The Key to Larger Bucks
late-born fawns whose antler development is retarded the first year but will eventually catch up with other bucks.
No doubt if we take 100 bucks and feed them the same rations until they reach 4.5 years of age, antler development will vary; much of that variance is probably caused by genetics. In Missouri, however, most bucks that reach 4.5 years of age will be trophies to most hunters. Given most hunter expectations, the best strategy is to pass up these seemingly inferior spike bucks during the hunting seasons. The result may be the production of large antlered deer several years down the road.
Assessing the success of a deer management program on a property is an important part of the effort. This assessment can be as simple as keeping track of the number of deer seen and taken each hunting season, to more scientific efforts, such as aerial censuses of deer. Most deer hunters/landowners will prefer the former, but some, whose primary use of a property is deer hunting, may choose a more careful evaluation of their deer management efforts.
Annual records of deer harvested, their sex, age, weight, antler beam diameter and date taken are useful. They provide information on herd structure and condition that can be used to gauge the success of a management effort.
Managing deer on the property you hunt can be fun, rewarding, and productive. In time, each manager will develop a deer management program that works for them, from non-selective harvest of deer to careful control of buck harvests.
The important point is to develop a good program that provides the kind of hunting you want, yet maintains deer numbers at levels satisfactory to you and your neighbors.
Lonnie Hansen and Jeff Beringer manage Missouri's deer population and are both avid deer hunters.
Keep a Wildlife Diary for Conservation
Conservation Department biologists annually recruit archery deer hunters to keep track of the wildlife they see while hunting deer. Participants are sent a diary form. For each hunting trip they record on the form the date, the amount of time hunted, the county and deer management unit they hunted in and the number of deer and other wildlife seen.
At the end of the season, the hunter sends the form to Conservation Department biologists, who tabulate the data and use the results to determine trends in the abundance of the various wildlife species monitored. The diary form is then returned to the hunter.
This is a great way to keep track of your hunting activities and the number of deer and other wildlife seen. If you are an archer and would like to participate, send your name and address to:
Bowhunter Wildlife Observation Record
Missouri Department of Conservation
Fish and Wildlife Research Center
1110 S. College Avenue, Columbia 65201