Steve D

Don't Shoot The Messenger

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Hunters Voluntarily Choosing to Pass Up Young Bucks Pays Dividends:

We know many hunters in New York are voluntarily opting to pass up shots at young, small-antlered bucks. The effects of hunter choice in the southeastern Hudson Valley are dramatic and a great example for hunters everywhere of what can be accomplished when hunters choose to Let Young Bucks Go and Watch Them Grow! 

aging
Skulls and antlers of three bucks taken off the same property. Photo courtesy of Jeff Peil, retired DEC biologist.

 

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i think its a great idea if you have the location and setup to do it and want to hunt for horns.  I have only taken one five point off our lease in last two years.  We actually have less large bucks this year than ever.  We get gun hunted from every side and if i dont take a 5 point i am usually without a buck at all.  I passed a few last year only cause i wanted a chance at one big one all season.  Never got that chance.  The difference of that one 5 pointer sure didnt tip the scales.  And our property isnt big enough to grow big deer esp when the neighbors shoot anything. Which is fine it is their land - dont have a problem with it.  If i do any management it is actually only halfway here.  usually pass on that 1.5 and hope for a 2.5.  But main goal is one for the freezer and i always hope its a doe.  But so far this year that has even eluded me.  Its getting to the point this year all and every deer is on the hit list.  Just sometimes this isnt feasible and i think a lot of NY is like that.  Not many places of large acreage that isnt broken up by many different owners.  

I would be interested to know how large this property is and i assume he shot all three so where is the letting bucks go part of this? 

And no - also not shooting the messenger - he gets a pass - lol  

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15 minutes ago, Robhuntandfish said:

But so far this year that has even eluded me.  Its getting to the point this year all and every deer is on the hit list.  Just sometimes this isnt feasible and i think a lot of NY is like that.  Not many places of large acreage that isnt broken up by many different owners.  

I would be interested to know how large this property is and i assume he shot all three so where is the

That makes two of us and I am getting to the point I will take anything of decent size. I won't shoot a real small one but one notch above real small could be in trouble. I passed & passed last year, put in a ton of hours and ended up with nothing. I would at least like to tag one so I can be more selective later.

They don't mention how large the property is in the article but you are right. Why try to manage a small to medium size property when every other property around shoots everything on sight.

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Our lease rules are 6 or better.  I had and still have sometimes a hard time with this rule but I sort of abide by it.  Most of the guys I hunt with have killed bucket loads of small bucks. I haven't killed a lot of bucks. I have a spike/maybe 3, a four, a Five an eight and nine point. So I have only killed 5 bucks in my life so to me they are all trophys. I won't kill a doe that has fawns in tow (my choice) and I have seen 7 different bucks this season but nothing bigger than a 4pt. Several in bow range.  So when I climb up in a stand I have already ruled out killing 95 percent of the deer ill see. The 8 and the 9 I killed are the only two bucks I have ever seen on our lease that met our requirement. Its not like I am seeing 8 points running all over. We always kill a few nice deer every year and the guys always seem to see nice bucks that they can't get a shot at. Some days I am all for it and some days I would love to sling an arrow at what is under my treestand. I see both sides. 

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If you dont have your property set up properly or are in the right locations based on property. Chances are slim to ever have an opportunity at a bigger older buck/deer. Ive learned this over the years in our managing practices.

The very first thing NYS DEC can do about letting bucks age is get rid of the damn 2nd buck tag. Atleast for a few years. Let them populate back up a bit, by then a majority  will have a couple years under their belts. Still gives hunters a chance to take one buck of choice. It wont change some areas totally. But I bet 50% of the hunters will fill both buck tags, or make it a goal each year to fill those 2 tags more than any thing else. 

We manage with about 50-75% Co-operation in some sort of management of passing young bucks up, some more than others.. But results are night and day. Could be better of course, but could be way worse. Last year our hit list of bucks got hit hard. And we are seeing the results of that,  this year. The list is half the size or less, than what it usually is. We are not a Co -op, but just a lot of like minded sportsman. A co-op would be awesome but some people get iffy about signing up.  

If you feel you have to fill a buck tag every year or 2 or 3 or more.. then passing bucks is not for you IMO. Especially at the beginning stages or implementing your practice, where the bigger buck numbers are probably low. If you dont have property that gives a good buck reason to be there, it will be even that much harder to hunt them. They are hard animals to defeat. It takes a good game plan involving property layout, stand locations access points, food, security, water and most of all "patience".. to compete with a whitetail that has a few years under his belt..

or you just have to have luck on your side more often than not..    

 

Edited by LET EM GROW

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I think alot of this is property. Alot of us have a couple acres but can't make the difference.  The one buck rule would make a difference for sure! it's a good way to get results. I am for shoot what you want on your own property but taking 2 spikes just to take them is silly. If they were to do this they need to give out more doe tags!

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I think antler restriction would be great then the ability to draw more doe tags IF you tag out and report the harvest... last year i didnt get a buck because i held out, this year all ive seen is a small scrub buck. It's not looking good but i shot a fat doe for meat yesterday and still can shoot up to 3 more does i think. I have 2 doe tags and 1 more tag is either sex so if the chance happens and no big buck ill take another doe. I share property with other hunters (not the brightest) and they definitely ruin alot of my chances at even seeing a mature buck but it is what it is.

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7 hours ago, LET EM GROW said:

 

The very first thing NYS DEC can do about letting bucks age is get rid of the damn 2nd buck tag. Atleast for a few years. Let them populate back up a bit, by then a majority  will have a couple years under their belts. Still gives hunters a chance to take one buck of choice. It wont change some areas totally. But I bet 50% of the hunters will fill both buck tags, or make it a goal each year to fill those 2 tags more than any thing else. 

 

 

I would like to see them add a third buck tag, for those of us who purchase gun, archery, and ML licences.   A recent poll on this site showed that for every hunter who say's antlers are more important to them, there are 2.5 who say meat is more important.    As far as the suggestion of "just kill a doe for meat", that is easier said than done in some areas, such as my home zone (9F).  Here, farmers hammer the antlerless deer on nuisance permits, prior to October 1st, the bulk of which are left lay where they fall to feed vermin.   By the time bow season rolls around, it is not unusual to see three antlered deer for every antlerless.   The DEC has been handing out (4) DMP's per hunter for many years in this zone, but you can't kill what you don't see. 

As far as letting the bucks get older, that is all about antlers and (like the poll showed) they are loosing popularity.   A 2.5 year buck offers the best combination of quality and quantity.  I killed a 3.5 last season, and the meat was more but tougher than the 1.5's and 2.5's that I am used to.   I try and pass 1.5's early in the seasons, just to save the tag for a chance at a 2.5,  because there is a very significant meat quantity difference between 1.5 and 2.5, and no noticeable loss in quality.             

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Im not one to tell anyone how to hunt or what they can shoot. You pay your bils, work your job, live your life and as long as its done legally. Do what you choose legally. But if its on my property, I look at where the hunter stands in his her hunting career. than ask politely to not shoot young bucks in areas where we manage. Other areas feel free to hunt how youd like, as long as legal. 

So in areas Doe tags are hard to obtain, or unavailable your ok with 3 buck tags? that doesn't even make sense! You cant make deer live on the property you hunt or frequent your stands if they have no reason to be there. Build up your property some and give the deer a reason to frequent or live on your property. Its like taking from a savings account but never putting money back into it.. eventually its going to go dry... No work goes in, all the work goes out. Numbers deplete..

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I know this may seem like an impossible task, but raise your limit to 8 or better , or 4 points to one side.

i had a similar issue on a 48 acre land I hunted that the neighbors would “high five” after shooting a 4 pointer I just let pass.. it’s frustrating , I know!

after talking to the other neighbors it seemed that Some were on the same page with me. Now I understand if it’s someomes first deer or a young hunter, but if you even get 1 hunter to be on board it could yield results.

it took two LONG years, but we started getting big 8’s, 10’s and an 11 by the third year.  The big guys are out there, they need a chance to grow, they don’t get big by being dumb, they know where to walk and when it’s safe.

good luck

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I strictly enforce a 8+ rule on a 100 acre property that I hunt now, and as crazy as it may sound, I’m going to raise again and not allow small 8’s to be taken. 

I don’t expect everyone to comply, and certainly not expecting the neighbors to understand the methodology but it’s worth a shot.

if you want to fill the freezer, take a doe.. if it’s worth the $500 to put on the wall, take the buck, but don’t shoot a buck unless it goes on the wall.

whos with me on this ?

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Voluntary AR is the only "fair" way to allow hunters that have purchased licenses to harvest what they want. We've seen what happens when trophy hunters want to limit what their neighbors are harvesting, the DEC is coerced into making WMU, county or zone mandatory AR regulations. JMO, mandatory AR is BS. Esp true with today's hunting property size, basically old farm land broken up into ~100ac  or less lots. Obviously, if you don't shoot 2.5yo bucks they will become better quality bucks in a couple years. BUT ... you also  have to live with the fact your neighbors might shoot these same 1.5/2.5yo or basket 8pt bucks and  be ecstatic with the harvest. Who are we to criticize or decide how our neighbors hunt and what enjoyment they should get out of it?

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4 hours ago, 8s or Better HC said:

I strictly enforce a 8+ rule on a 100 acre property that I hunt now, and as crazy as it may sound, I’m going to raise again and not allow small 8’s to be taken. 

I don’t expect everyone to comply, and certainly not expecting the neighbors to understand the methodology but it’s worth a shot.

if you want to fill the freezer, take a doe.. if it’s worth the $500 to put on the wall, take the buck, but don’t shoot a buck unless it goes on the wall.

whos with me on this ?

With you for the most part, but you should probably eliminate the point restriction. And try to focus more on age class. Education is key, everything whitetail, body language, habits, etc... 

In 2006 I started out the season by telling myself i will hold out for whatever would be my biggest buck to date, I ended up taking 2 bucks that year that were my biggest to date. a 2 and a 3yr old. Since then ive kept the age limit minimum to 3.5years or older only. Unless injured etc.. It makes for a long season, but i am usually rewarded with an opportunity every year at a wall worthy buck. I just need to do my part. As logn as i let the young bucks walk, spent the right amount of time, in the right places at the right times, the odds were always slightly in my favor. I Had a bad case of buck fever throughout those years, when it came down to it and instead of having 4 bucks on the wall. There should really be 11. I Lost 2, and missed the rest.. 

One must be willing to go without filling a buck tag if one wants to be successful in growing bigger deer. 2015 was the last year i took a buck, 2016 no opportunities and 2017 i missed my #1 by misjudging yardage. a buck ive chased since 2012!!  

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You said it best... you have to do your part.

age is a great way to go but reason why I go with points is because NOBODY, is going to let a 1 1/2 - 2 1/2 year old 10 pointer walk on by.  Sure he might grow next year but boy does that take a lot of discipline. He may also not grow and be a nice 8 next year. Tough decision.

like you said, do your part, but don’t not do anything.

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4 hours ago, nyslowhand said:

Voluntary AR is the only "fair" way to allow hunters that have purchased licenses to harvest what they want. We've seen what happens when trophy hunters want to limit what their neighbors are harvesting, the DEC is coerced into making WMU, county or zone mandatory AR regulations. JMO, mandatory AR is BS. Esp true with today's hunting property size, basically old farm land broken up into ~100ac  or less lots. Obviously, if you don't shoot 2.5yo bucks they will become better quality bucks in a couple years. BUT ... you also  have to live with the fact your neighbors might shoot these same 1.5/2.5yo or basket 8pt bucks and  be ecstatic with the harvest. Who are we to criticize or decide how our neighbors hunt and what enjoyment they should get out of it?

I’m not criticizing anyone at all, I want everyone to enjoy their hunt.  I was ok with the neighbor shooting whatever he wanted,  don’t think he was looking to decorate his wall anyway, I understand that.

but for some hunters that are looking for the wall hanger...its amazing how people adapt to hunting after they shoot their first wall hanger... shoot a big guy, and next year you will strive to do better or at least a comparable one... but you’ll think twice about taking that 5 pointer next year.

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By nobody your talking about you and your neighbors i take it? I will gladly shoot a mature buck with poor genes, over a genetically inclined 2 yr old any day of the week. Even if it was the difference 50" or more of antler. Antlers dont mean anything to me really, maybe a little but not much.  It gets easier every year to pass deer. Especially if you can offer them what they need to survive on the property you hunt..  I have some neighbors that offer everything a deer needs to survive as well, and amongst them all some will shoot anything with antlers, some will only shoot 6pts or better, other who wait for 2 yr olds, some others wait 3 yr olds  or better like myself. But the fact that across several hills of adjoining properties, there is some sort of management being practiced. We notice more deer in older age classes. 

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Here in PA any legal buck I'm taking. I only hunt open, public land and pickens are slim. And after 50 yrs of hunting I still can't determine a deer's age nor its genetic make-up when viewing it for the first time. I guess I'm just a slow learner. :dontknow:  FT

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I think any QDMA needs to be done at the WMU level. I think adding a statewide DMP to each license purchase and then adjusting the lottery would go a long way to getting people to pass up small bucks if they knew they had a statewide DMP in their pocket. 

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I feel you should shoot what makes you happy. I have killed big and small bucks in NY and am always pleased with my success. 

Their are big bucks out there now, you just have to find and hunt them

And if your happy with a spike then I am happy for you.

I hate the idea that we should all have to abide by another law that can not be enforced.

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The rationale for deer hunting is to reduce the population to enable the thinned herd a better chance to survive winter and all the pregnant does not to miscarriage, not for antlers.

The three inch rule allows hunters to clearly identify a buck.  This enables hunters to know they are killing bucks with the intent to maintain a one buck to three doe ratio.

Non-hunters would be less supportive if hunters hunted for a trophy as opposed to killing deer for the meat with intent to reducing the herd to keep it healthy.  

Do we hunt for conservation values or antler trophies?

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5 minutes ago, Wilderness said:

Do we hunt for conservation values or antler trophies?

How about both? Nothing wrong with seeking out a trophy. 

Edited by pitweiler
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If all I could shoot were Does and I was provided with two Doe tags this year that's all I would shoot . Perhaps everybody gets two Doe tags next year and no buck can be shot .   Don't shoot me for suggesting that ... trophy hunters will have to wait for a year ?

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Answer to No One !

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Is it possible less bucks live in the areas we hunt? I see a fair share of them and does in suburbia and I’m starting to think seer are migrating to suburbia because it offers a lot of shelter, food and less pressure. 

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1 hour ago, Wilderness said:

The rationale for deer hunting is to reduce the population to enable the thinned herd a better chance to survive winter and all the pregnant does not to miscarriage, not for antlers.

The three inch rule allows hunters to clearly identify a buck.  This enables hunters to know they are killing bucks with the intent to maintain a one buck to three doe ratio.

Non-hunters would be less supportive if hunters hunted for a trophy as opposed to killing deer for the meat with intent to reducing the herd to keep it healthy.  

Do we hunt for conservation values or antler trophies?

The three inch rule? Helps identify what?

sorry, but you get a yearling spike? that qualifies for a buck (according to the rules.. yes) and if that’s what you wanted to hunt I’m at peace with that.

please don’t try to justify that taking the yearling spike helped manage the population ratio or for conservation purposes.

 That’s my personal opinion but good luck, I guess that’s why there’s different people with different reasons for doing what they do

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