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Antler Restrictions and Non-MLD Deer Management #5976571 10/14/15 06:02 AM
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ttechcolleyville Offline OP
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On our lease in Erath County, we have a significant and growing population of bucks with an antler characteristic where the antlers branch upward instead of outward. They will never be close to 13 inches. We've notice that many of them start out with a smooth spike on one side but branched on the other. We are able to take those unless it is in the extended season.

Our landowner is adamant that we cannot do MLD. But he has given us a free hand in how we manage what we harvest including culls. The problem is we can't deem a cull legal if it isn't a legal spike or 13 inches. We have about a 1,000 acres mostly surrounded by other property of the landowner. What do others faced with the same dilemma do? Since we can't manage them out, they will soon become the majority.

If you did harvest one of the mature ones - that might be close to 12 inches wide and obviously mature - would a game warden cut you any slack? We are starting to feel like the situation may be hopeless. The pics are mostly younger examples but we know from experience that they do not magically transform into traditional antlered bucks in the following years.





Re: Antler Restrictions and Non-MLD Deer Management [Re: ttechcolleyville] #5976626 10/14/15 11:12 AM
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I am seeing all young bucks in those pics, nothing mature. Shoot does and worry about over population by managing them. Need pics of mature bucks.


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Re: Antler Restrictions and Non-MLD Deer Management [Re: ttechcolleyville] #5976654 10/14/15 11:53 AM
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What I would also say is that your pics are all from this year. While I certainly understand the inclination to say that you have a problem, I would wait another year before accepting that there is a problem.

The reason I say this is because back in 2010, I had TC pics of 10 or 12 DIFFERENT bucks of all ages and each buck had a strong right side antler AND a weak left side. I saw all these bucks repeatedly throughout the season. It bothered me so much that I was bound and determined to bring as many shooters as I could bring to my place and cull, cull, cull the next year.

2011 rolls around and not a single buck had the same antler traits as 2010. Actually, every buck of all ages had a beautiful set of balanced antlers. FWIW.

Re: Antler Restrictions and Non-MLD Deer Management [Re: ttechcolleyville] #5976709 10/14/15 12:37 PM
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I'm seeing yearling bucks that look like all other yearling bucks, no matter where you are. Can you show us some other examples? How long have you been managing this herd?

Re: Antler Restrictions and Non-MLD Deer Management [Re: ttechcolleyville] #5976723 10/14/15 12:45 PM
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If I were you I would contact the TPWD game biologist for your area. Invite them to the ranch to do a survey and share your pics and observations with them. They might be able to help you have a clear picture of what you have and maybe convince your landowner of the possibility of going MLD.


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Re: Antler Restrictions and Non-MLD Deer Management [Re: ttechcolleyville] #5976729 10/14/15 12:48 PM
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Try to start them on protien, then go from there!

Re: Antler Restrictions and Non-MLD Deer Management [Re: ttechcolleyville] #5976747 10/14/15 12:55 PM
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how long have you been managing this place and can we see some pics of mature bucks?


Originally Posted By: cameron00
If I send my neighbors a text and ask them to give me feedback on my lawn and plant rye into a giant dong pattern, I'm probably going to get some less than positive feedback. Same goes here.
Re: Antler Restrictions and Non-MLD Deer Management [Re: ttechcolleyville] #5976759 10/14/15 01:00 PM
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Hard to judge what such young deer can or will do without history on the ranch or the herd. Over population can be the biggest problem if you have to many mouths to feed.

Re: Antler Restrictions and Non-MLD Deer Management [Re: tbgascorer] #5976893 10/14/15 02:10 PM
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ttechcolleyville Offline OP
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We have been on the lease 6 years. I can't say that we have managed it at all and that is a big part of the problem. Protein is not an option as LM won't push those who don't want to do it.

I'll find some more pics but only one above is a yearling - I have their "baby pics". I think I may have inadvertently answered my own question anyway. It doesn't matter.

We've not managed the lease because a couple people always resist any changes if it is going to cost them or they don't think it will help. Now that the problem has hit everyone square in the face, the resistance is that we can't we can't do anything anyway because we can't cull.

Re: Antler Restrictions and Non-MLD Deer Management [Re: ttechcolleyville] #5976900 10/14/15 02:15 PM
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Culling bucks does not solve the major problem. How many hunters on the lease? Do you have a survey? Do you know the CC of the area? What is your buck to doe ratio? What is your fawn crop like this year? How many deer are you taking off the ranch yearly? Are you killing does to bring the buck to doe ratio in range? Most people want to start a management plan by culling bucks which many times is wrong. You can do more for a deer herd sometimes by culling does instead of bucks.


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Re: Antler Restrictions and Non-MLD Deer Management [Re: ttechcolleyville] #5976959 10/14/15 02:44 PM
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any chance of talking the members into letting all bucks walk for a season or 2?

I think shooting does and letting all bucks walk will bring a noticeable difference.


Originally Posted By: cameron00
If I send my neighbors a text and ask them to give me feedback on my lawn and plant rye into a giant dong pattern, I'm probably going to get some less than positive feedback. Same goes here.
Re: Antler Restrictions and Non-MLD Deer Management [Re: ttechcolleyville] #5977241 10/14/15 05:14 PM
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ttechcolleyville Offline OP
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That has come up. It is a very interesting set of dynamics out there. While most seem averse to rules regarding management and harvesting, there are no indiscriminate shooters out there. So most have no issue passing on on their big buck. But if one person doesn't want to agree, we back off pushing for it - or anything.

Re: Antler Restrictions and Non-MLD Deer Management [Re: stxranchman] #5977263 10/14/15 05:25 PM
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We have issues around all of those items. That is what I meant above when I referenced that I think I answered my own question - it doesn't matter. We have too many does and have known that from day one, yet other than a few of us making sure we take all our does, we leave too many. Same with spikes. Most hunters save the spikes for family members and then we up not seeing them again. I believe we let at least 4 non-yearling spikes get past us last year even though seen my multiple hunters with open tags. 3 of them have been seen this year and all now have another point which means they will be reproducing until they die a natural death.

Originally Posted By: stxranchman
Culling bucks does not solve the major problem. How many hunters on the lease? Do you have a survey? Do you know the CC of the area? What is your buck to doe ratio? What is your fawn crop like this year? How many deer are you taking off the ranch yearly? Are you killing does to bring the buck to doe ratio in range? Most people want to start a management plan by culling bucks which many times is wrong. You can do more for a deer herd sometimes by culling does instead of bucks.

Re: Antler Restrictions and Non-MLD Deer Management [Re: ttechcolleyville] #5977388 10/14/15 07:07 PM
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There are bigger bucks around, I'm sure. Those all look young. You need to at the very least, do a survey of your own. Have everyone write down what they see, on stand and on camera. After a while you'll get an idea of how many deer you have, age structure, buck doe ratio, etc. Then you can make an educated guess on what to do.


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Re: Antler Restrictions and Non-MLD Deer Management [Re: ttechcolleyville] #5977478 10/14/15 08:06 PM
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try this….

1) shoot does, like 3 does to every 1 buck killed
2) only cull bucks that are 4.5+ years old (and really cull the ones you don't like early and often, even it means you use up all your buck tags on crappy bucks for a few years) start with older 6,7,8 pts that are 4.5+ years old
DO NOT shoot ANY 2.5/3.5 year old bucks with branched antlers (especially the nice 9,10,11+ pts)

if your group will "take out the trash" on 1000 acres, in 3 years you will see a lot more MATURE bucks with 9,10,11+ points

It takes time to get a property right….been doing this for 10+ years on a property and seeing a lot of improvements, but still aren't there yet. I'll say this…I see A LOT of 10pts and I don't shoot them because they are either too young OR I want them to be the ones that spread the genes. I love popping off on an old "trash buck" A big old 6,7 pt is an awesome kill to me! An old doe gets me excited too.

I'll kill a trophy (5.5/6.5 year old wall hanger) about once every 3-4 years, but the number of years is decreasing because the number of quality, mature bucks are there and the number of trash bucks are harder to come by

Re: Antler Restrictions and Non-MLD Deer Management [Re: ttechcolleyville] #5979755 10/16/15 02:09 AM
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ttechcolleyville Offline OP
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Thanks for all the input. On the spike issue, let me add some clarity around the antler traits that are increasing at our lease. These bucks have thinner antlers, usually with one slightly rounded antler on one side and straight on the other. As spikes, they have a slight curl (as you can see in the yearling spike in the pic from this morning below).

Next year, he will start to fork on one side and may still be smooth on the other or have small branch forming on the other. Sometimes the one antler is unbranched so they are still a legal spike one more year. But not after 3 years where they end up like one of the bucks in the second two pics. Occasionally one like in the third pic will get close enough to outside the ears that we might take the risk to harvest him.

That all said, would you take this spike or not and those where we can identify those like him?




Re: Antler Restrictions and Non-MLD Deer Management [Re: ttechcolleyville] #5980217 10/16/15 01:39 PM
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Clip from a QDMA article on culling. Says to do these things first:

–Adjust the deer numbers to within the carrying capacity of the habitat so that you have optimal population size.

–Improve the habitat to the point that it is optimal as well, so you have optimal habitat quality and optimal deer density.

–Balance the adult sex ratio. This will be partly achieved through doe harvest as you reduce the deer density, but the other half of the equation is passing immature and middle-aged bucks.

–Achieve a situation in which you have high fawn recruitment and survival every year due to quality habitat and a balanced buck/doe ratio.

–Achieve a balanced buck age structure with bucks of all ages represented and – here’s the important kicker – an excess of mature bucks. This requirement alone will be a tough step on the ladder for most deer managers to climb.

–Collect enough local data to identify the average mature buck in terms of body size, gross score and antler configuration, so that you can identify the difference between an above average and below average mature buck in the field.

Re: Antler Restrictions and Non-MLD Deer Management [Re: ttechcolleyville] #5981704 10/17/15 07:41 PM
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I have a question... What if there is a deer that has one broken antler? Would that be legal if it was just one unbranched piece, or if it was missing one antler all together?


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