Nov 26, 2013 | Deer Hunting | 0 Comments
The life of a white-tailed deer is highly impacted by the weather. Hunters know that high rainfall years are better than dry ones when it comes to antler growth and the number of fawns produced. Mild weather during the spring and fall is also conducive for plant growth, which in turn is good for deer growth. Everything struggles when it gets really hot or really cold. However, if you’re looking to harvest a deer this season then colder temperatures are exactly what you need. And that’s because whitetail deer move around a heck of a lot more when temperatures drop.
I know what you’re thinking. The rut, right? Cooler temperatures must mean that bucks will be chasing does with reckless abandon. Well, that could be one exciting scenario, but I’m targeting the fact that when the temperatures outside get really, really cold, deer get extremely hungry. This means that they have got to eat something, and soon. It takes a lot of energy to maintain a 104 degree (F) internal body temperature when the mercury starts to plummet. Deer will be looking for fuel, but will you be there? Read the rest
Oct 31, 2013 | Non-typical Stuff | 0 Comments
There are many factors to consider when it comes to management of white-tailed bucks during the deer hunting season. Some of the more popular campfire discussions usually involve talking about antlers, which bucks to shoot or not shoot, and whether or not odd antler configurations on specific deer were caused by poor genetics or by an injury during antler development. Whether you are actively managing the white-tailed deer living on your own property or considering culling some select deer off your hunting lease, it pays to know a little bit about deer antlers and their growth before you pull the trigger.
For whatever reason, this year I have seen more bucks with asymmetrical antlers than ever before. Most of these deer have been bucks with a normal antler on one side and then an unbranched antler (spike) on the other. And I’m not just talking about 1 1/2 year old (yearling) bucks. Of course, some yearling bucks will have unbranched antlers (one side or both), but only very rarely do spike bucks actually remain spikes after their first set of antlers. The bucks I’m talking about are middle-aged deer; 3 and 4 year old bucks with lots of promise on one side and nothing but disappointment on the other. Read the rest
Oct 23, 2013 | Deer Management | 0 Comments
White-tailed deer hunting seasons are already going full bore in many states with good bucks already on the ground, but hunting is just beginning to heat up down at southern latitudes. Two things come to mind with the early part of the season upon us: rattling for buck hunting and selective harvest for the purpose of deer management. Both can take place on properties looking to ultimately improve antler quality in bucks, and these two tasks are not necessarily exclusive of one another. Managing a deer herd not only means shooting deer, but removing the right deer and at the right time.
The removal of unwanted bucks prior to the breeding season ensures that those animals do not participate; they no longer have the opportunity to pass on their genes. Earlier is always better when it comes to removing cull bucks. These management bucks, as many hunters so eloquently refer to them, often consist of middle-aged deer that show less promise than the remainder of their cohort (age class). Rattling while in the field prior to the rut ensures an active and hopefully exciting hunt, but also allows landowners and hunters the chance to fulfill management objectives. Read the rest
Oct 10, 2013 | Deer Hunting | 0 Comments
Many bow-carrying deer hunters have already headed to the field, but it’s darn tough out there right now for those than plan on whitetail hunting around a feeder. Much like the rain, food plots seem to be hit or miss depending on which part of Texas your located. Those that have been in the woods lately have no doubt discovered that the acorns have fallen. Last check of the game cameras have demonstrated that deer visitation at the feeders has slowed way, way down. But I’m not worried. They are there. Somewhere.
All in all, things are looking really good for Texas deer hunters this year. I’ve corresponded with quite a few property owners within the past couple of months and the overwhelming majority of them say things are looking pretty darn good. Habitat is decent for the time of year, antler quality is there and good numbers of fawns mean good deer hunting seasons to come. State wildlife officials are echoing what landowners have been saying for some time. This season is going to be a good one. Read the rest
Sep 17, 2013 | Deer Management | 0 Comments
The idea that the genetic composition of a deer herd can be improved through selective harvest is not a new one to white-tailed deer management, but it is a tough goal to achieve. This is especially true when dealing with free-ranging deer herds on small to mid-sized properties, which covers most of the land found within the whitetail’s range. Selective deer harvest, or “culling” if you’re talking deer out on the ranch, is not always an option for every hunter on every property. This management practice, however, should not be overlooked by land owners and hunters looking to improve the quality of deer herd found on their property.
The idea of culling deer is to remove bucks with inferior genes for antler growth and leave the genetically better bucks to do the breeding, thereby passing on those better genes to their offspring. It’s a simple concept and it works. Cattlemen figured this out a long time ago; put a really good bull in the pasture and you’ll have better calves. The thing that makes it difficult to implement with deer is that there are often many, many bulls. Read the rest
Sep 16, 2013 | Non-typical Stuff | 0 Comments
There is a gradient of acceptance when it comes to white-tailed deer hunting and the commercial deer breeding business. In many states across the US — where maintaining penned deer is legal — the whitetail hunting tradition has hybridized with deer farming to deliver a product that some hunters seem willing to buy. But it’s not for everyone. Literally on the other side of fence are hunters that do not want to accept farm-raised “wildlife.” They just do not agree with the raising or hunting of pen-raised deer.
I can see both sides. For one, the laws are law. It is completely legal to hold, breed and sell deer. In Texas alone there are approximately 1,200 permitted facilities that can help provide ranches with bucks, does and fawns that have the genetics to produce gargantuan antlers. But is deer hunting all about shooting bucks with big antlers? Traditional hunters say no, hell no. They will tell you that hunting is less about the kill and more about the experience, more about spending time with family and friends while hunting free-ranging deer. Read the rest
Aug 30, 2013 | Deer Hunting | 0 Comments
It was a perfect morning for deer hunting. It was late October, 53 degrees and a 5-7 mile per hour wind was blowing out of the northeast. Directly in front of me, standing at 10 yards, was a 10 point buck that I recognized from game camera photos. The deer was walking quartering away and stopped right on cue. The arrow rocketed through him and hit the ground before he even flinched. I could immediately see blood. He lurched forward and hit high gear in only a few steps. A few seconds later I heard him crash. It was quiet again. Just to be safe, I waited 15 minutes before walking to the end of a 45 yard long blood trail that culminated with my bow buck.
I dragged the deer back to the truck, which was parked less than 60 yards away. You see, I was deer hunting a pint-sized property in Central Texas that consisted of a mere 7 acres. It was the second time that I had hunted the place in 6 years. Three years earlier had resulted in a mature, heavy-bodied 9 point whitetail buck. My latest deer, why far from a “book” buck, was the product of only one deer management practice. Harvest management, not shooting him years earlier when he was younger—just letting him go so he could grow. Deer hunting small properties can work, but you have to do it right. Read the rest
Aug 9, 2013 | Predator Management | 1 Comment
Predator control can be an integral part of a white-tailed deer management. Regulating predators should be a year-round activity on properties that are serious about the task, but it’s usually right about the time fawns start hitting the ground that hunters think about doing it. Limiting predators can work well when used hand-in-hand with other practices such as habitat management and supplemental feeding. Though there are many things looking to chow down on a deer, the “whitetail killer” that gets most of the attention is the cunning coyote.
They are smart. They do get a lot of attention from hunters, and for good reason. The coyote is the most abundant predator on the landscape with the ability to take whitetail, especially when they pack hunt. Case in point: Recall the article where a group of coyotes kill a whitetail buck on game camera? But as much attention as song dogs get, they aren’t the only game in town. Bobcats can also do a number on deer, especially when it comes to fawns. Read the rest