Deer Hunting: What is a Cull Buck?



One of the biggest ongoing disputes around almost any deer hunting camp is the answer — or lack thereof — to this question, “What is a cull buck?” Well, the answer will vary from property to property depending on the quality of whitetail bucks found there, but there are some general rules that apply. Many hunters will shoot spike bucks for cull bucks, but this is not recommended if you have a low number of bucks compared to the number of does. If your deer lease or land has plenty of bucks, then the harvest of spike bucks would be warranted.

Other bucks that qualify as cull bucks or management bucks are those deer with unfavorable antler characteristics. These could be bucks that lack 1 or both brow tines, bucks that are 7 points or less and 2.5 years old or older, or 3.5 and 4.5 year old bucks that have 8 points or less, without broken beams or tines. These 3.5+ year old 8 point deer are now commonly called “management bucks” because the theory is these are good bucks to remove for management of the deer herd. By removing all these cull bucks, it allows hunters and landowners to let the good young, middle aged, and mature bucks to do the breeding and pass on their genes.

With these general rules it seems pretty straight forward, but most hunters still find it difficult in judging a cull buck. One of the most important aspects of determining a cull buck is having the ability to age deer on the hoof. If hunters are not skilled at aging live bucks, then much debate can surround which deer to shoot. Case in point:

“I have a buddy that let one of his friends come deer hunting on his land in Texas. Below is the buck that was shot. My buddy tells me it was a good “management buck.” I kinda disagree, but I have not seen the deer in person. To me this buck far from a cull buck even though its antlers are far from symmetrical.

Deer Hunting: What is a Cull Buck?

My buddy says this buck is 4.5 years old with a Roman nose. I disagree. I say this deer is 2.5 or 3.5. It field dressed 152 pounds. I agree, and that is about right for our bucks around here. Am I right or wrong?”


From what the buddy says this buck is most definitely a cull buck. We can judge from the photo ourselves that the buck is not young and not something we would shoot while deer hunting, but the weight information gives us further evidence that this is an old buck. The live weight on this deer would be about 185 pounds, which is a solid indicator that this Texas buck is not young. To sum up, learn how to age bucks on the hoof, identify the requirements for selecting cull bucks, and then stick to it when deer hunting on your property.


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