Yearling Bucks and Deer Management
The buck hobbled behind me at only 20 yards. Despite the wind blowing my scent directly towards him, he stayed on track following the doe. The problem was the doe has long since traveled past me. Roughly 30 minutes earlier. The little buck in tow had an injured right front leg, one spike antler, and was blind in one eye. I had seen the buck a few times and trail camera photos proved he was partially blind due to no reflection from the LED lights. I named him Gimpers.
These days it seems that everyone is out to kill “their” buck and is not satisfied if someone else gets him before they do. That’s not to say that hunters who are happy for another don’t exist. Also, deer management is at an all-time high. While I am an avid member of the Quality Deer Management Association (QDMA) the main goal is not to grow abnormally large bucks but to protect yearling bucks. By doing this you are positively influencing the age structure of your herd. However, a yearling buck being taken out of your herd will not send your deer management into a tail spin. In most cases, the absence of one or two yearling bucks will hardly be noticed.
Back to the story. My brother was only able to hunt a few times last year so we went together in November and sat along a hedgerow in a ground blind overlooking a picked cotton field planted in winter wheat. Across the field was a CRP field that provided bedding cover. This particular county allowed hunting from the ground. Soon he shot a doe and the trailing process began. We found her piled up not far from where we began. We then circled around to check out the winter wheat field. He spotted a doe and in the last few minutes of legal shooting light, took the shot. That doe, ended up being Gimpers.
Of course, I hated to see Gimpers bite the dust, but it was an honest mistake and one of the most fun hunts I had last year. I refuse to let a harvested yearling buck ruin a good hunting experience with family or friends.
This year, focus on what you can do to increase the hunting productivity of your land and take the necessary steps towards doing so, but don’t let the little things get in the way of a good hunt. Mishaps occur but understand that these things will happen and as long as they are in moderation there will be no lasting effects on your deer herd.
Take a kid hunting if at all possible and enjoy the outdoors with family and friends. That is the true purpose of hunting and enjoying God’s creation.