Deer Hunting: Cull Buck Harvest for Deer Management

Question: “I have a question regarding cull buck harvest for whitetail deer management. We are trying to improve our deer herd and are not sure about one of the bucks we have on a game camera. With the deer hunting season just around the corner we need another opinion. Would you shoot this whitetail buck as a cull or let him go at least another year?

My ideas on this deer are split right now. My question is, did his antler get hurt which is why his rack is off? Or is this genetically based and we should expect to see this buck with an oddball rack from here on out. We don’t have any other deer like him on our ranch. The buck does have a decent right side. We are a low fenced property in Cottle County, Texas.”

Answer: I think the question to answer with regards to your deer management outlook is, how does this buck compare to the rest of the bucks in his age group? Based on the deer surveys conducted on your property, what kind of buck age structure does your survey show? Do you need to be protecting this age class of bucks due to a small recruitment number for this age?

Deer Hunting: Culls Bucks for Deer Management

Or, if your survey data shows that this age level could use some reduction, then how does he compare to the other bucks? If he is better than most of the bucks in his age group on your property then maybe he should not be shot. If worse, then maybe he should be removed as a cull buck. Keep in mind that culling is only a piece of the puzzle to improve deer hunting and management.

In regulated deer hunting for deer management, always go back to the data. Many properties don’t collect adequate information to make informed decisions, and that will hurt them down the road. Your deer surveys data results in harvest recommendations that should dictate what age and how many bucks you need to shoot each and every season.

If the numbers say to reduce the number of bucks, then do so. Only then do you apply the buck culling criteria, which is to harvest the least desirable deer of that age class, leaving the best to breed and grow into impressive, mature bucks. Good luck this upcoming deer hunting season!

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