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Author Topic: Which deer to take in an underpopulated GMU?  (Read 2123 times)

Offline yakimanoob

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Which deer to take in an underpopulated GMU?
« on: March 06, 2017, 09:58:19 AM »
FIRST: I'm not interested in talking about ethics here.  I'm interested in pragmatic cause-effect relationships, and I'm trying to learn more about deer. 

I live near Naches, and mule deer here are underpopulated according to the WDFW status and trend reports.  http://dfw.wa.gov/publications/01875/

Let's ASSUME that assessment is accurate, rather than arguing about the validity of the WDFW numbers/conclusions.  And let's assume I'm going to kill a buck.  My question is: if I have the choice between a young 3 point and a mature 4x4, which one has a higher chance of breeding more females? 

For instance, say I'm tracking a group of deer in the same area and I've identified both bucks.  Killing one during modern rifle means that animal doesn't get to make babies for next year.  So if my mind is made up to harvest one or the other, which one should I take to maximize the number of bred does in the coming rut? 

What do you think?


Side note: I was fortunate enough to harvest a cryptorchid 3x3 on Cleman Mtn last year, so there's one less sterile buck in the world and more food/ladies for the boys who can make babies  :tup:

Offline Rainier10

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Re: Which deer to take in an underpopulated GMU?
« Reply #1 on: March 06, 2017, 10:16:25 AM »
My opinion is to shoot the older buck.  The younger bucks will breed just as many does and have more years ahead of them as far as breeding.  If you give the younger bucks a pass it gives them another year to get wiser.  Just my  :twocents:
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Offline Curly

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Re: Which deer to take in an underpopulated GMU?
« Reply #2 on: March 06, 2017, 10:20:35 AM »
Shoot the small 3.  The meat will be more tender and taste better.
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Re: Which deer to take in an underpopulated GMU?
« Reply #3 on: March 06, 2017, 10:23:43 AM »
You should shoot the more mature older buck every time.
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Offline yakimanoob

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Re: Which deer to take in an underpopulated GMU?
« Reply #4 on: March 06, 2017, 10:28:54 AM »
You should shoot the more mature older buck every time.

Why?  Do younger bucks breed more does if the older one is not in the picture?

Offline KFhunter

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Re: Which deer to take in an underpopulated GMU?
« Reply #5 on: March 06, 2017, 10:35:21 AM »
My opinion is to shoot the older buck.  The younger bucks will breed just as many does and have more years ahead of them as far as breeding.  If you give the younger bucks a pass it gives them another year to get wiser.  Just my  :twocents:

The younger bucks wouldn't travel as much and more likely to inbreed locally, they wouldn't really have a rut pattern established they'd follow like an older buck would. 

The mature buck would travel their well established rut travel/search patterns, sometimes travelling quite a ways and would cover more does.  The older buck would be more efficient as well.

Offline yakimanoob

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Re: Which deer to take in an underpopulated GMU?
« Reply #6 on: March 06, 2017, 10:38:45 AM »

The younger bucks wouldn't travel as much and more likely to inbreed locally, they wouldn't really have a rut pattern established they'd follow like an older buck would. 

The mature buck would travel their well established rut patterns  sometimes travelling quite a ways and would cover more does.

Thanks KFhunter!  This is exactly the kind of learning I'm after.  Can you recommend some reading for me to learn more about these kinds of patterns/effects?

Offline KFhunter

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Re: Which deer to take in an underpopulated GMU?
« Reply #7 on: March 06, 2017, 10:43:58 AM »
I might see an article while sitting in the Dr. office and that's about it.  The rags always focus on giant antlers and what latest trinket you must have to get those giant antlers.   I have no books on hunting either.   Sorry I can't make recommendations on reading material. 






Offline yakimanoob

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Re: Which deer to take in an underpopulated GMU?
« Reply #8 on: March 06, 2017, 10:49:51 AM »
I might see an article while sitting in the Dr. office and that's about it.  The rags always focus on giant antlers and what latest trinket you must have to get those giant antlers.   I have no books on hunting either.   Sorry I can't make recommendations on reading material.

At the risk of taking my own thread off topic: this is a big problem in the hunting world, right?  I can find a dozen reviews on any given bolt gun, but decent information on animal behavior patterns, population dynamics, and other concepts that would make us all better hunters is nearly impossible to find.

Not that the problem is unique to hunting... 

Offline Rainier10

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Re: Which deer to take in an underpopulated GMU?
« Reply #9 on: March 06, 2017, 10:51:35 AM »
My opinion is to shoot the older buck.  The younger bucks will breed just as many does and have more years ahead of them as far as breeding.  If you give the younger bucks a pass it gives them another year to get wiser.  Just my  :twocents:

The younger bucks wouldn't travel as much and more likely to inbreed locally, they wouldn't really have a rut pattern established they'd follow like an older buck would. 

The mature buck would travel their well established rut travel/search patterns, sometimes travelling quite a ways and would cover more does.  The older buck would be more efficient as well.
That is another way to look at it for sure.  I was going back and forth on this one.

I just reread the question and it raises even more questions for me because he says he has the choice to shoot a  young 3 point or a mature 4x4.

I was thinking your odds of finding and shooting a mature buck are way lower than shooting an immature buck.  If you have lower odds of shooting the mature that in itself leaves the potential for more bucks to be around breeding.

Immature bucks are easier to find and kill so your odds of success are higher thus taking out more potential breeders.

After rereading it, if there were two bucks standing side by side, one mature and one immature, I am not sure what I would do.  I think you could make a case for either option.

I am not sure there is a "right" answer to this one.  I am interested to hear what everyone's point of view is.
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Offline KFhunter

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Re: Which deer to take in an underpopulated GMU?
« Reply #10 on: March 06, 2017, 10:57:37 AM »
Quote
After rereading it, if there were two bucks standing side by side, one mature and one immature, I am not sure what I would do.  I think you could make a case for either option.

Assuming they're both legal take your pick.  The younger would taste better but you'd get less meat.  Fortunately we don't have to worry about shooting the mature buck because there are other mature bucks who will fill the void and until that void is filled a younger buck would sneak in and breed in a pinch.

I just don't think we need to worry about which buck to shoot other than the quantity vs quality personal choice.  If it were so under populated that does weren't getting covered then it needs to be restricted more and predators removed.

Offline DaveMonti

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Re: Which deer to take in an underpopulated GMU?
« Reply #11 on: March 06, 2017, 11:11:00 AM »
It really doesn't matter which buck you take.  Breeding success is rarely, if ever, negatively impacted by a limited number of bucks.  If you kill both, there will still be plenty of other bucks in the area that will breed the available does.  Even spikes will travel miles and miles to find a hot doe. 

Offline jackelope

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Re: Which deer to take in an underpopulated GMU?
« Reply #12 on: March 06, 2017, 11:14:12 AM »
There is no genetic difference between old bucks and young bucks. They either have it or they don't. I've killed enough deer in my life(really not that many compared to most here I'm guessing) that I'm not interested in shooting young bucks anymore. I just don't need to. I'm going to throw out that the old, mature bucks may or may not have worse odds of dying over winter, etc. If we're talking migration routes, mule deer seem to use the same routes and follow the does, right?
That video out of Wyoming depicting their mule deer migration seems to show they all follow roughly the same path, and the younger bucks move first, right?
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Offline KFhunter

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Re: Which deer to take in an underpopulated GMU?
« Reply #13 on: March 06, 2017, 11:16:24 AM »
It really doesn't matter which buck you take.  Breeding success is rarely, if ever, negatively impacted by a limited number of bucks.  If you kill both, there will still be plenty of other bucks in the area that will breed the available does.  Even spikes will travel miles and miles to find a hot doe.

I agree, buck to doe ratio is way down on the list of things suppressing deer populations if at all.  I wouldn't worry about this.   


To the OP; if you want to make a positive impact then hunt predators.  If you seek personal justification for taking a large mature buck then make a pledge to yourself that if you take out a couple of coyotes, or any single large carnivore you've more than earned that large buck. 



Offline KFhunter

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Re: Which deer to take in an underpopulated GMU?
« Reply #14 on: March 06, 2017, 11:21:00 AM »
There is no genetic difference between old bucks and young bucks. They either have it or they don't. I've killed enough deer in my life(really not that many compared to most here I'm guessing) that I'm not interested in shooting young bucks anymore. I just don't need to. I'm going to throw out that the old, mature bucks may or may not have worse odds of dying over winter, etc. If we're talking migration routes, mule deer seem to use the same routes and follow the does, right?
That video out of Wyoming depicting their mule deer migration seems to show they all follow roughly the same path, and the younger bucks move first, right?

The only thing I'd clarify (not disagreeing with you)  is that "bad genetics" wouldn't tend to make it to full maturity as often as "good genetics" would.  If a buck is an old warrior he's probably got good genetics.


I tend to shoot young bucks, I have enough trouble getting my wife and kids to eat that.  A smelly old rutted bruiser?   ....forget it.   When I was a kid if I brought home a buck with more than 3pt's I'd get chewed out.  "what you bring that nasty old thing home for boy?" 

Offline BULLBLASTER

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Re: Which deer to take in an underpopulated GMU?
« Reply #15 on: March 06, 2017, 11:27:11 AM »
There is no genetic difference between old bucks and young bucks. They either have it or they don't. I've killed enough deer in my life(really not that many compared to most here I'm guessing) that I'm not interested in shooting young bucks anymore. I just don't need to. I'm going to throw out that the old, mature bucks may or may not have worse odds of dying over winter, etc. If we're talking migration routes, mule deer seem to use the same routes and follow the does, right?
That video out of Wyoming depicting their mule deer migration seems to show they all follow roughly the same path, and the younger bucks move first, right?

The only thing I'd clarify (not disagreeing with you)  is that "bad genetics" wouldn't tend to make it to full maturity as often as "good genetics" would.  If a buck is an old warrior he's probably got good genetics.


I tend to shoot young bucks, I have enough trouble getting my wife and kids to eat that.  A smelly old rutted bruiser?   ....forget it.   When I was a kid if I brought home a buck with more than 3pt's I'd get chewed out.  "what you bring that nasty old thing home for boy?" 
:yeah:
It's also important to rememeber that there are more to "good" genetics than big antlers, but that seems to be lost in the magazine and tv management world.

Offline eburgtrapper

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Re: Which deer to take in an underpopulated GMU?
« Reply #16 on: March 06, 2017, 11:27:19 AM »
I think about this as if they are cattle. If you have two Bulls, one is three and has let's say 7 years of breeding left, and you have an 8 year old with two years of breeding left, (excluding taste/meat quality) If you remove the older bull you still have 7 years of breeding from the younger animal.

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Re: Which deer to take in an underpopulated GMU?
« Reply #17 on: March 06, 2017, 11:31:24 AM »
I think about this as if they are cattle. If you have two Bulls, one is three and has let's say 7 years of breeding left, and you have an 8 year old with two years of breeding left, (excluding taste/meat quality) If you remove the older bull you still have 7 years of breeding from the younger animal.

For every 40 cows put out 10 bulls (both young and old) and see what happens then.  Who's doing the breeding and who's doing the fighting?  and who's hiding in the corner trying not to get his butt kicked



Offline Gringo31

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Re: Which deer to take in an underpopulated GMU?
« Reply #18 on: March 06, 2017, 12:07:19 PM »
It's an interesting question.....


I'll add my  :twocents: in this way.  I don't believe one hunter has the ability to make much of an impact (limited to the two decisions you listed).  If you spend time and really watch deer, you may see that mature buck keep the smaller ones away and should he die, the smaller bucks won't miss a beat.

That being said, you can see a mature buck in a particular area today, gone tomorrow with the same does hanging around.  All in all, it matters little (when it comes to your choice and the impact of the herd).

As others have said, predator removal can make a real impact.  I'll also throw out there that IMO WDFW doesn't believe deer and elk can live in the same places.  Your area is seen by them as an "elk area" and they have made management decisions to have an intentional low deer population.
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Offline jackelope

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Re: Which deer to take in an underpopulated GMU?
« Reply #19 on: March 06, 2017, 12:09:33 PM »
I think about this as if they are cattle. If you have two Bulls, one is three and has let's say 7 years of breeding left, and you have an 8 year old with two years of breeding left, (excluding taste/meat quality) If you remove the older bull you still have 7 years of breeding from the younger animal.

For every 40 cows put out 10 bulls (both young and old) and see what happens then.  Who's doing the breeding and who's doing the fighting?  and who's hiding in the corner trying not to get his butt kicked




They will be breeding and no longer hiding in the corner when the mature buck dies.
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Offline eburgtrapper

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Re: Which deer to take in an underpopulated GMU?
« Reply #20 on: March 06, 2017, 12:11:10 PM »
I think about this as if they are cattle. If you have two Bulls, one is three and has let's say 7 years of breeding left, and you have an 8 year old with two years of breeding left, (excluding taste/meat quality) If you remove the older bull you still have 7 years of breeding from the younger animal.

For every 40 cows put out 10 bulls (both young and old) and see what happens then.  Who's doing the breeding and who's doing the fighting?  and who's hiding in the corner trying not to get his butt kicked


Or let's say 2 bulls and 8 cows. That way it's a controlled size. Who knows what's going to happen with ten Bulls. Maybe the old Bulls win the fights and breed but then they are wore out and can't rebound and get killed by predators. All I'm saying is side by side it's better to take the older bull with the hopes of more years of possible breeding out of the younger one. I know there is a lot of different things to add to the equation like others have said male to female ratios, predators, winter....

Offline KFhunter

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Re: Which deer to take in an underpopulated GMU?
« Reply #21 on: March 06, 2017, 12:16:48 PM »
I'm just not sure there's a lot to be gleaned from a controlled herd of cattle to deer in the wild.  I know my young bull is pretty proud of himself even though he had to jump to breed the older cows  :chuckle:

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Re: Which deer to take in an underpopulated GMU?
« Reply #22 on: March 06, 2017, 12:39:05 PM »
Too anecdotal to get any real answer.   Deer densities, buck to doe ratios are all askew where you are mentioning.   Throw in unlimited tribal harvest, etc.  just be amazed to find two branch Antler bucks in the first place. This is an area wher spikes are breeding.

  One could say an older buck would have a better chance of surviving the gauntlet than a younger one, thus might actually make it to breeding season.
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Offline yakimanoob

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Re: Which deer to take in an underpopulated GMU?
« Reply #23 on: March 06, 2017, 01:10:50 PM »
Thanks for all the replies, everybody.  Sounds like I just need to spend my time working on the coyotes and not worry so much about which buck I take. 

And I'll say for clarity that if I ever ACTUALLY saw both in the same place at the same time, I'd be too surprised to even think about it and would probably fire on the one that presented the first clean shot.  This is a fun thought experiment though :)

Offline buckcanyonlodge

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Re: Which deer to take in an underpopulated GMU?
« Reply #24 on: March 06, 2017, 01:35:17 PM »
Let both of them walk..Go hunt an area where deer aren't so underpopulated. Both bucks breeding will bring the population back sooner.
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Re: Which deer to take in an underpopulated GMU?
« Reply #25 on: March 06, 2017, 01:38:44 PM »
Exactly which GMU's are at population objectives in the first place would be interesting.

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Re: Which deer to take in an underpopulated GMU?
« Reply #26 on: March 06, 2017, 02:12:18 PM »
With a companion card in your pocket, shoot both.   :chuckle: :dunno:

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Re: Which deer to take in an underpopulated GMU?
« Reply #27 on: March 06, 2017, 02:38:27 PM »
Shoot the mature buck.  People pretty much summed everything up already. 

Google Valerius Geist.  He has some very good books on most all the ungulate species. It can be a little heavy reading but it is very interesting.

Also pm doublelung.  He's kind of a smart guy on this stuff.
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Re: Which deer to take in an underpopulated GMU?
« Reply #28 on: March 06, 2017, 04:22:55 PM »
Let both of them walk..Go hunt an area where deer aren't so underpopulated. Both bucks breeding will bring the population back sooner.
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Offline yakimanoob

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Re: Which deer to take in an underpopulated GMU?
« Reply #29 on: March 06, 2017, 04:23:18 PM »
Shoot the mature buck.  People pretty much summed everything up already. 

Google Valerius Geist.  He has some very good books on most all the ungulate species. It can be a little heavy reading but it is very interesting.

Also pm doublelung.  He's kind of a smart guy on this stuff.

Thanks for the suggested reading!

Offline KFhunter

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Re: Which deer to take in an underpopulated GMU?
« Reply #30 on: March 06, 2017, 04:37:11 PM »
We've been discussion 4pt mature bucks in their prime,  regressive bucks would be your best bet if you're concerned about taking bucks based on breeding.

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Re: Which deer to take in an underpopulated GMU?
« Reply #31 on: March 06, 2017, 05:17:52 PM »
In the real world, it doesn't matter which buck you take. There is still gonna be one less buck in the world. And there is no guarantee either one of them will survive another year no matter which one you take. They could end up shot by another hunter, taken by a predator, starve in a hard winter, get run over by a car, succumb to injuries from fighting during the rut, etc etc. Wild animals don't usually die of old age. 

And depending on why deer numbers are down in that GMU, whatever good you think you're doing may not matter.  If the habitat is degraded, the does will have less twins. If the area is full of coyotes and other predators, the fawns may not survive.  A bad winter or a series of bad winters might do in most fawns that make it to the fall. There are a lot of factors controlling herd populations.  If you think that taking any deer out of the population is going to be the deciding factor of population growth, then I'd agree with the post earlier that suggested you leave those deer alone and go to a more populated GMU that can handle the hunting pressure.
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Re: Which deer to take in an underpopulated GMU?
« Reply #32 on: March 06, 2017, 05:28:02 PM »
That's a tough one cause in that unit they are probably both dead anyway, so if hunting another area isn't an option then take the mature buck!
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Re: Which deer to take in an underpopulated GMU?
« Reply #33 on: March 06, 2017, 06:03:46 PM »
That's a tough one cause in that unit they are probably both dead anyway, so if hunting another area isn't an option then take the mature buck!
:yeah: and they are both 2.5 because nothing survives past that  :chuckle:  :'(
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Re: Which deer to take in an underpopulated GMU?
« Reply #34 on: March 06, 2017, 06:04:42 PM »
Not a hunting book, but if you want to understand mule deer, then try Joe Hutto's Touching the Wild: Living with the Mule Deer of Deadman Gulch.  Hunting book:  Jack O'Connor's The Art of Hunting Big Game in North America.  It has been a long time since I read O'Connor, but he has several books that include hunting mule deer.

 

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