Buck Age Structure

Discussion in 'Deer Hunting' started by chadmyers, Oct 12, 2018.

  1. chadmyers

    chadmyers Active Member

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    Does anyone know of any good articles or research that has been done on 3,000-5,000 acres, showing the impacts of the numbers of bucks killed that are 2.5 or younger, and how it impacts buck age structure for the following years?
    I’ve had a lease in Brooks Co. Georgia since 2003. I’ve never seen the numbers of 3.5+ year olds this low since I’ve hunted there. I’v been trying to start a cooperative with the people that own land and hunt around me, but it is only getting worse. I’m trying to find an article that explains how Buck harvest effects age structure so these people can understand why we have very few 5.5+ year old bucks. I’ve tried explaining it to them, but I don’t think they get it, or maybe they need to see it written in black and white.
    There’s a plantation directly across the river from me that’s over 5,000 acres. They used to only sale quail hunts, but 6-7 years ago it was sold. The new owner started selling deer hunts 3-4 years ago. 99% of the bucks they are shooting every year are 1.5’s and 2.5’s. I’m estimating that they are killing 20+ bucks every year. We also have a lot of younger people hunting around us and they are mainly killing 2.5’s. I need to be able to show them why we have so few bucks.
    Thanks in advance!


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  2. SwampCat

    SwampCat Well-Known Member

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    I cant help you out - but I can add to your misery. I dont think it is just killing the older bucks. We used to have a lot of deer - and a fair number of older bucks. Then began the doe killing to “balance the herd”. Fewer does have fewer buck fawns. Fewer bucks to go around mean less make it through the year to become older bucks. We now have half the deer that we used to have and probably 25 percent of the older bucks that we had six or seven years ago.
     
  3. chadmyers

    chadmyers Active Member

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    Did y’all do any kind of survey to figure out your buck:Doe ratio? I’ve always read that nature will usually balance itself out. Are you saying that your deer numbers have dropped and this is the reason for the decline in mature bucks or are you saying that you have fewer bucks period? (All age classes)


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  4. chadmyers

    chadmyers Active Member

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    When I say balance itself out, I’m talking about to a certain degree.


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  5. chadmyers

    chadmyers Active Member

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    Our population could have dropped, but it’s not from harvesting too many does. We have a hog problem and it’s gotten much worse in the past few years. I feel like i’m getting just as many buck pictures as I got in the past, but the percentage of 1.5-2.5’s are very high. The percentage of bucks 3.5+ have dropped dramatically. Our buck age structure has completely shifted. Last year we had some of the biggest 2.5 yr olds I’ve ever seen. One was in the 120’s and another one was in the mid 130’s. One boy killed both of them. These were true freaks of nature. In the past few years we’ve had several bucks killed in the 150’s and one that scored in the 180’s. I knew almost all of those deer and I knew how old they were. This year we only have 2 bucks that I know are 5.5+, but we have about the same amount that are 3.5. That’s why I’m thinking that all of our best 2.5’s are being killed every year, other than the fact that I’m seeing which ones are killed. I feel like we are basically raising 2.5 year old bucks to be killed every year.
    I won’t shoot a buck that is less than 5.5 years old. Does anyone know a good way to make people understand what is going on without pissing them off? I’m desperate to fix this problem!


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  6. Buckly

    Buckly Active Member

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    You will never make enough people understand. Very common when you have a group. There are two choices, hold out and just hunt the way you want and forget about what the others are doing or move on to something that makes you happier.
     
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  7. X-farmerdan

    X-farmerdan Well-Known Member

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    I'm not so sure it's the straight line you think it might be. Population dynamics are complicated and dependent on more than just killing too many 1.5 and 2.5 year old bucks. Oh, don't get me wrong, it is one of the factors, probably a really big one. Anyhow, finding a journal article that provides the evidence you are seeking will rarely lead to change. Goal number one among the entire population of deer hunters is to kill a deer....for the meat. Make me drag out the surveys and research if you must. I really have no advice on how to change attitudes of those you have no power over. Most of us here are a "special" sub-group of hunters dedicated to some really weird activities and ambitions!;)

    And, anyhow, its hard to overcome regression toward the mean! It just means if you have a lot of gold, most likely you will fritter it away to the level average to the common man. Mother Nature does much the same.

    https://tpwd.texas.gov/huntwild/wild/game_management/deer/age/
     
    Last edited: Oct 12, 2018
  8. Drycreek

    Drycreek Well-Known Member

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    IMO, this is the unvarnished truth....
     
  9. chadmyers

    chadmyers Active Member

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    I know of several different cooperatives that are very successful in my area. I guess it just depends on who you have as a neighbor. This has been my goal since I first got that place and I don’t give up very easily. I guess I will just try to educate as many people as possible, but I don’t ever think I can give up. Nothing else makes me happier. I’ve killed several from 140’ to mid 150’s. I have no desire for anything under 150’ anymore. I know I’ll never be completely happy because I always want bigger and better. My next goal is one in the 160’s with a bow, but I’ll still want one bigger.


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  10. chadmyers

    chadmyers Active Member

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    I agree, but I think some of these people are teachable. They are definitely interested, but when a deer walks out it’s much harder for some people. Most of these people aren’t meat hunters. I know there’s a lot more that goes into it, but having them reach maturity is the easiest and cheapest thing you can do. I have a degree in wildlife, so i know a good bit about the biology. I don’t know everything, but I will keep learning. Someone actually just called me and told me that the plantation that borders my land are pretty concerned because they don’t have any big bucks. Some of their customers are complaining. The picture below was from 3 years ago. The one in the middle was killed on the plantation, but the other two were my people. Everyone at that plantation has seen the potential so I think they will eventually come around and I don’t think they’re are doing it for the money. All combined we have about 10,000+ acres and I know everyone that hunts around there. Our land isn’t broken up as much as most places are, so it’s less people that I will have to get to buy in. I started a Facebook group for all the people around there. We started sharing trail cam photos and I was trying to teach them how to age on the hoof. I got a little butt hurt when the boy shot our best 2.5’s last year. 3 people already let the biggest one walk and he was so close to making it through the rut. I guess I had too much negativity that had built up over the past 15 years. I made a few people mad and that was a huge mistake. It’s was more about the way they were harvested that made me snap. The boy didn’t have permission to hunt the land. I got too attached to those deer. I’m gonna keep trying to take baby steps and maybe things get better or maybe they won’t, but I won’t give up! Thanks for the responses though! If anyone has ever been successful with this I’d love to hear your advice.



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  11. chadmyers

    chadmyers Active Member

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  12. chadmyers

    chadmyers Active Member

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  13. Deadeye

    Deadeye Active Member

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    This is Truth.

    My Brother lives and Hunts on 90+ acres of land in NW Pa. Around him are plots of the same size, give or take. They are all family that own these plots. He has Fields that he could plant in but he won't even do that anymore because the "family" just set up around them and shoot the deer that he attracts.

    So sad that they have a combined 500-600 acres and they can't agree on anything when it comes to hunting. A couple of my cousins hold out for better Bucks and won't shoot a deer unless it's 3+ years old, but most if it has 3-points on one side it's going down. My Brother is in that 2nd group. His mind set is if he doesn't shoot it one of the others will.
     
  14. Tap

    Tap Well-Known Member

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    You might want to look for info from states with antler point restrictions. Pa has implemented APRs for quite a few years now and IMO, when it comes to the age structure of the buck herd, it is working. But I'm speaking strictly of the age structure and not necessarily of antler scores. There are theories about "high grading" which says the higher quality yearling bucks will meet the APR and will be harvested. Meanwhile the inferior yearling bucks may not qualify for the APR and are left to breed.
    I believe high grading does exist to a certain extent but it's not as bad as some say it is. The potential quality of a buck's antlers at maturity cannot be predicted by the buck's 1st or 2nd rack. There are various reasons why a buck with great potential may start out with an "inferior" spike rack. Many of them will catch up in antler size, after a few years and even pass up the bucks that started out life with slightly better racks.
    Rack size aside, there's no doubt that APR in Pa has increased the age structure of our bucks.

    Here's a link to some info from the Pa Game Comm. The site has many other links on it including one that allows you to ask questions to biologists. They may be able to steer you toward the info that you are looking for.
    https://www.pgc.pa.gov/wildlife/wildlifespecies/white-taileddeer/pages/default.aspx

    Good luck with our goals. It's just about impossible to change the mindset of hunters that feel that tagging a buck is some sort of competition and posting their pics on social media is their main goal. Their mindset is "whatever is legal". As long as there are no laws that encourage the passing of young bucks, they will keep killing young bucks. And as long as advances in equipment continues to be legalized, the increased pressure on bucks will also continue. The majority of hunters won't self impose limitations on equipment choices or the deer they shoot."Whatever is legal", right? Seems to be that way with much of society these days.
     
  15. SwampCat

    SwampCat Well-Known Member

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    Yes - i do annual camera surveys to determine buck doe ratios, but I also try to age guess all the bucks in my local bachelor herds and then come up with an average age. The buck/doe ratio has stayed fairly consistent - but the average buck age has fallen from 3.2 to about 2.4 yrs old over the past five or six years. We have a statewide 3 pt on one side which protects a lot of our 1.5 yr old bucks and has really helped the age structure.

    I think when we had twice as many deer - and basically the same number of hunters - more bucks lived to see another year - putting more older bucks in the herd. But as the doe slaughter progressed, and the overall deer population declined - so did the number of available bucks. Hunters hunted longer and harder - but they still get there deer.

    I believe it is as simple as having 100 bucks available to hunters in your area or 50 bucks available to the same hunters - more bucks are going to live to see another year out of the 100 buck population. Now this is all assuming the population is never so high as to adversely impact herd health.

    I only have about 400 acres - so my attempts at “managing” the bucks is usually for naught. I pass the young ones and hope for best. But, my main goal is to provide as much food as I can - to attract bucks from as far as possible, keep them on my property as long as possible, improve fawn recruitment, protect the does, and hope those fawns tend to imprint on my place.
     
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  16. chadmyers

    chadmyers Active Member

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    That’s interesting! What state are you hunting in? I hardly ever see people shooting does near my property. Our feral hogs are becoming a huge problem! The number of hogs has exploded in the past 3 years. I’m probably gonna have to get one of those yagger pros to be able to make any kind of difference with them. I’ll try to get some of the smarter ones at night with a thermal scope. They are eating our best acorns every year, leaving the scraps for the deer.


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  17. chadmyers

    chadmyers Active Member

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    Why did people start shooting so many does? Were y’all originally trying to balance out the ratio or are people just killing them for meat?


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  18. SwampCat

    SwampCat Well-Known Member

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    I am in Arkansas. Our G&F decided we needed to balance the herd. We have more days we can kill a doe than a buck. We can kill three times as many does as bucks.

    We have a lot of hogs, also. But we have had hogs in this area since at least 1930, I am told. The deer herd was almost gone back then - but they recovered well - in spite of the hogs. I killed around 85 hogs off a sixty acre tract of land I own. I cant tell they have had any effect on the deer. Deer will move over, but they do not move out - when hogs are in my area. That might be because hogs have always been here, realistically, and the deer dont know any difference. I have pictures of hogs and deer feeding in the same picture. I dont believe hogs are a good thing for the deer - but at least in my area - they are surely not the end of the world.

    You might think about a number of $500 homemade hog traps on your 5000 acres as opposed to one $5000 Jaeger Pro. You can catch a lot of hogs in a utility panel trap - and have a lot of traps for that kind of money.
     
  19. chadmyers

    chadmyers Active Member

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    Yeah, I’ve tried all kinds of different traps, but I was educating more than I was catching. I want try to catch most of the whole sounder if I put a trap back out. It’s expensive, but if it works it would be worth it to me. I have 3 people that bow hunt my land. They are all pretty well off. That’s nothing for them and I know a lot of people that will pay me to use it on there hogs. I got that property in 2003. I never saw a hog on our place until about 8 years ago and that was just a few that would move in and out. They started exploding about 3 years ago and now we have at least 3 sounder’s that have made my place home.
    I can’t believe you have hogs and deer in the same picture! It’s completely different here. If I’m getting pictures of hogs I won’t see a deer at that camera for 2-3 days. And this is at like 20+ cameras. If I see them when I hunt I might as well get down because I won’t see a deer that day. You must have some well behaved animals :). You’re 100% right on shooting that many and it not making any difference. That’s scary for me to think about, but It seems to me that there will be more the next year. I guess our hogs are meaner than yours because our bucks will completely change their patterns to stay clear of them. It’s weird how they act different where you are compared to where I am.
    I don’t think I could pay anyone to shoot a Doe off my place. You would think our buck:Doe ratio would change, but my surveys have averaged 1:1.5 on a pretty consistent basis. I thought it had to be a little off, but I started keeping up with what I saw each day and that came out about 50/50.


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  20. chadmyers

    chadmyers Active Member

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    Are you into arrowhead hunting? I’m curious if y’all have a lot of points in your area? That’s gotten really popular here. It’s hard to find a place to hunt that 10 other people aren’t out there hunting


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