Are Deer Antlers Getting Smaller?

Discussion in 'Deer Hunting' started by writer811, Jun 21, 2012.

  1. writer811

    writer811 G&G Newbie

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    I come from a family of hunters and I live in a community of hunters. For the past few years I've been noticing something. We've been bringing home deer with smaller and smaller antlers. When I was a kid I used to watch my Dad and Uncle gut deer with huge antlers, the kind that I'd love to get at least once in my lifetime. I haven't even seen a pair like that in years. My best guess is that are now just too many hunters for more than one man (Or woman) in ten to bring home a rack like that. What do you think?
  2. cooker300

    cooker300 G&G Enthusiast

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    personally i think it has a lot to due with food. and the other thing is that people shoot the little bucks so they never grow up to get bigger antlers.

    PA has a antler restriction depending on where you hunt at it has to either be 3 point or 4 points on one side . in attempts to let the bucks get bigger and to pass alone there genes.
  3. rando

    rando G&G Enthusiast Forum Contributor

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    Like Cooker says, alot of it is hunting pressure and deer are being killed before they mature to several years old. Also the gene,s and food diet. Many deer dont have the big food supplies from farmers where I live and browse on almost anything they can reach.
  4. TheLastMountain

    TheLastMountain G&G Enthusiast

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    I think you need to stop shooting deer with big racks and start shooting deer with small racks and get them out of the gene pool. Let the record rack makers breed and get the deer population stronger. Remember, racks don't feed your belly. :)
  5. trigger

    trigger G&G Enthusiast

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    I can't say the same for here. Big bucks are 1 of the few good things we have here in Illinois. We do have the perfect habitat for deer. Corn Corn Corn and tree-lined fence rows. I do believe the above statements to be true. Gene-pool,Harvest standards,food/minerals. It's easy to take a small buck or doe. But theres a reason the big boys get big. SMART. It takes a lot of time and effort to bag a trophy. And to some, The hard work and time involved make it worth while. A couple small does early in the season for meat. Then the hunt for mac-daddy. Good luck and safe hunting for all. The season is nearing
  6. chesterwin

    chesterwin Super Moderator

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    Cull the does so the prominate bucks do most of the breeding.
  7. mouser868

    mouser868 G&G Enthusiast

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    I've been shooting the smaller deer and does for years, finally last year I got a real dandy 10 point
  8. cooker300

    cooker300 G&G Enthusiast

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    last mountian antles dont fill the belly. but you need to let the little ones grow up and get there genes back in the pool. because there the offspring of those giants.

    i went 22 years with out shooting a buck killed alot of does, were i hunt in PA we have a 3 point on one side antler rule and im not against shooting a 3 point but with getting does tags every year id rather pass on a 3 point and shoot 2 does so the little bucks grow up and become a nice 8 or better
  9. 338RUM

    338RUM G&G Enthusiast

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    I have been hunting since i was 12 and i have killed exactly 2 bucks. Both were spikes the first the horns were not above the hair line and i thought it was a doe, the second had spikes about 7 or 8 inches long and he was a few years old and would have never been more than a spike so I took him. I mostly shoot does because I am a meat hunter not a trophy hunter.

    But I do admit if I go hunting with Cooker 300 this year I will be shooting a buck if I see one... The pics he sent me of some of the deer killed on the farm are nuts!
  10. TheLastMountain

    TheLastMountain G&G Enthusiast

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    True, but there are smaller bucks out there from in breeding or lack of nutrition or disease, or all the big bucks are gone and just smaller bucks left to do the breeding. Whatever the reason, these deer need to be taken out of the gene pool. All the locations I have ever hunted on, we take the weeker ones first. Within 5 years you really see the difference. Makes the blood lines stronger and have had record size bucks. I still prefer the younger ones. Yes less meat, but better tasting. It just like managing a cattle ranch, just with wild critters. JMO
    Last edited: Jun 22, 2012
  11. Reinhardt

    Reinhardt G&G Newbie

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    There are plenty of big bucks out there. They are big for a reason, they are smart and not easy to get. There have been more record deer killed in recent years than in past years. In general people have become lazyier hunters, relying on equipment rather than skill, ultra mags and tactical scopes that allow a person to shoot animals at 500+ yards doesnt make a hunter, it makes a lazy hunter that doesnt have the fundamentals to actualy hunt and posses the nessasary skills like you had to have in the days when people relied on little ole 30-06's and 30-30's with open sites.
  12. writer811

    writer811 G&G Newbie

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    Alright, thanks everyone. I think I'll switch to hunting does for awhile. I don't need trophies, but I do love deer meat.
  13. Rugerredbone

    Rugerredbone G&G Newbie

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    Your exactly right, its impossible to get an opportunity at a mature buck if your truck is parked under your elevated recliner you call a treestand. Do a little work, walk a little farther and sit a little longer eventually he'll come by. And maybe he'll give you a shot at him. Even in big buck country it ain't as easy as they'd have you believe on the television.
  14. cooker300

    cooker300 G&G Enthusiast

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    "But I do admit if I go hunting with Cooker 300 this year I will be shooting a buck if I see one... The pics he sent me of some of the deer killed on the farm are nuts"

    josh the pic i sent you were all killed on public land PA state game lands that are surrounded by farms its all about the right place at the right split second
  15. Sav .250

    Sav .250 G&G Enthusiast

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    A ton of pressure plus other things. Included in that lots of folks shoot anything that moves, as in.....if it`s brown,it`s down. J s/n.
  16. deadzero

    deadzero G&G Enthusiast Forum Contributor

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    absolutely correct.

    I ran into this years ago on a property in Virginia, big bucks with only spike antlers. I talked to a state DNR biologist about it. he knew exactly where we were hunting and said the bucks were overpopulated in that area. He said thin out the spikes and take a good doe harvest and things will inprove in a few years. he was right, 5 years later I took the first 10 point out of there. when we lost that property 12 years later, 5 out of 7 hunters on that property took trophys of 8 point or larger that last year.
  17. Cyrano

    Cyrano Resident Curmudgeon Forum Contributor

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    I agree with trigger about the importance of habitat.

    There is also the matter of population pressure. In the county I live in, the habitat is perfect for deer, who are border animals who live on the edges of forests, preferably with meadows with good browse ... which is exactly what you get when human build housing developments in the 'burbs and the country. We have enough Bambi-lovers that there are serious restrictions on where you can hunt and what you can use (no rifles, for instance). There is also the restriction that you can't hunt within 1500 feet of a dwelling, which means the deer have loads of safe zones. Where am I going with this?

    The deer can breed like rabbits or tribbles. We have a deer population that is 10 times the size the habitat can support with healthy animals. This results in smaller deer. Lots of smaller deer. It's this bad: a mature 3 or 4 year old buck hereabouts will be the same size as a yearling buck from rural western New York. The critters are perpetually on the verge of starvation; they can gain 30 or 40 pounds in one month when the acorns fall, it's that bad in terms of deer food.

    The Bambi-lovers simply cannot wrap their heads around the simple fact that there are TOO MANY DEER. To rectify the problem, we would have to have an extended open season, with no bag limit, for probably two years in a row.

    We'd need to suspend the rules on hunting over feeders, on hunting over mineral licks, and persuade the power companies to allow hunting along the high tension transmission lines; I've been told that the deer use them a safe passage routes because they know they can't be hunted there.

    The biggest buck I've heard of being taken in the area was taken in the next county south near a celebrity's country estate where a bowhunter waited on public land adjacent to the power lines. He'd learned the buck's habits and knew that to get to the meadow where he ate in the state park, the trophy buck had to leave the safe zone of the high tension wires. The bowman was waiting in a hide when he did. According to the Dept. of Enviromental Conservation scientists who request hunters to turn in a deer tooth and information about where and how they took their deer so they can study the herds, this buck was 8 years old. He was smart and cautious, and he'd been using the easements as roads between food areas all that time, ranging about fifty miles north and south but (according to sightings) rarely getting farther than 300 yards from the power lines because he knew he was safe there.

    We are not going see trophy bucks or even healthy-weight deer in my county until the good-hearted but misguided and willfully ignorant wildlife lovers accept the fact the herd is breeding out of control and has to be drastically culled, and kept at a healthy size the ecosystem can support.
  18. PAPA G

    PAPA G G&G Enthusiast Forum Contributor

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    what state do you hunt in???
  19. DudeInMT

    DudeInMT G&G Newbie

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    People complain about the same thing, but with elk, in Montana. One of the solutions they are trying is a a special area with a very strict antler size limit, and it's on the upper end. This ensures that the only elk taken in that area are mature, and have had enough time to grow a decent rack. From what I've heard it's very successful so far, and there are tons of hunters who put in for tags in that area every year (also a limited number of people get tags for the area), because there are tons of elk, with large antlers.

    Seems simple enough, if you don't let the animals mature long enough to develop a large rack before you shoot them, they never will.
  20. cabinnut

    cabinnut G&G Enthusiast

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    PA's restriction has been in effect ten years now and here in the mountains of NE PA it has made a huge difference. The once unheard-of ten point with mass is now quite common. Fewer overall deer population though.
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