management sake you must increase the age structure of your bucks and improve the habitat.


I’d agree with that whole heartedly if the biologists reasoning was that carrying capacity of bucks is high, given there’s a overall positive buck to doe ratio. Everyone’s situation is different, and I in no way am a professional. I just like to hear everyone’s opinion on the matter.


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Old 01-09-2019, 10:11 AM   #39
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Originally Posted by texas shag View Post
we don't consider a buck for killing until he reaches 5+. and many times, we choose the lower scoring deer in an attempt for population control more than trying to change genetics. If we can keep the competition for food down, the deer that remain should be less stressed and will hopefully continue to express their full genetic potential. This yield has led some to believe the are improving the genetic composition, which isn't really true. if they were to stop shooting these deer, allowing their mouths to impact the range conditions, they would see the average score of their top end deer drop in addition to routinely seeing these lower scoring deer they arent shooting, and it would remain that way into the future until the numbers of mouths returns to below a level that the habitat can really support without stress.

All that to say I dont believe culling changes the genetic profile of your ranch in a low fence setting, but if done properly it does improve your remaining deer's ability to show their full potential by lowering stress and competition.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Take Dead Aim View Post
Becuase say you have 10 does standing there ready to breed. How many does get breed by the 130, 140 and 150" deer? If you don't have the 130 and 140 they all get breed by the 150. In this example we are talking same age class. I'm not discrediting the podcast or any research being done but I know a 3000 acre low fence place just outside of Brady that has been leased for 25 years and they cull heavily. They also shoot 160 to 170 inch deer regularly. Every few years they shoot a 180 to 190 inch deer. Not saying it's only from culling as they feed protein heavy too but there aren't a bunch smaller deer eating and breeding.
2 great posts here IMO.
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Old 01-09-2019, 10:14 AM   #40
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Take Dead Aim View Post
Becuase say you have 10 does standing there ready to breed. How many does get breed by the 130, 140 and 150" deer? If you don't have the 130 and 140 they all get breed by the 150. In this example we are talking same age class. I'm not discrediting the podcast or any research being done but I know a 3000 acre low fence place just outside of Brady that has been leased for 25 years and they cull heavily. They also shoot 160 to 170 inch deer regularly. Every few years they shoot a 180 to 190 inch deer. Not saying it's only from culling as they feed protein heavy too but there aren't a bunch smaller deer eating and breeding.


Does have also been known to disperse, as bucks will during the rut, to find more readily available mates. If you have 10 does ready to breed and only one big mature buck there’s a good chance he won’t breed all of those does. Even if he does, the smaller bucks will still get a piece of that action in which case who knows what deer will sire the off spring.


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Old 01-09-2019, 10:22 AM   #41
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I believe culling works 100%. Every cull buck I've killed has never bred another Doe.
I'd hope not, then there would be zombie deer. haha
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Old 01-09-2019, 10:27 AM   #42
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I’ll post my anecdotal piece to clarify about where I stand on the issue.

I’m lucky enough to hunt a ranch in junction that’s near 5,000 acres. A close family friend owns it, it’s not leased to any hunters except us, we get to hunt for free but we can only shoot spikes and does. Since we started hunting the ranch in 2014 only two bucks have been killed, one was an 11 point completely missing his back left hoof that was one of the oldest bucks I’ve ever seen and another was an 8 point that almost looked like he has CWD he was so old and decrepit. Between the five of us, we might shoot one or two spikes a year and we only shoot spikes that look to be 3-4 year old spikes. The 2018-2019 season turned up one spike and 8 does for us. The bucks on this property are low fence and have virtually no pressure aside from our one weekend in November. We have seen bucks blow up from your typical basket rack hill country deer, to big 9 points like this one (see below). Several bucks on the property pushing 160-180” (if my field scoring is close) and we found this dead head last year, we believe he was killed in a fight. The point is, bucks left to their own devices, only keeping doe numbers in check, low fence, corn only, we have watched the bucks on this property explode. This is anecdotal and it’s the only real experience I have with a set “culling” program. Everywhere else I’ve ever hunted was a general agreement that the bucks you shoot should be wall hangers.


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Old 01-09-2019, 10:29 AM   #43
Patton
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I hunt in an AR county. We are not allowed to cull.
Not true. I took out a 17.5" wide 8pt, 6.5 yrs old in an AR county last weekend and there are probably 5-6 deer on that property that are younger and significantly bigger (antler wise) that we chose to pass. Does taking out that 'cull 8' help the genetics? I wouldn't think so, but it is a mouth that doesn't have to be fed or dominate a protein feeder and helps keep the ratio where it we want it to be after taking a lot of doe this year. We prefer to let deer get to 4.5 before even being considered a 'cull', and if he is that young he better have 7pts or less and a ****ty rack. Don't shoot the big bucks until they reach 6.5

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Old 01-09-2019, 10:35 AM   #44
Hoss163
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If you want bigger bucks and more of them on your place feed more and let all the bucks you have get to at least 5.5 and naturally your going to have more bigger bucks it’s because you have more mature bucks. Not because you shot some 2.5 year old 6pts are a 1.5 old spike are two .
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Old 01-09-2019, 10:40 AM   #45
Gclyde28
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Recently the Deer University podcast posted an episode about culling. Without getting into the nuts and bolts of the discussion, the end of the conversation between the two biologists came to the conclusion that culling bucks at any age doesn’t really work. I was curious to know what y’all thought about that. The reasoning behind why it doesn’t work (outside of the biologists potentially anecdotal first hand experience on his own ranch) is that just letting bucks reach 5-7 years old will increase the overall score of bucks on your property and that not all spikes are spikes, most specifically yearling spikes. What say the green screen?


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Its important to note that they said culling does not work on free range properties and that allowing deer to age to 6-7+ along with habitat/rainfall/range conditions were the most important factors in antler growth.

Its very evident that culling/selective breeding works on high fence properties because otherwise 300"+ deer wouldn't exist.
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Old 01-09-2019, 10:41 AM   #46
jshouse
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Originally Posted by MQ32Shooter View Post
I hunt in an AR county. We are not allowed to cull.
Sure you can, you can take 2 spikes a year or 1 like this 6pt....



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Old 01-09-2019, 10:43 AM   #47
HighwayHunter
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Its important to note that they said culling does not work on free range properties and that allowing deer to age to 6-7+ along with habitat/rainfall/range conditions were the most important factors in antler growth.



Its very evident that culling/selective breeding works on high fence properties because otherwise 300"+ deer wouldn't exist.


I should’ve clarified in specifically discussing low fence operations, which I believe most TBH members hunt.


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Old 01-09-2019, 10:46 AM   #48
lovemylegacy
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If you really want to cull bucks, you need to do it at night. That's the only time they come out.
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Old 01-09-2019, 10:48 AM   #49
BrokenJ
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Beating a dead horse. Its about removing mouths from range. Especially in high fences. You expect ranches to feed all bucks to 5 yrs old before killing? Not happening. Deer must die. Every ranch has different criteria for culling, removing, decreasing population, ect. It's ludicrous to think every buck should get a pass till maturity. It's also obvious that letting the cull reach maturity will increase his score.
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Old 01-09-2019, 10:52 AM   #50
txwhitetail
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I dont want to feed the low ends of age classes just because they will score a little more if we let them get 5-7 yrs old. Maybe some folks like 90-120" 5-7 year old bucks and want to spend lots of $ to get them to 5.

I also know in part that genetics do play a large role in anything living. What type of control you have over that depends on how your ranch is set up and your management program.
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