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Natural mortality of bucks #7814001 04/21/20 04:30 PM
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Lets take a break from Covid deaths and talk about deer deaths. I wonder how many die of natural causes. Ive never really researched it or heard much about it. I would think it has been studied. Common sense, I think, would say that a place that stays real shot up would probably not have many get old enough to die off. A well managed place should have a lot more older bucks so it seems more would die off. Although, a REAL well managed place would be efficient and selective in their killing so that numbers were controlled by killing inferior bucks, at least by maturity, to keep them out of post mature age class. Of course, a tight sex ratio would cause more fighting which can be deadly. And then too many deer means not enough food, so once again, death. The factors go on and on I guess. I didn't think this through much so help me out, teach me.....


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Re: Natural mortality of bucks [Re: freerange] #7814026 04/21/20 04:46 PM
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Tight sex ratio and increased fighting - this is not good thinking from here. Tight sex ratios will indeed cause fights among seemingly stupid over-focused males in their pursuit of procreation, no doubt about that. It's just the best way to handle it. Even if not so tight sex rations, the numbers play out and grow tighter after each estrus cycle. So fight now or fight later It's going to happen. The best way for a buck to come off the rut is as quickly as possible. The quicker the does can get covered, the better. That means the estrus stops flowing and so will the buck response.

Those there does will typically cycle again every 28 days if not impregnated. You want as few of those 28 day re-cycles as possible. Those there bucks will literally screw themselves into a very bad, weakened position if allowed to be in the hunt for female companionship months and months.

Re: Natural mortality of bucks [Re: Hudbone] #7814042 04/21/20 04:56 PM
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Hud, all good points for sure. Generally speaking tight sex ratios are almost always good. Exactly how you define "tight" would depend on each specific situation and the goals of the managers/hunters. Just to clarify for all, I wasn't suggesting any of my points were good or bad or right or wrong. I just threw a few out to get some ideas going.


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Re: Natural mortality of bucks [Re: freerange] #7814053 04/21/20 05:03 PM
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This buck died last year on our lease. We think of old age. He still had a little velvet on his horns so we estimate he died in late September. We had him on cameras for 6 years and never saw him in person. There’s no way to get an exact age on him but he looked old 6 years ago so we say 10+.

Re: Natural mortality of bucks [Re: freerange] #7814113 04/21/20 05:50 PM
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That's a bummer. What a handsome deer.

Re: Natural mortality of bucks [Re: TKandMike] #7814154 04/21/20 06:33 PM
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Originally Posted by TKandMike
That's a bummer. What a handsome deer.


Just curious but why is it a bummer? A buck that lived a long time, putting his genes into the gene pool and then dying of old age is nature. Someone still has his antlers. Just because a hunter didn't kill him instead of good old Mother Nature isn't something to bemoan. Feel free to disagree but sometimes I think we as hunters take our eye off the big picture.


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Re: Natural mortality of bucks [Re: freerange] #7814179 04/21/20 06:52 PM
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I'd bet that less than 15% of bucks make 5.5 years of age, regardless of reason. Predation, auto accidents, incidental accidents (broken limbs/infections/caught in fences), snakebites, parasites-LOTS of deadly reasons out there as to why deer pass on.


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Re: Natural mortality of bucks [Re: QuitShootinYoungBucks] #7814200 04/21/20 07:03 PM
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Originally Posted by QuitShootinYoungBucks
I'd bet that less than 15% of bucks make 5.5 years of age, regardless of reason. Predation, auto accidents, incidental accidents (broken limbs/infections/caught in fences), snakebites, parasites-LOTS of deadly reasons out there as to why deer pass on.

That's some of the insight im curious about. I know the 15% number would vary greatly depending on the situation but agree lots of death going on for various reasons. Im sure there are lots of studies out there on this but I just haven't looked for them. We almost never kill deer under 5 on our very big place that has very good neighbors. We are pretty efficient at killing the mature bucks that we do have. Still just do not see a whole lot of post mature bucks, so I agree theres lots of ways a buck(or deer) can die. The wild is a rough place to live a long life.


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Re: Natural mortality of bucks [Re: freerange] #7814344 04/21/20 09:19 PM
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Most bucks that survive hunters/predators/etc. die from tooth wear/tooth loss (similar to horses) - they can not longer chew the browse. Of course with the addition of protein that has helped on severe toothwear -

We had a buck the first year I got on our lease that we thought was around 3-4 years old at the time. We got trail camera pictures of him each year but saw him live rarely. Our neighbor took him a couple of years ago - we estimated his age at a minimum of 12 years old

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Re: Natural mortality of bucks [Re: freerange] #7814393 04/21/20 09:56 PM
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Originally Posted by freerange
Lets take a break from Covid deaths and talk about deer deaths. I wonder how many die of natural causes. Ive never really researched it or heard much about it. I would think it has been studied. Common sense, I think, would say that a place that stays real shot up would probably not have many get old enough to die off. A well managed place should have a lot more older bucks so it seems more would die off. Although, a REAL well managed place would be efficient and selective in their killing so that numbers were controlled by killing inferior bucks, at least by maturity, to keep them out of post mature age class. Of course, a tight sex ratio would cause more fighting which can be deadly. And then too many deer means not enough food, so once again, death. The factors go on and on I guess. I didn't think this through much so help me out, teach me.....


A LOT. Mother nature (Anthrax) took out an estimated 300 deer on our place last year



Re: Natural mortality of bucks [Re: freerange] #7814421 04/21/20 10:35 PM
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had an old lady rancher that bottle raised a doe that lived to be 17 years old in her house pasture (no hunting allowed) ... so they can live a long time


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Re: Natural mortality of bucks [Re: freerange] #7814434 04/21/20 10:44 PM
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12% of each age class per year die on average based on a study done at the King Ranch years ago.

YMMV based on supplemental feeding, antibiotic treatments, environmental variances, etc.

this study on the callaghan showed mortality increases significantly with age.
https://www.researchgate.net/public...rtality_of_Mature_Male_White-Tailed_Deer


Last edited by kyle1974; 04/21/20 10:47 PM.
Re: Natural mortality of bucks [Re: kyle1974] #7814500 04/21/20 11:35 PM
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Originally Posted by kyle1974
12% of each age class per year die on average based on a study done at the King Ranch years ago.

YMMV based on supplemental feeding, antibiotic treatments, environmental variances, etc.

this study on the callaghan showed mortality increases significantly with age.
https://www.researchgate.net/public...rtality_of_Mature_Male_White-Tailed_Deer



Mortality increases with anybody's age! lol


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Re: Natural mortality of bucks [Re: tlk] #7815045 04/22/20 01:08 PM
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Originally Posted by tlk
Originally Posted by kyle1974
12% of each age class per year die on average based on a study done at the King Ranch years ago.

YMMV based on supplemental feeding, antibiotic treatments, environmental variances, etc.

this study on the callaghan showed mortality increases significantly with age.
https://www.researchgate.net/public...rtality_of_Mature_Male_White-Tailed_Deer



Mortality increases with anybody's age! lol

actually it doesn't. With humans there is a higher rate of mortality with 1-2 year olds than 10 year olds for example. The study on the Callaghan showed an almost linear increase in mortality from 1 to 7. I wouldn't have thought mortality with 3 year olds would really be higher than 2 year olds.

the king ranch study showing a more constant 10-12% mortality rate due to sickness, injuries, post rut conditions, etc seems more plausible IMO

Last edited by kyle1974; 04/22/20 01:21 PM.
Re: Natural mortality of bucks [Re: freerange] #7815114 04/22/20 02:09 PM
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We find a buck dead every or every other year. The ages are all over the place.


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Re: Natural mortality of bucks [Re: QuitShootinYoungBucks] #7815151 04/22/20 02:28 PM
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Originally Posted by QuitShootinYoungBucks
I'd bet that less than 15% of bucks make 5.5 years of age, regardless of reason. Predation, auto accidents, incidental accidents (broken limbs/infections/caught in fences), snakebites, parasites-LOTS of deadly reasons out there as to why deer pass on.


And based on what I've read on the subject, I would bet the majority of those who make it to that age will eventually die of old age, which can be as much as 8-10 years old or more. I mean, short of the high-fenced places where deer live much like livestock, how often do you see or hear of a buck that old being taken by a hunter.

Last edited by Texas Dan; 04/22/20 02:29 PM.

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Re: Natural mortality of bucks [Re: freerange] #7815155 04/22/20 02:30 PM
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I don't believe there is much of a "Natural Mortality" on Bucks around here unless it is maybe a very large property that is not hunted.

Re: Natural mortality of bucks [Re: kyle1974] #7815327 04/22/20 04:23 PM
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Originally Posted by kyle1974
Originally Posted by tlk
Originally Posted by kyle1974
12% of each age class per year die on average based on a study done at the King Ranch years ago.

YMMV based on supplemental feeding, antibiotic treatments, environmental variances, etc.

this study on the callaghan showed mortality increases significantly with age.
https://www.researchgate.net/public...rtality_of_Mature_Male_White-Tailed_Deer



Mortality increases with anybody's age! lol

actually it doesn't. With humans there is a higher rate of mortality with 1-2 year olds than 10 year olds for example. The study on the Callaghan showed an almost linear increase in mortality from 1 to 7. I wouldn't have thought mortality with 3 year olds would really be higher than 2 year olds.

the king ranch study showing a more constant 10-12% mortality rate due to sickness, injuries, post rut conditions, etc seems more plausible IMO

Very interesting stuff. I haven't read the links yet, but that's the kind of studies I was curious about. Thanks Kyle.


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Re: Natural mortality of bucks [Re: don k] #7815333 04/22/20 04:26 PM
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Originally Posted by don k
I don't believe there is much of a "Natural Mortality" on Bucks around here unless it is maybe a very large property that is not hunted.

Don, I assume you are saying that they are shot by hunters before they can die of other causes. I think that is likely the case on many poorly managed places(shot out).


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Re: Natural mortality of bucks [Re: freerange] #7815512 04/22/20 06:32 PM
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I think there are a lot more older deer running around than most people believe. Just personal opinion but there is no way 95% of the pictures posted here are 3 to 5 year old deer.

Re: Natural mortality of bucks [Re: Leonardo] #7815531 04/22/20 06:44 PM
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Originally Posted by Leonardo
I think there are a lot more older deer running around than most people believe. Just personal opinion but there is no way 95% of the pictures posted here are 3 to 5 year old deer.

I believe that for areas that are t hunted or at heavily managed, but I hunted for years with cameras out and we only killed 1 mature deer amongst heavy hunting pressure.


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Re: Natural mortality of bucks [Re: Leonardo] #7815550 04/22/20 06:55 PM
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Originally Posted by Leonardo
I think there are a lot more older deer running around than most people believe. Just personal opinion but there is no way 95% of the pictures posted here are 3 to 5 year old deer.

Leonardo, can you clarify that. Where did the 95 number come from? Are you saying that a lot of pics posted on here are older than 5? Im not judging your opinion, I just don't understand it.


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Re: Natural mortality of bucks [Re: Leonardo] #7815587 04/22/20 07:26 PM
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Originally Posted by Leonardo
I think there are a lot more older deer running around than most people believe.


I agree with this part - TPWD estimates there are currently up to 4 million whitetail deer in Texas. Each year an average of 550,000 are harvested by hunters - 55% bucks/45% does. So on any given year, 1/8 of the deer population is harvested by hunters, and the population estimates still continue to go up...even with other causes of death like old age, autos, predators, etc.


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Re: Natural mortality of bucks [Re: kyle1974] #7815709 04/22/20 09:09 PM
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Originally Posted by kyle1974
Originally Posted by tlk
Originally Posted by kyle1974
12% of each age class per year die on average based on a study done at the King Ranch years ago.

YMMV based on supplemental feeding, antibiotic treatments, environmental variances, etc.

this study on the callaghan showed mortality increases significantly with age.
https://www.researchgate.net/public...rtality_of_Mature_Male_White-Tailed_Deer



Mortality increases with anybody's age! lol

actually it doesn't. With humans there is a higher rate of mortality with 1-2 year olds than 10 year olds for example. The study on the Callaghan showed an almost linear increase in mortality from 1 to 7. I wouldn't have thought mortality with 3 year olds would really be higher than 2 year olds.

the king ranch study showing a more constant 10-12% mortality rate due to sickness, injuries, post rut conditions, etc seems more plausible IMO


I think the mortality rate of fawns passes that of any age class until extreme old age. Compare apples to apples and the answer is still the same, mortality is high close to birth, once weaned it goes down considerably and steadily rises through post mature age. Applies to humans and other mammals pretty much the same with a small difference in sex to account for different behaviors

Re: Natural mortality of bucks [Re: freerange] #7815716 04/22/20 09:14 PM
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Originally Posted by freerange
Originally Posted by Leonardo
I think there are a lot more older deer running around than most people believe. Just personal opinion but there is no way 95% of the pictures posted here are 3 to 5 year old deer.

Leonardo, can you clarify that. Where did the 95 number come from? Are you saying that a lot of pics posted on here are older than 5? Im not judging your opinion, I just don't understand it.


95 was just a made up number from a majority of game camera photos that people post.

Personal experience, I had a lease in Archer County, plenty of mature big deer on it and they would disappear for years. Had a specific 10pt we called Shorty, G2 on his left side was about one third the size of his other tines, very easy to identify. First two years we had pictures of this deer regularly and saw him a couple of times. After that he completely disappeared for 4 years. Not one photo or sighting of the buck. We had aged him at 3 to 4 years old our first year on the lease. On the 4th year he jumps into the feeder pen, hangs around all morning, and we never see him again.

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