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.
Believe it or not, genes are not all that difficult to see in animals. Well, you can’t see the genes per se, but you can see how they are physically expressed. For example, it’s not all that difficult to find a good bull if you know what you’re looking for. The same can be said of a buck. Ranches can identify a good bull by age, so a deer manager should be able to identify a good buck by age. The difficult part is that all those deer are running loose on your property and you can’t get them sort themselves out by age and line up from most inferior to most superior while you’re out deer hunting.
If you are interested in learning more about using what’s on a buck’s head to manage the deer found on your property, then check out the webinar being offered later this week that features Dr. David Hewitt, Stuart Stedman Chair for White-tailed Deer Research at the Caesar Kleberg Wildlife Research Institute. There is no cost and you can watch from your home or office computer, just don’t let the boss catch you!
When: Thursday, September 19th, 2013, from noon to 1:00 pm CST
Topic: “Deer antlers as a Management Tool: The Role of Culling” Dr. Hewitt will be speaking on Deer antlers as a Management Tool: The Role of Culling. He will cover deer management objectives and the role of culling, reasons managers may wish to cull bucks, relationship between antler size at one age and antler size at a later age and the ability to change genetic potential for antler size in a free-ranging deer herd.
How to sign on: Simply point your browser at this WEBSITE on the day of the webinar and click to join the Wildlife for Lunch webinar. By the way, WebEx webinars are not supported on handheld devices such as iPads or iPhones. Each web based seminar is fully interactive and allows you to engage the experts, make comments, and ask questions during the course of the presentation.