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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Everyone talks about manging the herd and doing what's good for the herd, but does a farmer harvest his biggest and best bull or keep it in the gene pool, protected? I will admit that I hate being told what I can shoot, ie point restrictions, private land is different as its private馃槉 are we hurting hunting when it's all about the big rack and not the meat in the fridge? To me its sad when a youngster says ya I got one but it only a 4pt. I'm sure the anti hunters like to hear about the deer managed for big horns and not food. Just seems like too much emphasis on big bucks. What's your thoughts?
 

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Ten Points 505 Ten Point Havoc Burris Oracle Xs
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Well good points for sure. I think managing for Big Bucks has made our farm incredible for hunting. Ten years ago when I started hunting this lease a 130 inch Buck was a big deal. Now every year we have some on film of 160s. 170s and last year a big boy that I can say easily in 180s. At the same time the deer numbers are very good. I feel any effort that reduces deer kill numbers and allows you to watch your herd grow is a bonus.
 

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I mainly hunt two different properties. Both landowners want deer killed for 鈥渄amage to the land or forest.鈥 I try to kill doe first. I have nowhere near the standards many on here do. If I see a buck I want to shoot and it presents a good shot, I will oblige. I pass many legal bucks. If I have venison, no big deal if I get a buck or not. In terms of another part of your question, the one property I hunt USED TO HAVE some of the nicest average bucks I鈥檝e seen in a non-managed property in PA. It鈥檚 not big enough to really manage, and borders on state game lands. In 2012, 7 bucks were taken in gun season, my biggest ever 20鈥 spread, heavy 8, plus a 10 and a huge (for here) 12. 10 years, and the average size of bucks hasn鈥檛 returned yet to pre 鈥12 levels. There are a lot more coyotes around too.
 

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Do whatever floats your boat IMO. If I鈥檓 hunting private land I鈥檓 culling the screwballs and letting the younger ones with potential grow, only killing the 鈥渉erd bull鈥 when the time comes. Doing that is a kick and a half, but to be honest, I have WAY more fun hunting public w/ tha 鈥渋f it鈥檚 brown, it鈥檚 going down鈥 mentality. More of a challenge.
 

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Baltimore, MD - Ten Point Viper S400
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The hunting industry is thriving. Hunters doing everything they can to shoot a big buck. To think that striving to get a leased property to where it produces "trophy" bucks isn't hurting anyone is no longer true (IMHO). Yes, you can do whatever you like if legal. That is the blessing we have in this Nation. Once word gets out of huge bucks in an area, the price of leases goes through the roof. There is a Company (I'll call it) named Washington Area Bowhunters that is offering up staggering amounts of money to control leases here in Maryland. My friend just lost a lease that they'd been on for over 10 years to this group. All the work they had done to manage bucks was paying off and the geese hunting was very good. This group came in and offered, just shy of, double the already high price my friend's group was paying. Things like this are happening at a rate that is staggering (to me). I'd given up leasing years ago after losing two leases in two years due to over pricing. We keep paying and they keep charging. I guess one day a threshold will be reached, and things will level off. My grandchildren will probably not continue hunting because of the cost of this "Hobbie". I can only speak for what's going on here in Maryland but, I hear of it happening all over. If you are blessed to own enough land to satisfy your hunting - GREAT. Us that don't - good luck!
 

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TenPoint Siege, TenPoint Eclipse
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I ask for no advice and give none to anyone else, never have and never will.
Be a man and stick up for your beliefs and you make your own choice and be comfortable with it, no one else鈥檚 opinions should be given a second thought unless you are hunting their land or are a member of a club who governs what is, or is not to be killed.

Life is full of people and government whose only goal is to try to control our minds and dictate what people do.
If you let them it鈥檚 all on you, nothing more needs to be said.
 

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Antlers. We focus to much on them when the discussion is the health of the herd. A healthy herd should have a well balanced age structure, does giving birth to 2 fawns on average, and body weights that are average or above average for deer of that subspecies. Antlers are but one genetic trait and are not necessarily indicative of a healthy deer.
 

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TenPoint Siege, TenPoint Eclipse
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And unless you control thousands of acres trying to micro manage a herd it is a futile adventure at best.
Your states biologists know more about managing the herd for the best interest of everything/everyone involved.
They tell me what I can kill and when, then I will make my own choice, influenced by no one, and apologize to no one for that choice.
 

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Biggest problem on our lease isn't itchy trigger fingers...it's COYOTES! I hate them. Killed 2 last year and doubt I made a dent
Coyotes you say. It was rare for me to see a coyote or get pics of a coyote until about 5 years ago. 6 years ago is when the bandits hit the area leaving fresh carcus's behind laying on the field edges and in the ditches. The fox population has also been on the rise. I see at least 1 fox every time in the woods if not Ill see 5 or 6 by the end of the day. Cant stand either one but they are here for a reason I guess.

Raccoons are another problem.

They talk about deer control but never do you hear about predator control.
 

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Below is the first in a series of interviews with Lanny Benoit. It's been several months since I watched it, but I remember what struck me most was his comments on what deer were trophies when he was growing up. I'm paraphrasing, but he commented that back then, when there was a large hunting party, the greatest trophy of the group after sundown was the deer with the largest body. People would come for miles to see that huge body deer. That was the trophy for them because it meant that most importantly it would provide the most meat, but it also indicated an old and mature deer.

I think about that sometimes when I find myself getting wrapped up in the perceived importance of antler size.

 

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I dont care what other do are think. And I give even less of a dang what others think about what I do are kill.

Simple fact is if you want big racks AND a health heard you have to let the bucks reach 5 plus years old and you have too get the buck to doe ratio down around 2 bucks for every doe.

The fewer does on your property the more the biggest major bucks will stay on your property and push off the smaller younger bucks.
 

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To me its always been about the hunt. At one time the hunt was what ever i got a shot at. After many many deer and years things have changed. It's still about the hunt but now its got to be the biggest Buck on the property i hunt. Because that's where the challenge for me lies. And as for hunting for food and not horns i say bull.
Plant Green Tree Deer Natural landscape

What one are you going to shoot? Personally i hunted and shot the one on the left. It took me 22 days to stick him and i passed on it's just hard to tell how many deer and the Buck on the right and bigger with other bucks here and there. As to food when i picked him up at the processors. They said most Bucks we get in here are 2 Flats full of meat this buck was 4. A flat is a flat they put so much meat on to freeze it for you. And you pay the same money for bambie. I know i cut up my own I don't :). I had deer meat left when season came in the next year counting my Wv Buck.

Last year i again killed 2 Bucks one in Ohio one in Wv i still have deer meat and it looks to last until this fall. But this is me and how i enjoy the hunt.

The next year or last year. One of the bucks I passed on made it. I even passed on him several times and didn鈥檛 really hunt him. Until it became clear he鈥檚 the biggest one on the farm this year. So after long very enjoyable days of hunting I filled the freezer.
Deer Elk Flash photography Art Fawn

This year I hope will be the same. But there have been years where I shot a few does late season for food if no big bucks show up. But years of me passing on small bucks on small tracks of land that is hunted by others. Let鈥檚 me have the opportunity to hunt how I like. The roads yotes and other hunters kill plenty of deer so I don鈥檛 have to.
 

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If it鈥檚 legal and the hunter is happy they are all trophies. Who am I to say what is worthy to you or what is a trophy. Every area this year s different due to many factors. I quit worrying about others standards several years ago and have enjoyed hunting more since then.
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
Great comments! I actually shot my biggest buck ever last year,but still get excited when shooting a doe. I used to shootwith recurve before we could hunt out of trees, any deer was an accomplishment! Maybe so many deer opportunities has lead to horn obsession, not that that's wrong. It just bothers me when I here people "settle" for a doe or smaller buck. But then again I hate hearing people shooting deer but giving meat away cause they don't want or need it. I know I know, I've shared also and am aware of donating to food banks but something doesn't set well with me about shooting what I don't want, probably an over reaction on my part
 

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I love eating venison! Have ever since I can remember. I am from a large family. Most of the family hunts deer, kills deer and eats them. Visit family or go there to do farm work to help out and if I am lucky I get served venison.

I suppose I have killed and mostly eaten somewhere getting on to 150 and 200 deer. I have an will continue to give deer to family and others I know appreciate venison. Most of what I give away is handled only by me from killing and dressing to butchering and packaging because I am so fond of well handled and prepared venison. I would guess that between what I have killed and processed and what I have eaten at friends and family tables I have eaten venison from closer to1000 different deer.

That said, I can flat out guarantee you that not all deer are equals on you plate. Further, you can draw an X-Y graph of age vs quality of meat for deer and that quality declines year by year. JUST LIKE ANY FARM RAISED FOOD ANIMAL! Let a deer get old and it is far more likely to be less than optimal on your plate than one under 2 1/2. Choosing a deer for your plate is not so reliable as choosing which deer to pass on. Just because a deer doesn't show you any of the signs that it may not be prime venison doesn't mean it's going to be a good one, but the one that do show you are easy to spot if you pay attention. Old tough deer can be made into burger and sausage, but those old foul smelling bucks that still stink after the hide is off make poor sausage and bad burger.

Managing deer in an area for specific characteristics is not all that hard, but it does either take control of a fair amount of land or the cooperation a a number of land owners. I live in Minnesota, and like a lot of states, managing an over population is much more common now than it used to be.
 

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In my case it isn't that horn size is only thing important. But since we put self imposed restrictions in place we see a lot more bucks and much bigger. Watching 130 to 140 inch deer walk by is really pretty cool. You don't get as excited when you don't plan to shoot them. You get to watch them and appreciate how they interact with other deer etc. you can always change your mind if a certain deer trips your trigger etc. but like many said shoot the deer you feel is right...everyone controls their own trigger finger!
 

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I always try to fill my freezers every year and the older I get I stay with the same practice of filling my freezers with does from a couple different tracks of land that I hunt. I've been blessed over the years of being able to take my share of bucks but now I also try and hunt a big buck if the opportunity comes along. My family eats venison all year long and I still love to be able to get out in the woods to hunt and watch deer and if the opportunity comes around to be able to outsmart a big adult doe and put her in the freezer also. Enjoy your time in the outdoors and if you're hunting for meat fill your freezer and feed your family and if a big buck comes along that's an added bonus.
 

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I say each to his/her own if legal. Depending on the situation, I will take everything from a small doe to a wall hanger, particularly depending on the time of year and where I am hunting. For example, frequently when I hunt in IA I have about 3 days to take a couple deer from the two farms I hunt there. If the weather is not good, or I haven't had many big bucks on camera, I will simply shoot a couple of does and call it good. This is family property and I also take youth hunting there, so I am actually hunting there in one form or another quite a bit. In my resident state of IL I hunt a few different properties, plus some public land. Usually if I see a deer on public land, and I have a shot I'll take it (depending on if I have any meat in the freezer already, which I usually don't). I typically hunt public early, "saving" the private for late October/early November. If I do hunt private land early, I usually don't shoot anything unless it is a nice buck. After the rut has passed, depending on how much meat I have put in the freezer, anything is a possibility. In summary, I am totally up and down the board on what I harvest and when. And again, each to their own, as long as legal.
 

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We have to say what county we are hunting in when we purchase tags. If an area is overrun with does then they should implement a doe first rule before being allowed to take a buck. This will push more out to hunt early season to get does. Less does during rut and more buck competition for ones there are. Never gonna get all to agree, but this is one way to to bring numbers down to levels.
 
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