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Mar 25th, 2012
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Hill Country Deer MGMT ? #5373118 10/22/14 11:16 AM
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TxHillCntry21 Offline OP
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Ok, so I've hunted the Texas hill country for 22 years in Harper, Junction, Kerrville, Willow City areas. The deer on my lease in Willow City rarely reach 5 years of age. We have tried to implement rules and guidelines to help grow larger/mature bucks, feeding protein through the spring and summer months as well. Last year 2 bucks out of 10 that were shot were 4 or older. This year on my Game Cam I'm getting lots of pictures of 3-4 yr old bucks. Most of them are nice 8's with the occasional 9-10 or kicker on a G2. Also getting pics of 3-4 year old 6 and an 8 with no brow tines, both deer are 18 inches wide or better. I know the hill country genetics show a lot of short/no brow tine deer. We have tried killing them off in the past, only to have it reemerge a few years later.

My question is, do I shoot the wide, no brow tine bucks that I am seeing now. The ones that are 18-19 inches wide at 3 years old, or do I let them walk and allow the deer herd in general become more mature?

The large spread on these bucks are nice, but we have several bucks with 4-5 inch brow tines and good tine length throughout. Just looking to harvest more mature bucks year in and year out.


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Re: Hill Country Deer MGMT ? [Re: TxHillCntry21] #5373158 10/22/14 11:42 AM
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I just got off a lease on the Blanco County line on 1323 a few miles from you. In the 8 years I was on it, we never could get agreement on management guidelines and so there were a lot of 2 and 3 year old bucks taken, regardless of their racks. In talking with a guy who hunted the adjacent property, they had worked to eliminate a lot of 7 pts that they'd seen. I also saw a few of those over the years. If you want to reduce the impact of the "no brow tine gene" it would seem that taking those bucks out as culls when they are younger would be a good idea. Let the ones you want to reproduce mature longer.

Re: Hill Country Deer MGMT ? [Re: TxHillCntry21] #5373161 10/22/14 11:44 AM
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I feel your pain. All I have are babies on our place in Bandera. I'm shooting nothing but does this year in the hopes I can run into something a bit more respectable in the future.

Re: Hill Country Deer MGMT ? [Re: TxHillCntry21] #5373176 10/22/14 11:52 AM
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That's kind of where I'm at. We discuss every year that only mature bucks need to be taken and our neighbors are trying to do the same. The progress has been noticed over the last 5 years. The 3 year olds are starting to have larger racks and is causing them to be misjudged by some of our hunters. Ground checking deer only to find out he was younger than expected.


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Re: Hill Country Deer MGMT ? [Re: TxHillCntry21] #5373298 10/22/14 01:01 PM
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I would take out the no brow tine bucks if it were me


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Re: Hill Country Deer MGMT ? [Re: TxHillCntry21] #5373469 10/22/14 02:13 PM
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you know the does carry the gene also. that is prolly why the gene you are trying to eliminate keeps popping up. start wiping out the older does and turn the herd over. most folks focus on the buck side of management but thats only 50% of the problem. no you cant tell what does carry the bad gene but if you start taking the older ones out and leaving the younger does hopefully offspring from your better deer you could be going the right direction faster. on the ranch i used to manage, we had one area of the ranch that the bucks were quality wise worse than the rest of the ranch. we went in and wiped out several does and with in a few years those bucks started getting better.
just my imput.

Last edited by ancuegar; 10/22/14 02:15 PM.
Re: Hill Country Deer MGMT ? [Re: TxHillCntry21] #5373492 10/22/14 02:23 PM
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I guide on a west Texas ranch where they have MLD permits. The no brow tine bucks are discounted so we get rid of them. You could get with the TPWD game manager and get a good opinion for your area, eh?

Re: Hill Country Deer MGMT ? [Re: TxHillCntry21] #5373515 10/22/14 02:34 PM
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Originally Posted By: TxHillCntry21


My question is, do I shoot the wide, no brow tine bucks that I am seeing now. The ones that are 18-19 inches wide at 3 years old, or do I let them walk and allow the deer herd in general become more mature?


if there arent many of them, i would take them out. if they make up a bigger percentage i would select the bottom of them. why let a "cull" deer make more cull deer.

Re: Hill Country Deer MGMT ? [Re: TxHillCntry21] #5373518 10/22/14 02:34 PM
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What are you doing on doe management? I managed a ranch in Kendall County that had a lot of deer with one or no browtines the first and second year. By the 3rd year almost all of them had browtines. So a lot will depend on your herd and genetics. What I did in the 3rd year was start to cull bucks 2yrs old and older that were missing one or both brows. We had a tight buck to doe ratio and need to kill deer to keep numbers down. For the most part every ranch in the Hill Country I was on or had friends on had great browtines. One thing you can do is to try to protect the bucks with better browtines for a few years. Once you started getting fawn crops from those bucks then start protecting the young does. If a doe does not have a fawn, do not shoot her till she does. I would shoot does with fawns to protect the younger and what should be better genetics in the herd.



Re: Hill Country Deer MGMT ? [Re: TxHillCntry21] #5373533 10/22/14 02:38 PM
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I say focus on overall population and getting deer to maturity. Any pics of all the 18-19 inch wide deer? I don't remember them being a dime a dozen.


It's hell eatin em live
Re: Hill Country Deer MGMT ? [Re: TxHillCntry21] #5373545 10/22/14 02:46 PM
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Chances are you don't have enough tag numbers to effectively cull for genetics.

I personally would concentrate on total population numbers including does. You can have the most impact on doe numbers via your licenses. Once you have gotten to a decent ratio then you can decide which bucks you want to pass on and which you no longer want to support. You put a 5.5 year old harvest restriction on yourself, you will be surprised on how many make it to 5.5

Re: Hill Country Deer MGMT ? [Re: TxHillCntry21] #5373609 10/22/14 03:19 PM
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The doe management side of the of equation is probably the problem on the current lease. Guys go out looking to make the Top 10 sheet for largest buck taken on the lease. Has to score about 125 or so to make #10 now. A far cry from the 105-110 score that held the record 10 years ago.So guys hunt their trophy til after Thanksgiving Weekend. This is when the frustration hits and some of the guys start shooting 3yr old 8's that would likely be something special in a couple years. Kind of frustrating but... they pay the same amount I pay. Just wish I was lease manager to establish a strict set of rules.

Few does are taken off our place each year, but our numbers do not seem lopsided. I'm trying to stress the point to guys on the lease that we need to start taking more does, don't just leave them for the youth hunters to take. I feel that reducing the doe population will help significantly, genes and health of the herd.

Any input on how to convey to guys how important it is on taking DOES and "cull" bucks? I have taken bucks with little to no brow tines in the past, trying to relay the message that this is not the genetics we want our deer to pass on. Only for the guys to say " Hey that's only a 3 yr old 8 as well".... yes, point being he is inferior to our other 3yr old bucks that we want to mature.


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Re: Hill Country Deer MGMT ? [Re: TxHillCntry21] #5373614 10/22/14 03:21 PM
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I will post pictures of several bucks from my lease this year to get a better opinion. Most are deer from last year that I let walk... the extra year has def. helped

Will post pics of the 18-19 inch bucks this evening after work.


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Re: Hill Country Deer MGMT ? [Re: redchevy] #5373622 10/22/14 03:23 PM
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Originally Posted By: redchevy
I say focus on overall population and getting deer to maturity. Any pics of all the 18-19 inch wide deer? I don't remember them being a dime a dozen.


We seem to have one hit the 18 inch mark every year. Those deer seem to lack overall tine length but the spread will sure get you excited


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Re: Hill Country Deer MGMT ? [Re: TxHillCntry21] #5373649 10/22/14 03:33 PM
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Originally Posted By: TxHillCntry21
Originally Posted By: redchevy
I say focus on overall population and getting deer to maturity. Any pics of all the 18-19 inch wide deer? I don't remember them being a dime a dozen.


We seem to have one hit the 18 inch mark every year. Those deer seem to lack overall tine length but the spread will sure get you excited


I hunted Kendal co and that was common most any deer that we saw that was 17 plus inches wide had 3-4 inch tines and several of those were 6 pt's with no brow tines.

We fed year round and shot as many does as we could that made the biggest difference.


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Re: Hill Country Deer MGMT ? [Re: TxHillCntry21] #5373658 10/22/14 03:36 PM
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The only way you can sell it to them is if they want to shoot bigger bucks. If they are happy shooting what they are shooting then your out of luck.

We had hunters that hunted for 20-30 years and never shot a deer over 100 b&c and were content. When the first ones in the 120 showed up and someone tagged a 140 I feel like the concensus changed and people at least started letting the younger bucks walk. They don't shoot the does like they should anymore, but face facts, not every family will use 5 deer a year and paying to process that many is expensive.


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Re: Hill Country Deer MGMT ? [Re: TxHillCntry21] #5373791 10/22/14 04:28 PM
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That's exactly our problem, every guy has been on the lease 15 years or longer, and everyone has shot an 8 or better that has scored 115 or so. A couple 10's and a 12 have been shot that are mid 130's to 140.

The same 2 guys end up saying "Man, I never see deer like that" so they end up shooting two 8's, and a doe. Never gonna see a 140 if that keeps happening. 5 of us tend to do most of the "mgmt minded" hunting letting younger deer walk. End up letting several young deer walk and neglecting to shoot does while hunting for our "trophy" buck.

Thanks for the input, looking for good topics to bring up to the guys next weekend.


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Re: Hill Country Deer MGMT ? [Re: TxHillCntry21] #5373817 10/22/14 04:44 PM
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Originally Posted By: TxHillCntry21
That's exactly our problem, every guy has been on the lease 15 years or longer, and everyone has shot an 8 or better that has scored 115 or so. A couple 10's and a 12 have been shot that are mid 130's to 140.

The same 2 guys end up saying "Man, I never see deer like that" so they end up shooting two 8's, and a doe. Never gonna see a 140 if that keeps happening. 5 of us tend to do most of the "mgmt minded" hunting letting younger deer walk. End up letting several young deer walk and neglecting to shoot does while hunting for our "trophy" buck.

Thanks for the input, looking for good topics to bring up to the guys next weekend.


Sounds like you're the new kid on the block so to speak.
Might not want to be too pushy if you like the lease!....Just sayin!

Re: Hill Country Deer MGMT ? [Re: TxHillCntry21] #5373826 10/22/14 04:53 PM
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I agree with jimbo, don't be too pushy or you will be looking for a place to hunt and it doesn't sound like what you have is too bad.

What you describe is the reason we bought our place. If you cant get them to shoot 3 does instead of 2 young bucks and a doe it will be a tuff row to hoe. That said they pay their fee and its up to them what to shoot.


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Re: Hill Country Deer MGMT ? [Re: TxHillCntry21] #5373876 10/22/14 05:24 PM
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Definitely wont be pushy with the guys on the lease. 2 elderly men and their kids make up the 7 of us. The 2 older guys are the ones shooting whatever walks out... can't blame them. Just enjoy our time hunting together. Just looking to better the deer herd in my current situation.

I've hunted Mexico for several years so I know I'm not going to find that caliber deer on this lease. That being said, Deer Hunting consumes my every thought and I'm always hunting a mature deer for whatever area I am in.

All things aside, great lease with and even better group of guys, wouldn't change it for the world. only trying to better the current situation.


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Re: Hill Country Deer MGMT ? [Re: TxHillCntry21] #5373918 10/22/14 05:44 PM
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I've hunted a small lease in Real County for a while now and on average we've taken a buck or two each season. We've managed a few nice ones over the years, but nothing that would go over the 120" mark.

The main problem in our area, as in most of the Hill Country, is that bucks don't often live past 2-1/2 or 3-1/2 years old due to hunting pressure. From a management standpoint it makes it difficult to grow mature deer. The ARs have drastically improved the East Texas herd, but because of deer densities in Central Texas it's impractical to place such regulations in that part of the state.

That said, we still have good numbers of whitetail and other exotics so doesn't bother us too badly, but would like to see more hunters in the area pass on those younger bucks.


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Re: Hill Country Deer MGMT ? [Re: TxHillCntry21] #5374064 10/22/14 07:03 PM
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We're in a similar position in Llano Co. If it does not have brow tines at 2.5 it gets culled, regardless of the rest of the rack. It is a long uphill battle but we have been at it for 4 years now and are seeing results. Last year I don't think I had a single deer without brows, and this year just one so far.

Now, as to the other problem of good 3.5yos getting shot, that's another story. We have 2 neighbors managing just like us, and two who shoot anything and everything. Sometimes it hurts to think about how much protein you fed that deer, and how many times you passed, just to see the neighbor kill him young. Ahh well.


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Re: Hill Country Deer MGMT ? [Re: TxHillCntry21] #5374080 10/22/14 07:10 PM
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If I had a 3 YO that was 18-19 wide I would let him walk just to see what he does personally. Even if he never has brows he could be one heck of a trophy if he puts on lots of mass as he ages.

Re: Hill Country Deer MGMT ? [Re: TxHillCntry21] #5374200 10/22/14 08:12 PM
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We are south of you have any started seeing a bunch about 5 years ago and decided to start shooting the mature no brow tie bucks and not we hardly see any. It obviously seems to be working and we are also seeing the quality of the other deer deer go up.

Re: Hill Country Deer MGMT ? [Re: TxHillCntry21] #5374401 10/22/14 10:25 PM
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Shoot the no browtine deer! There is a high fence place near me that shoots all 3 pts and less and kills all bucks with no browtines. All native hill country deer. You should see the trophy bucks on that place! 150-160 every year.

Last edited by HarperDeer; 10/22/14 10:26 PM.
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