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Adverse Un-natural selection?
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I read Crazyhorseconsultings' post on the Texas Trophy Hunters thread, and it got me to reflecting about a particular train of thought I continue to revisit over the years. I thought I might make a comment as to that train of thought, then ask for your opinion.

I've noted on numerous occasions that I have actively been hunting the Texas hill county since 1999. By that I mean I make a trip once a month to usually two different leases. I deer hunt at least two weekends during the archery season and have ordered my life so that I can usually spend around 30 out of the 60 day rifle season in the field. I have hunted Brackettville, Rock Springs, Campwood, Barksdale, Leaky, Vanderpool, Reagan Wells, Junction and Menard, Texas. All my hunting has been on low fenced ranches that are surrounded by other low fenced ranches. On these ranches the only supplemental feeding that was done, was by the individual lease members either by means of a spin cast feeder or demand feeder. By far, the majority of feeding was corn and was only during the months of August through December. The state of Texas allows 5 deer to be taken in these counties. A couple of the leases we could take 1 trophy buck, one cull buck , 2 doe and turkey and hogs. Others, a buck and two doe. One, two bucks and three doe. For most of the last 11 years I have been able to afford to pay for a spot on two differnt leases for myself and one for my son. This meant we could legally take 10 whitetail deer.
On the particular leases that I've hunted the regulations have ranged from very restrictive to very relaxed. By restrictive I mean, no guests, and every deer shot had to be brought to a central location and the jaw bone and one hind leg removed for the game biologist to examine, no bucks under 4 yrs or 8 points could be shot without paying a fine or loss of lease privleges. Relaxed meant no supervision what-so-ever, bring as many guests as you like and your self disciplined about what you shoot.

Now here is my observation after hunting with fifteen or so other hunters on the aforementioned leases.
It seems that due to the increased emphasis on taking big trophy bucks, there is an adverse natural selection process that is coming into effect. I can't help but wonder if it doesn't affect the free ranging heard across the state of Texas. If you pay big dollars, and can take only one trophy, or if you live in a one buck county, how many guys choose to shoot a bix six with no brow tines or a five year old crab claw 8 point.

If you let your kids or in-experienced guests hunt off your tag, many times they will shoot a nice two year old 8 point with a beautifully symmetrical rack that had great potential for passing on his genes and let a mature deer with an inferior rack walk. The good young deer get shot. The 4 or 5 year old crab claw buck, or the two year old morphodite spike walk. They then pass on their inferior genes.

How many folks wait until late in the season to take their does (if they take them at all) after they've already been bred.

Your thoughts?

GWB


A Kill Artist: When I draw, I draw blood!
 
Posts: 23384 | Location: Pearland, Tx,, USA | Registered: 10 September 2001Reply With Quote
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Geedubya- I have often wondered about some of the same issues you are bringing up. Now I hunt big woods in northern MN but I get down to the TX hill country often as my wife is from there. I haven't had a chance to hunt there but I talk to lots of people about deer hunting and I have come up with these conclusions.

My first is on a closed ranch environment where feeding is involved the randomness of taking deer seems greatly reduced. By that I mean the ranch owners or hunters know exactly how many deer are on the property and what sizes they are. So if they know that there are say 10 "trophy" bucks on the ranch the hunters are much more apt to focus all of there time on killing those 10 specific deer. If those deer are taken before the breeding happens then they don't pass on the genes.

My second is why would a lessee who is often paying big money to hunt a property shoot an inferior deer like the crab claw you stated. With the knowledge of what is on the ranch, the high price paid to hunt, as well as the 60 day season there seems to be no incentive to take less than a perfect "trophy".

I think all of this factors into what you are saying about the best genes not getting passed on as much.
 
Posts: 242 | Location: Minneapolis, MN | Registered: 07 August 2009Reply With Quote
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I don`t have any Texas experience,but that pretty seems to be what people do up here.Take the best genetics out of the herd. This is my first year with using trail cams and I was surprised at the amount of nice bucks seen on food plots at night,never to be seen or taken during the daytime.Guess I am not as good a hunter as I thought I was!!!
 
Posts: 4372 | Location: NE Wisconsin | Registered: 31 March 2007Reply With Quote
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I am glad that some folks still have the ability to understand the basic concepts some folks try to get across.

Don't mean to be the frog croaking in my own pond, but basically, just a little better worded, the stuff Geedubya and MN Hunter stated above is what I am getting at.

I killed my first buck in 1970.

I am basing my opinions on what I have personally observed and experienced concerning whitetail deer hunting and management since that first deer hit the dirt.

This year, well at least since July, I have been working for a friend in a 4 county area of north Texas, on approximately 20,000 acres of low fenced deer habitat.

From September thru until the 17th. of January, when the Late Doe-Spike season ended, I was on these properties either maintaining feeders, checking Game Cams, or setting in a blind watching to see what was coming in to the feeders, or setting somewhere glassing the pasture to see what was moving around.

Additionally, I have a close friend who operates a processing business during season.

Along with that, several thousand acres of the properties Robert manages are leased out to groups for the season, so we were in contact with those hunters on a regular basis and be advised of what they were seeing and killing.

I made several observations, some just from what I witnessed this year, some from what I have observed happening over the past 40, since the area I am talking about is where I grew up.

Pastures that are now leasing for $11.00 or more an acre for deer hunting, 30 years ago did not have any deer in them or very few.

I witnessed several deer being brought in that did not meet the 13 inch minimum.

Over the years before the AR's were enacte, I personally helped butcher, and killed many bucks that were 3.5 to 5.5 years old, that wer 5 to 8 point deer that would never had made 13 inches on their best day.

I also remember a time when if a hunter saw 1 deer a season they were fortunate, and if it was a buck so much the better.

We had a client from Houston shoot a 5 pointer that was 13.5 inches inside spread in Young county the last weekend of the General Season, and there were over 20 deer, bucks and does around the feeders.

I am going to get down off my soap box somewhat, as I get to carried away with this.

From personal experience and obsevations, there is a real problem of un-natural or adverse selection going on in the deer herd across much of Texas.

As a closing example, in the 4 county area I am describing, 2 of the counties went under the AR's, 2 did not.

All 4 were and had been 1 Buck-2 Doe counties for several years, I can remember when they were all 1 buck counties and does were illegal.

Yet these 4 counties are all now 5 deer counties, in 1 year they went from 1 buck-2 doe, to 5 deer.

Somehow I can not believe that I am the only person that sees that something has started to get out of hand.


Even the rocks don't last forever.



 
Posts: 31014 | Location: Olney, Texas | Registered: 27 March 2006Reply With Quote
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quote:
Originally posted by Crazyhorseconsulting:

I killed my first buck in 1970.

I am basing my opinions on what I have personally observed and experienced concerning whitetail deer hunting and management since that first deer hit the dirt.

Pastures that are now leasing for $11.00 or more an acre for deer hunting, 30 years ago did not have any deer in them or very few.

From personal experience and observations, there is a real problem of un-natural or adverse selection going on in the deer herd across much of Texas.


Aside from a lot of pissed off deer hunters what do you think would happen if TX outlawed all feeding, forced all ranches to pull down the high fences, and shortened the season to say 14 days with a 1 buck limit.

I would be willing to bet in 5-10 years the overall genetic quality of the herd would be as good or better than it was in 1970. But the overall number of deer in TX would be way down.

When you start messing up the natural carrying capacity of the habitat by feeding the deer you fundamentally change the herd. Then the big business of deer hunting takes over and they are able to lease pasture that don't traditionally have good enough habitat to support deer. People are willing to pay more and more to kill only the big deer and thus by doing so the genetics get more and more watered down by an unnaturally high deer population with fewer and fewer genetically superior animals.

It is an ongoing spiral that builds upon itself.

You end up trying to ranch deer but keep killing all of your best breeding bulls.
 
Posts: 242 | Location: Minneapolis, MN | Registered: 07 August 2009Reply With Quote
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quote:
Originally posted by OLBIKER:
I don`t have any Texas experience,but that pretty seems to be what people do up here.Take the best genetics out of the herd. This is my first year with using trail cams and I was surprised at the amount of nice bucks seen on food plots at night,never to be seen or taken during the daytime.Guess I am not as good a hunter as I thought I was!!!


At least in WI the rifle season is short(9 days) and starts at the tail end of the rut when most of the dominant bucks have had a chance to pass on their genetics. Of course having everyone in the county dump 50lbs of corn or apples at the base of there deer stand causes a different set of deer movement problems but that is for a different thread.
 
Posts: 242 | Location: Minneapolis, MN | Registered: 07 August 2009Reply With Quote
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quote:
Originally posted by MN Hunter:
quote:
Originally posted by Crazyhorseconsulting:

I killed my first buck in 1970.

I am basing my opinions on what I have personally observed and experienced concerning whitetail deer hunting and management since that first deer hit the dirt.

Pastures that are now leasing for $11.00 or more an acre for deer hunting, 30 years ago did not have any deer in them or very few.

From personal experience and observations, there is a real problem of un-natural or adverse selection going on in the deer herd across much of Texas.


Aside from a lot of pissed off deer hunters what do you think would happen if TX outlawed all feeding, forced all ranches to pull down the high fences, and shortened the season to say 14 days with a 1 buck limit.

I would be willing to bet in 5-10 years the overall genetic quality of the herd would be as good or better than it was in 1970. But the overall number of deer in TX would be way down.



MN: I killed my first deer in Texas in 1955 and have hunted here every year since. Circa 1970 there were essentially no high fences, no feeders (at least in comparison to now)and the season was much shorter, with a 2 buck limit.

Not sure what you mean by "genetic quality" but I believe it's safe to say that there were proportionally much fewer mature bucks, and the population of deer and the range of deer were both expanding rapidly.
 
Posts: 1415 | Location: Texas | Registered: 02 May 2003Reply With Quote
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not to piss on the fire but the genetics of a deer remain the same whether it's a yearling or a mature buck.

Here's a buck I bowkilled in Bexar County in the early 80's.





He weighed 156 as he fell.

How old would you guess him to be?
 
Posts: 3167 | Location: out behind the barn | Registered: 22 May 2002Reply With Quote
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2 1/2, possibly 3 1/2 but very hard to judge from those pics.


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Posts: 17099 | Location: Texas USA | Registered: 07 May 2001Reply With Quote
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I am going to go with 3.5 to 4.5 at most.

The problem, whether anyone will admit to it. is that aging deer on the hoof or hanging in a picture is a SWAG ar best.

There is only one way to accurately age a deer and that is to send the incisors(front teeth) to a lab and have them cross sectioned.

Anything else is just a guess and TP&W's best biologists give themselves a 2 season window.


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Posts: 31014 | Location: Olney, Texas | Registered: 27 March 2006Reply With Quote
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quote:
Originally posted by ncboman:
not to piss on the fire but the genetics of a deer remain the same whether it's a yearling or a mature buck.



I will try to answer this and olarmy's question of what I mean by "genetic quality" in the same post.

First of all I understand that the genetics of any individual deer remain constant for the entire life of the deer. I was referring to the gene pool as a whole. In the original post by Geedubya he was voicing some concerns about the possibility of adverse un-natural selection going on. When I was talking about the "genetic quality" of the deer herd I was talking about the overall percentage of "trophy genes" in the entire deer population of an area like the hill country that Geedubya was talking about.

If we specifically look at his example where he says he is seeing more deer that reach maturity but are inferior as far as trophy potential.

Here is my reasoning...

1-in this area of TX you have an unnaturally large number of deer. (More deer than the natural habitat can support)

2-because of feeding being the only viable source of food for the large population the ranch owners use the feed areas to be able to ascertain exactly the number of "Trophy Bucks" on their specific ranches and hunt or lease the rights for those specific animals.

3-because the season is very long and starts well before the breading happens the percentage of "trophy deer" that make it to breed gets lower and lower each year. As a result the bulk of breeding is done by smaller and smaller deer.

4-now while some of those smaller deer are just immature deer who indeed carry "trophy potential" there are continually more and more deer with less desirable genetics getting to breed. These deer would normally get pushed out by the dominant deer but because more of them are dead already by the time breeding starts lesser deer get to breed.

5-If you continue on this path eventually you will get a population of deer with an inferior gene pool. But there will be lots of them and they will all have very good nutritional diets from the feeders.

There is nothing wrong with this if that is what the deer management goal is. Lots of deer who all reach there maximum potential.

But it seemed that Geedubya was concerned about the overall maximum potential getting lower.
 
Posts: 242 | Location: Minneapolis, MN | Registered: 07 August 2009Reply With Quote
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MN Hunter, my hat is off to you Sir. thumb beer beer

You do have the basic grasp of what is wrong with lots of the mangement practices here in Texas and I think you stated it quite eloquently. thumb thumb thumb beer beer


Even the rocks don't last forever.



 
Posts: 31014 | Location: Olney, Texas | Registered: 27 March 2006Reply With Quote
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I killed my first deer in Texas in 1960 in New London Tx. I do not believe for one second that the Texas deer population is maintained by landowners/ranchers feeding the deer. I believe that Texas deer do quite well w/o any supplementary feeding at all. I think there are a lot of would-be game managers that don't know come here from sic'um. I agree w/ alot of what has been said esp. about some of the genetically best bucks getting knocked off before the breeding season. Dr.C


At Home on the Range-Texas Panhandle
 
Posts: 411 | Registered: 16 November 2006Reply With Quote
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DocC, maybe you need to take a look around and see that things are not like they were when you killerd your first buck.

There are many places in Texas where the deer have become dependent on the supplemental feeding, and because of that supplemental feeding deer numbers have exceeded the carrying capacity of the range available.

Now, are you well aquainted with all areas of deer habitat in Texas?


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Posts: 31014 | Location: Olney, Texas | Registered: 27 March 2006Reply With Quote
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You would know I was a liar if I answered yes to that question! I believe that free ranging deer do quite well--barring drought, fire,and etc. Dr.C


At Home on the Range-Texas Panhandle
 
Posts: 411 | Registered: 16 November 2006Reply With Quote
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quote:
Here is my reasoning...

1-in this area of TX you have an unnaturally large number of deer. (More deer than the natural habitat can support) If you are speaking of the Hill Country, this is generally correct
2-because of feeding being the only viable source of food for the large population the ranch owners use the feed areas to be able to ascertain exactly the number of "Trophy Bucks" on their specific ranches and hunt or lease the rights for those specific animals.incorrect assumption, feeding is not the only source of food. Most feeders contain corn, which provides little nutrition, but is used to attract deer, not provide supplemental nutrition

3-because the season is very long and starts well before the breading happens the percentage of "trophy deer" that make it to breed gets lower and lower each year.to become a "trophy deer" a buck must be mature, at least 5.5 years old, even then, only a small percentage of the 5YO's are "trophies". Shooting trophy deer does not harm the gene pool becasue by the time a trphy deer has become a trophy, he has already had several years to spread his genes." As a result the bulk of breeding is done by smaller and smaller deer.

4-now while some of those smaller deer are just immature deer who indeed carry "trophy potential" there are continually more and more deer with less desirable genetics getting to breed. In an area with a management program, these bucks are also removed. These deer would normally get pushed out by the dominant deer but because more of them are dead already by the time breeding starts lesser deer get to breed.

5-If you continue on this path eventually you will get a population of deer with an inferior gene pool. But there will be lots of them and they will all have very good nutritional diets from the feeders.
In the Hll Country, most of the problem is not poor genetics, it is the fact that hunters typically kill more bucks than does, so there are too many does and most of the bucks are too young to be trophies even if they have outstanding genetics, which some of them do.

There is nothing wrong with this if that is what the deer management goal is. Lots of deer who all reach there maximum potential.


please note, CHC, that I am speaking about conditions in the the Hill Country, not your area of north Texas, about which I know little.
 
Posts: 1415 | Location: Texas | Registered: 02 May 2003Reply With Quote
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I dunno.

On some of what's been posted I can agree

but something's been left out.

The mature doe.

Mature does usually desire to mate with the best bucks and have the dominance and know how to get it done. When the mature does are shot down hard (as they are here in eastern NC), what's left are basicly yearlings and 1 1/2yr old doe. These doe aren't as adept at avoiding lesser bucks and the situation often degrades into a fuckall. Combine that with very few older bucks left by breeding time and I think the overall herd falters.

Texas hillcountry deer are interesting in that there's so many of them, but I find the bigger deer of south Texas even more interesting. From around Three Rivers south and westward, the deer are 'different'.

Genetics or herd structure?
 
Posts: 3167 | Location: out behind the barn | Registered: 22 May 2002Reply With Quote
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nc:

IMO, most of the difference between Hill Counrty deer and South Texas deer is nutrition. The scrub and thorn brush of south Texas ain't purty. But it is very high in protein, compared to the flora in the rocky Hill Country.

The other difference (no generality is worth a damn, including this one) is that the deer density is generally lower (which improves nutrition), and the buck to does ratio is better, which over time improves overall genetics by increasing the competition for the does.
 
Posts: 1415 | Location: Texas | Registered: 02 May 2003Reply With Quote
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I understand fully, and you are one of the few to admit to that, doccash is another one.

In too many places, people are concentrating so heavily on the trophy bucks, that they are letting inferior, but legally shootable bucks walk, bucks that will breed and pass those inferior genes along.

That is only hurting the herd in that area.

Gatogordo is controlling what happens on his property, but that is only one rancher controlling a set amount of land.

That is not happening state wide, to thinkl it is is foolish.

As for your comment about there being too many does and the bucks not reaching their genetic capabilities, in my opinion you are partially right, because in my estimation, it is the sheer numbers of deer competeing for the available food source that keeps the bucks from readhing their genetic potential.

To start a whole new arguement here, and not with anyone in particular, what do you(anyone) feel is the proper buck to doe ratio for a healthy deer herd?


Even the rocks don't last forever.



 
Posts: 31014 | Location: Olney, Texas | Registered: 27 March 2006Reply With Quote
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I've never hunted south Texas but spent a good bit of time around Zapata on several occasions.

The first deer I saw down there was a huge buck so I fought boredom by watching for deer/pretend hunting on the ranch.

Unbelievable how that dead drab land can 'come alive' when they decide to walk.

The best deer (3 of them) I ever saw in Texas were very near Alice. I've seen many other big ones but these were special. Smiler
 
Posts: 3167 | Location: out behind the barn | Registered: 22 May 2002Reply With Quote
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That is the crux of the whole deal, South Texas is a very special place, but it really does not reflect the state of whitetail over the rest of the state.

Also, what works in south Texas, will not work in the Piney Woods, the Cross Timbers, the Rolling Plains or the High Plains areas.

Too many really knowledgable people overlook that fact.

There are tremendous deer in south Texas, but the range conditions that support
those animals are not present over the rest of the state.

Too many folks site south Texas when discussing white tails in Texas, and do not understand or appreciate that the conditions that produce those record class animals are simply not available state wide.


Even the rocks don't last forever.



 
Posts: 31014 | Location: Olney, Texas | Registered: 27 March 2006Reply With Quote
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quote:
Too many folks site south Texas when discussing white tails in Texas, and do not understand or appreciate that the conditions that produce those record class animals are simply not available state wide.


Absolutely agree. I lived in Texas for eight years, a short period near Bishop but mostly in San Antonio.

A natural born deer hunter, I was always slobbering to be able to hunt down there (S Tx) but just couldn't afford it. I was very fortunate to find land bought and slated for development in Bexar Co and managed to be the sole secret bowhunter several years for free. The most stupid deer I ever hunted. I had a ball. Big Grin

A friend and I use to drive down thru the brush country several times every winter. I miss that.
 
Posts: 3167 | Location: out behind the barn | Registered: 22 May 2002Reply With Quote
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Just wait till you get your DNR involved.

Your concerns are valid. The point that is missing is landowners and trophy bucks. If my ranch fails to provide that quality deer worthy of the big dollars I charge. Folks will go elsewhere and I will have to change something. Like maybe some breeding smarts. Or a low dollar management kind of thing to remove the culls.

Now to the DNR part. I am in Upper Michigan. Probably 20 years ago the DNR started selling 2 buck tags per gun and 2 per bow. 4 tags per man. For some reason people started seeing fewer mature bucks. So now the answer is 2 bucks per person. Minimum 3 points for one tag and minimum 4 points for the second. Let see, there is a legal yearling, 3 points per side. He's down. Oh look over there, a two and a half year old forkhorn, better protect his genes and allow him to reproduce.

Like a soup sandwich? You betcha! You are better off with the landowner calling the shots than the Government. Now about universal health care...
 
Posts: 275 | Location: UP of MICH (for the good times) East Central Wisconsin (by mistake) | Registered: 05 March 2007Reply With Quote
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In too many places, people are concentrating so heavily on the trophy bucks, that they are letting inferior, but legally shootable bucks walk, bucks that will breed and pass those inferior genes along.


A real "trophy" is at least 5 1/2 and more likely 6 1/2 years old or older in most of the state. They have done their breeding and taking them does little or nothing to hurt the herd genectics AT ANY TIME. Many high fenced operations HEAVILY cull any bucks that are not of trophy quality. I know of several low fenced operations that heavily cull inferior bucks, both in the Golden Triangle area and mine, for example. Not only do I think, but I know, that many of the ranches offering hunts for higher dollars or high cost leases micro-manage their herds and offer better genetics than average due to this management, just the opposite of the proposed theory of adverse un-natural selection. I think the "adverse un-natural selection" theory is just that, a theory with no WIDESPREAD basis in fact IN TEXAS. However, it can and does happen if the antler restrictions are structured poorly. Mississippi had that problem when they instituted a 8 point or larger only program some years back. (This is from memory and may be off in details) On the contrary, the current AR counties in Texas have nearly the perfect structure for maintaining and improving herd genetics. Getting people to shoot more does would really help, no argument there. Ideally, the deer population of the range should be somewhat less than carrying capacity, so that adequate nutrition is available in poor years. One reason the hill country deer are so small is that the range is maxed out. There were die offs just reported W of Kerrville. Why, the deer had a very poor year due to drought and then the cold snap got them.


xxxxxxxxxx
When considering US based operations of guides/outfitters, check and see if they are NRA members. If not, why support someone who doesn't support us? Consider spending your money elsewhere.

NEVER, EVER book a hunt with BLAIR WORLDWIDE HUNTING or JEFF BLAIR.

I have come to understand that in hunting, the goal is not the goal but the process.
 
Posts: 17099 | Location: Texas USA | Registered: 07 May 2001Reply With Quote
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quote:
Originally posted by olarmy:
[QUOTE]Here is my reasoning...


3-because the season is very long and starts well before the breading happens the percentage of "trophy deer" that make it to breed gets lower and lower each year.to become a "trophy deer" a buck must be mature, at least 5.5 years old, even then, only a small percentage of the 5YO's are "trophies". Shooting trophy deer does not harm the gene pool because by the time a trphy deer has become a trophy, he has already had several years to spread his genes." As a result the bulk of breeding is done by smaller and smaller deer.



The lynchpin to this theory is that in a normal wild deer herd the mature "trophy deer" get to do most of the breeding because they run off all of smaller deer. Thus a deer may have "trophy genetics" but he won't get to pass on those genes until he gets big enough to run off the other deer in the area. Now if the biggest deer are getting harvested before the breading season then the breeding is up to all of the smaller deer. These deer are a mix of genetically both good and bad deer. But if this is keept up year after year the number of genetically good deer in the population gets reduced less and less.

olarmy brings up another good point that is probably a big issue in the TX hill country we are talking about. Too many does. I would even say too many deer period but by definition that means too many does. Even if all of your mature "trophy deer" are living to breed if you have an unnaturally high number of does in the local area the "mature trophy bucks" can't breed all of them at once. The result is once again the same, lesser deer are getting in on the breeding. This is good for maintaining artificially high numbers of deer but it's not as good for passing on the best "trophy genes".

I am curious that no one responded to my original question what do you think would happen to the deer herd in the hill country if TX outlawed all feeding, forced all ranches to pull down the high fences, and shortened the season to say 14 days with a 1 buck limit and a varying doe harvest to get the buck to doe ratio to say 2 to 1?
 
Posts: 242 | Location: Minneapolis, MN | Registered: 07 August 2009Reply With Quote
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Something that is being overlooked by everyone,is that the "best" genes to be passed down,arent necessarily the one that have the biggest antlers.The ones best able to adapt and survive stresses are the best suited to pass on their genes.By artificially manipulating the gene pool to have bigger antlers,we may be lessening the animals ability to survive.In fact,anytime you mess with natural selection,be it modifying the buck/doe ratio,to selective harvest of the animals with smaller antlers,you are playing with fire.That "cull buck" with smaller antlers may just be the best able to survive drought or disease or be the "smartest",and possess the best genes to pass on.


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Posts: 2937 | Location: minnesota | Registered: 26 December 2002Reply With Quote
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I started hunting in texas in parker co.There were seasons that you would not see any deer.You knew that they were there but didn't see them.We planted food plots and in 3 or 4 years you got to see a cross sample of what was hiding on the ranch.
I was the one of the only ones that shot the wierd horned bucks.I didn't shoot much less see a deer with a normal rack for 5 or 6 years.
I only shot 1 in all the years I hunted there.Then when they had a 2 week doe season it went back to seeing no deer at all.
I don't shoot all that I see but I like so watch them.
We call it hunt and release.
 
Posts: 1371 | Location: Plains,TEXAS | Registered: 14 January 2008Reply With Quote
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quote:
I am curious that no one responded to my original question what do you think would happen to the deer herd in the hill country if TX outlawed all feeding, forced all ranches to pull down the high fences, and shortened the season to say 14 days with a 1 buck limit and a varying doe harvest to get the buck to doe ratio to say 2 to 1?


I attempted, or at least I thought I attempted to address that question, by pointing out that the senario you suggest is essentially what existed in Texas from the 50's (that's as far back as I go, so it probably was even earlier) thru the early 70's. and the result was as designed, the deer herd expanded dramatically...to the point where there in many areas were way too many deer, and especially way to many does.

To respond more directly:

1) outlaw feeding: This would be counterproductive. the vast majority of feeding is with corn. This is used as an attractant, not a nutritional supplement (corn actually has very little nutritioinal value for deer). Having corn feeders attracts deer and makes the goal of reducing the number of deer easier. Supplemental feeding of protein is not uncommon, but is much less common than corn feeders and is typically confined to ranches which have a well developed management program, and it does not have, IMO, much effect on the general overpopulaiton of deer in the Hill Country.

2)Eliminate high fences: (I will for now ignor the private property rights issse which is huge in Texas) High fenced ranches are generally "islands" of well managed habitat surrounded by vast areas of overpopulated habitat. I don't know the actual number of acres under high fence versus the total, but it would be a very small percentage. One of the main purposes of the high fences is to keep the extra deer out. If you waived a wand and eliminated all high fences, the result would be that the "islands" would be flooded and there would be too many deer on them, too.

3) Shorten the season: (again ignoring the political and unintended consequences) Shortening the season would just reduce hunter opportunity and result in fewer overall deer being taken, again counterporductive to the goal.

My opinion:
The problem in the Hill Country is too many deer and too many does. Doe tags over the last 50 or so years have gone from non-existant, to hard-to-come-by, to easy to get. The result is that the long term trend is does are becomeing a higher percentage of the overall harvest, but we are still shooting more bucks than does.

What need to happen is:

1) Reduce the deer herd to within its carrying capacity. This means shoot more does!

2) Get the doe to buck ratio down from as high as 10 to 1 in some cases, to a more reasonable, and natural, 2 to 1, or so. This means shoot more does!

3)Let the young bucks grow up. In many counties, since most hunters still want to kill a buck, the vast majority of bucks killed are 18 months old. They will not be "trophy" caliber, no matter how good their genetics are.

4)Only after the population is within the carrying capacity (NUTRITION) and the bucks are allowed to reach their potential (AGE) does it even make sense to TRY to manipulate the genetics.

Of the three requirements for trophy deer (age, nutrition, and genetics) age and nutrition are comparitively easy to handle. It has been frequently said, and I agree, that trying to improve genetics in a free ranging deer herd is almost pointless (The AR's implemented in many counties in TX are not designed to improve genetics, they have been implemented to protect young bucks so that they can get older.)

Sorry to be so long winded, MN, hope that at least addresses your question.
 
Posts: 1415 | Location: Texas | Registered: 02 May 2003Reply With Quote
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quote:
Originally posted by olarmy:


(corn actually has very little nutritioinal value for deer).



Food consists of three things. Fat,protein,or carbohydrates.
A half cup of sweet corn contains about 17 grams of carbohydrates.A cup or two a day is enough to keep you from losing weight.Field corn probably has less.
I dont know how much a feeder spreads a day,but a few pounds a day would keep a few deer fed.It may not be optimum,but it would sure help.


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Posts: 2937 | Location: minnesota | Registered: 26 December 2002Reply With Quote
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jb: ok, let's look at some numbers. Of course it varies widely, but IME the typical corn feeder will use about 4 or 5 bags of corn per month. That 200 to 250 lbs, or about 6 or 8 lbs per day. If you have one feeder for say 200 acres, and a deer density of 10 acres per deer, you are feeding a maximum less than a half pound per day per deer.

Supplemental feeders of protein for deer talk in orders of magnitude higher than this. Add to this the fact that other critters, coons, mice, doves, quail, hogs, turkeys, javelina, coyotes, possums, etc all compete with the deer for corn, and you see that the amount of nutrition actually provided to the deer herd is minimal.

In addition, most corn feeders are shut down except during deer season, so even if they did help the herd get thru Sept thru Jan, many/most are not running during the high stress periods of post rut and summer heat.
 
Posts: 1415 | Location: Texas | Registered: 02 May 2003Reply With Quote
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quote:
Originally posted by olarmy:


Sorry to be so long winded, MN, hope that at least addresses your question.


olarmy-I think you and I are essentially talking about the same idea here. Since you live there you probably have a better handle on how much feeding and the type of feed being introduced to the population. My feeding assumptions come from several visits I have made to the hill country and the fact that there didn't used to be as many deer before feeding and now that there is feeding the deer population is out of control. I could be wrong on this but it seems to point to the deer herd being artificially maintained by supplemental feeding. My idea to stop feeding is based on the assumption that if they are being artificially maintained that herd will crash to natural levels if you remove the feed.

I will take you at your word that this artificially maintained herd isn't happening but I am not sure how you still have the problem you stated of overpopulation.

Either way you are right about getting to doe to buck ratio down. In fact I am kind of shocked when you talk about 10 does to 1 buck. That number not only sounds ridiculously out of whack but it sounds like a deer farm. I would go so far as to say you should aim for 2 bucks for every 1 doe.

As far as the high fences go thanks for the clarification. You are right again about me I thought that some selected ranches put up high fences to whack out the deer population on the ranch. If you are saying they are doing it to maintain a small piece of sanity amongst a huge deer herd management problem then I was wrong but the problem is the same just on a much bigger level. It seems like an entire area should be managed correctly so you don't need a high fence except for "property rights concerns" as you stated.

Now again for some people all these big numbers of deer is not a bad thing. 25 years ago I was a much less experienced deer hunter and I would dream about a place where I could just walk out and see tons of deer and just shoot one.

But now that isn't what I look for in a quality hunt and it sounds like you and several others are saying the same thing.
 
Posts: 242 | Location: Minneapolis, MN | Registered: 07 August 2009Reply With Quote
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This funny because it is something I have been preaching for years.

BUT then I don't care about the ultimate resultz so I watch with biological amusement.

Soon or later only the game farms will have large antlered/horned critters.



Don't limit your challenges . . .
Challenge your limits


 
Posts: 3906 | Location: TN USA | Registered: 17 March 2002Reply With Quote
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TCLouis: Texas will always have a great/healthy game population so long as the armchair experts are not allowed to interfere. Texas is home to many trophy WT deer in spite of all the previously mentioned "problems". Mother nature and a healthy dose of common sense will insure it.FWIW Dr.C


At Home on the Range-Texas Panhandle
 
Posts: 411 | Registered: 16 November 2006Reply With Quote
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Doc, I can't agree with this statement on any level.

Texas will always have a great/healthy game population so long as the armchair experts are not allowed to interfere. Texas is home to many trophy WT deer in spite of all the previously mentioned "problems". Mother nature and a healthy dose of common sense will insure it.

Too many areas already have too many deer for the habitat.

Don't know where you live, but with the areas I am familiar with, things are beginning to look like the Hill country, way to many deer.

When the bucks can not get enough food, it don't matter what their genetics are, they will not reach their genetic potential.

Just because a person is not a published author or have a degree from a college, that does not mean that they don't know what they are talking about, especially if they are in the field everyday, seeing first hand what is working and what isn't in a given area.

As I keep saying, Texas is a big state and conditions are Not The Same state wide, can you prove me wrong on anything I have just stated, I somehow doubt it.

Not meaning to be offensive here, but just as with TP&W, the firld biologists know more about what will and won't work in managing the white tail herds across the state, than the biologist setting at the headquarters in Austin.

Each of us that have posted, are basing our comments on what we are observing personally in the areas we operate in, I don't think that makes any of us "Arm Chair" deer managers.


Even the rocks don't last forever.



 
Posts: 31014 | Location: Olney, Texas | Registered: 27 March 2006Reply With Quote
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I hav practiced veterinary medecine for 40 years and hunted a damn site longer and this makes me an authoriety at nothing. However I'm in the country alot and the deer are doing fine. The stated fact that the range cannot support the deer population is BS along with the notion that ranchers and farmers are feeding the damn things and thereby allowing them to overpopulate is absolute hogwash. The guys from Minnesota have some good ideas and a lot of misconceptions as well. I agree that where the nutrition is best so are the trophies, this is not unique just to Texas, look at Africa. But, this is the way it is, nature at work. I cannot even imagine 2 bucks for every one doe, how utterly stupid would that be! Does have genetics too, you know that they all had a daddy so part of the formula for the almighty antler is contained in the doe part of the equation that someone thinks we should eliminate.In all phases of livestock husbantry maternal genetics are extremely important. Mother Nature weighs in very heavily in all of this. My intent is not to insult anyone, respectfully, Dr.C


At Home on the Range-Texas Panhandle
 
Posts: 411 | Registered: 16 November 2006Reply With Quote
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Sorry Doc, I just don't agree with you as I am seeing things a hell of a lot differently in the areas I am working in.

Also for the past 3 seasons I have been doing some work on a high fenced trophy ranch, Celebrity Ranch over by Thurber Texas,

They have 3300 actres under high fence and have a managed buck / doe ratio of 2 to 2.5 bucks per doe.

From experience it makes rut on that place one hell of a rodeo.

Anytime a person can go out and see 10 tp 12 or more does for every one buck they see, something is definitely out of whack.

TP&W has maintained for years that proper buck to doe ratio is 1 to 1, with 1 to 2 being acceptable in many areas.

Anything over 1 buck to 3 does is definitely not good.

Many hunters and managers feel that does should be taken out at the first of the season, preferrably before rut so the bucks will have to be more active trying to get to the does that are left.

Your a veteranarian, you tell me how many ranchers when they get too many cattle in their operation go out and shoot their best bulls?

They don't, they get rid of cows and calves, especially bull calves, deer ain't no damn different.

Unlike cattle however where the potential of each animal is fairly well known if the operation is being run properly, wild deer, unless they are in a pen raised situation are a crap shoot at best as to what they will turn out to be.


Even the rocks don't last forever.



 
Posts: 31014 | Location: Olney, Texas | Registered: 27 March 2006Reply With Quote
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Interesting thread with many perspectives.

There is no doubt in my mind that MANY Huge Trophy Bucks live through their natural life-span and are NEVER or rarely even seen by man. I base this on many years of finally seeing a HUGE Trophy Buck in the headlights when coming and going, that are never seen during daylight by hundreds of Hunters over the Season. No doubt they are passing on some excellent genetic traits.

Ialso agree with DocCash that the Doe is also half the genetics, but there is no way to know if she has good or bad genetics unless she is held as captive breeding stock - illegal where I Hunt.

So, we still Kill a lot of Does and any Spike or substandard Buck we see to get them out of the herd. Same as anyone who raises Stock, be it Cattle, Horses, etc.
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By the way, the annual Antler Events I visit seem to always have a bunch of new(year old), bigger and better Racks each year. If you are not getting your share of the Whopper Trophys, perhaps the problem is in the Hunter.

Good Hunting and clean 1-shot Kills.
 
Posts: 9920 | Location: Carolinas, USA | Registered: 22 April 2001Reply With Quote
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We assume that the the "best" genetics have everything to do with antler formation. That is faulty logic. That might be what the hunter wants but we hunters don't know what traits(genetics) will benefit the deer. We should want every kind of genetic mix to ensure that some may potentially with stand some form of disease or other environmental happening.

Also I think that in 99% of the real world white tail world, hunters don't control the genetics. This does not include hight fence properties.

It amazes me that some people can determine an "inferior" deer and then convince themselves that by taking it out of the gene pool they impacted the herd.

As has been stated does contribute to half of the genetics equation. Do they Wait for the best buck. I don't know, but I think that in nature "success" is breading. (period) If a doe is ready to breed she is not going to wait for the "right" buck to come along, it is not a good strategy for the survival of the species. I imagine younger capable deer get in a lot more breeding than older deer. Think about a teen/twenty's human and a thirty/forty year old human. Who's is working harder to get layed?

So besides a high fences property, if you think you are changing the deer herd my opinion is you are not. Aren't some killing these "inferior" bucks every year, and you will be killing them next year and so on. Just because you killed it this year it was able to breed for many years before.

It's fun to think we have an impact but for the most part the WILD herd you have is the WILD herd you will continue to have. That doesn't mean we can't let younger bucks get older and shoot more does to even out the buck to do ratio, but the genetics is what it is.
 
Posts: 368 | Location: NW Nebraska | Registered: 07 January 2007Reply With Quote
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Well Slim, I think you just nailed it. I couldn't agree more.
 
Posts: 1545 | Location: Texas | Registered: 26 July 2003Reply With Quote
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