Growing big bucks is all about age, genetics, and nutrition, but when it comes to producing mature bucks year after year nothing in white-tailed deer management is as important as harvesting bucks at the proper rate. So what is the proper harvest rate for bucks? The general rule of thumb is to harvest no more than 20% of the buck herd throughout all age classes in a given year. This includes young, middle-aged, and old cull bucks as well as mature trophy bucks.
The white-tailed buck pictured above was shot on the evening of November 7, 2009 by bowhunter Joyce Ooten. She was hunting on her 23 acre Grayson County property when she arrowed the 19 point buck standing at 20 yards. Of course, the mature buck did not spend its entire life on Joyce’s 23 acres, but did I mention that her property is next door to the Hagerman National Wildlife Refuge (NWR)? And Hagerman NWR provides solid white-tailed deer habitat.
Hagerman NWR consists of about 12,000 acres, which is comprised of roughly 3,000 acres of marsh and 8,000 acres of upland and farmland. Not only does this place provide ideal habitat for growing big deer, but deer harvest is limited to bowhunting only. In fact, all of Grayson County is bowhunting only—even during Texas’ General Season. Good habitat combined with proper harvest rates means Hagerman NWR will produce mature bucks on an annual basis.
Source: “A Texoma grandmother says she bagged her biggest deer in Grayson County this weekend, and it may be one of the biggest ever killed in the area by a woman. Joyce Ooten, 60, used her bow to shoot this 19-point-buck over the weekend. Ooten shot the big game on her property, the Refuge Road Archery Range.
Ooten says she and her husband, Donnie, have had a friendly rivalry for some time over who will kill the bigger deer. Now, she says she’s ahead. “He’d been telling me if you’re going to get that deer, you had better get down there and hunt it. I like to hunt in the afternoon, not much on mornings, and he said you better go down there and get it or I’m going to get him. I beat him to it,” Ooten says.
Ooten says she will mount the deer on her wall. We’re still waiting to hear back from Texas Parks and Wildlife to see if this kill breaks any records.”