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Tndeerhunter's picture
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Location: Tennessee
Joined: 04/13/2009
Posts: 1110
Shooting a cull buck

This season during the Kentucky gun season I caught sight of a buck chasing does from my stand. At first glance I thought he might be a shooter so I got prepared. As he chased the does closer and then stopped close to my tree stand I could see that he didn't have as much antler as I'd originally thought and actually had a deformed rack atop his big, mature body. 

I lowered my rifle and then began thinking as he slowly moved away. There was a buck with obvious bad genetics chasing does right under my nose. A big mature buck breeding and not really what we'd want to see rack-wise on future generations. What should I do? Only have one buck tag in Kentucky; should I use it on this undesirable?

Well, I hemmed and I hawed for a good two minutes as he slowly moved away, unaware of my presence. Well, I finally made my decision, raised my Marlin .375 and used my lone buck tag on this guy. He turned out to be a nice mature buck of at least 3.5 and perhaps even 4.5 yrs old. Look closely at the close-up we had of him on our trail camera. He has a big thick neck, a rounded belly and drooping lower neck, all sure signs he had some age on him.

That ended my Kentucky buck hunting for the year, but did supply a good bit of venison. I'd estimate him at right around 200 lbs on the hoof and even the butcher commented on how big a body he had. I'm still not totally happy with what happened as this area hold some super deer. My Buddy killed a 150" here two years ago and I shot a big doe last year that went 148 lbs dressed. That's the potential we have in this private area.

Any thoughts? Would you have done the same thing? It still makes me wince knowing that I spent that much for my out of state license and lost out on another week of gun hunting looking for the good size deer we typically take there.

Well?? Confused  Whatcha think?

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Ca_Vermonster's picture
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Location: San Diego, CA
Joined: 07/27/2007
Posts: 5743
I am probably the wrong one

I am probably the wrong one to ask, since I amnot a fan of trophy hunting, antler restrictions, or supposed "quality deer management".  But, if I saw that deer in the woods, there would have been absolutely no hesitation.  That would be a dead deer, venison in my freezer.

If you are hunting in an area where you are trying to practice your own AR's or QDM, then I can understand your dilemma.  But, you have to look at yourself and ask, why are you truly out there?  At the end of the season, if your freezer is empty, will you be happy because you at least held out for a bigger one and didn't waste a tag?  That's the funny thing about deer, you could pass one up, but there is no guarantee you will ever see another. They are funny like that.

That's a great deer, and I am sure it's great on your dinner plate.  No regrets!!!  Congrats!

chrisp's picture
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Location: Central Florida
Joined: 02/07/2010
Posts: 282
What we think should'nt

What we think should'nt matter TnDeerHunter,just as long as your OK with it...Dont see where you would have done wrong either way you would have went...I to was think'n i was gonna wait it out an get a wall hanger up in Ga(2 buck tags there),but them 2 dadburn basket rack'd eight's had to present themselve's.I could'nt help it,the adrinaline was there...But just my way of think'n,i personally dont go for that genetic jive...sure they mite have a fawn or two that mite be mess'd up like him but i dont think ALL would be.And sum of them mess'd up buck's give'n a few year's turn out sum dang good look'n non-typical's...I mean i no of a few couple's(people) that had one child with something wrong with it and another normal,one be'n my X sister an brother inlaw(he's still in the herd)....As long as your Happy,i'm Happy....Congrat's!

ecubackpacker's picture
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Joined: 09/11/2009
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You bring up a good point

You bring up a good point when it comes to managing deer for trophy bucks. You have one tag to shoot a trophy or cull buck. Do you hold out for a trophy and possible not shoot a buck or do you shoot a cull buck and your season is done? Uummmm...That's a tough question to answer.

A lot of factors play into whether to take the shot besides the deer's appearence. How many acres do you manage? How many other hunters are in the club? Are they willing to do the same thing you did? Do the surrounding land owners manage their deer for trophy bucks or do they shoot any buck that walks?  How many deer do you need to feed the family for the year and will not taking a deer in Ky matter when it comes to filling the freezer? These are all factors in the decision making process for managing the deer herd.

I, for one, like to take cull bucks out the breeding population. I get great satisfaction when I'm able to take mature, but inferior buck out of the herd. The advantage I have is I can shoot up to 4 bucks a year and an unlimited amount of does. Now, I don't usually shoot 4 bucks a year but I can if I see that many cull bucks to shoot. Normally, I'll shoot 1 cull buck and 1 buck to mount, if I have a good year. The rest will be does.

I guess I would answer by saying that I would shoot a cull buck in your situation if:

1) I had a lot of land that I was managing for trophy bucks, meaning at least 1000 acres/

2) The other club members would do the same to manage the herd. You don't want to be the only person doing the culling while other members shoot the big bucks.

3) The land owners surrounding my land were managing their deer herd in a similiar manner.

4) If you need the extra meat from the deer, then I would shoot it. If you can get plenty of does in Ky or Tn, then I may would pass. 

I would say you're probably ok with the outcome because you decided to pull the trigger. Congrats on the deer and doing what you need to do to manage the herd as he definitely needed to be culled. Thumbs up

Tndeerhunter's picture
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Location: Tennessee
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good points

Thanks for your reply. I hunt both Ky and Tn and the gun seasons do normally overlap. I live close enough so that I might hunt both states in the same day, easily. That being said, the bag limits for these two states couldn't be any different. I have the ability to shoot up to three deer a day in Tennessee and up to three bucks, total (no antler restrictions). I have recently lost my best hunting area in Tennessee and have only a few small private parcels to hunt.

In Kentucky, I am allowed 1 buck and 1 doe, with additional doe tags available for additional cost. The area I hunt in Kentucky is excellent! It's a 250 acre area containing a 100 acre+ swamp that is surrounded by agriculture of perhaps 800-1000 (or more) acres of soybeans and corn.

Only about 5 houses within 1 mile of our 250 acres. There are large farms as at least three of them. Their limit(s) are unknown to me (crop damage permits?) So, I can assure you that no QDM occurs except on our parcel and we simply do it voluntarily (only three of us can hunt deer there).

So, I think you can see clearly my hesitation at shooting. I am now totally convinced I did the right thing even knowing that I ended my best local chance at shooting a nice mature buck.  Huh?

groovy mike's picture
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nice buck

I would be happy to harvest that buck.  Then again I'm happy to harvest any deer.  In fact this weekend may be the first time I let a deer walk that I had a clear shot at and a tag to fill.

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