If I could tell the difference, I would not shoot a button buck. Sometimes, you are not able to tell anything other than the fact that it is an antlerless deer. If there was not a rush, I would take my time and make sure that it was not a B buck. nd, if I did shoot one, I would feel bad about it. Obviously it's legal, so it doesn't matter in that sense, but most of the antlerless hunts are done to get a breeder doe out of the pool, thus controlling population. However, if you shoot a B buck, you are not really accomplishing the objective.
Of course, once they are on the dinner plate, I really can't tell the difference...
Sounds like we're on the same page on this one. Here in Kansas we have a late anterless season and people are concerned that not only button bucks will be killed but also mature bucks that have shed their antlers.
We take several precautions to guard against shooting button bucks, however, it still is a tough proposition to accomplish without shooting a button buck once in a while.
We set a time to begin and stop hunting, usually not before sunrise in the morning and not after sunset in the evening. That way, we minimize the chances of shooting a button buck in the dim light of the 30 minutes before sunrise or after sunset.
The best way to avoid making a mistake is to exhibit patience and good judgement. First, down shoot the first deer that shows itself. Uasually, we find that if an antlerless deer appears by itself, this late in the season, then it is most likely a button buck. The does have gathered in groups again by now.
Second, of course, most people will try to shoot the biggest doe in the group if possible. That isn't always possible, so when judging the other deer, try to pick out any button bucks first. One characteristic that sets them apart are their blocky head and body. Both their head and body will look more square, short, and blocky compared to a slender doe of similar size.
As i have read the responses and pondered this subject some more, it occurred to me that taking your time as you suggested is important to ensure that you don't kill a button buck. Why is it important to take out the doe and not the buck? I think this is just one way to make sure that the proper doe to buck ratio is maintained. Too many does not only limit your opportunity to take a nice buck, but it also affects the rut. Too many does equals lack of a real rut.
I do everything I can to not shoot a button buck. In the areas I normally hunt perhaps 90% of the time, if you see a doe, there's at least one more with it. It's pretty unusual to see a lone doe walking around. I prefer to take my does from a group, looking for the largest bodied deer, figuring it to be a mature doe. I've seen some club rules that prohibit the taking of a doe that's alone, figuring the chances of it being a button buck are too great to risk. About 5 yrs ago I was hunting the very last weekend of our Tennessee season. I spotted a 4 pnt and after thinking for a minute, I gave him a last day pass figuring he'd grow some for the next season and hoped to see a doe instead. I did see a doe about an hour later and whacked her.
I was more than a little disappointed when I went to recover her and she turned out to be a button buck. Bad plan by me. Now, as I said before, I only shoot one of a group, giving myself time to compare body size, etc. Back in '08 a good friend of mine was hunting for his Kentucky doe after already tagging a beautiful 150 class buck a week earlier on opening day. A huge doe came by his stand and we were both surprised when we went to recover it and saw that BOTH antlers had been broken off at the skull. It was a 2.5 or 3.5 yr old buck, down on his luck, bigtime. Perfectly legal but a bad choice for his doe, unfortunately.
Out here in Colorado, and in the units that I haunt, it is a tricky game to figure out how far to pack in on a rifle hunt. You want to get away from the masses that have moved game away from the roads but might want to stay close enough that you are taking advantage of the animals forced movements. There is no universal distance but I like the 1.5 to 4 mile range for day hunts where I am not planning on bivying out. This keeps you in that productive buffer zone where the animals are really...