Editors Blog

This Young Buck is a Genetic Freak

 Yearling whitetail buck. Photo courtesy of Brad Rucks.

At Deer & Deer Hunting, we have published many articles based off of scientific studies on the merit of "culling" so-called inferior bucks from the herd. Although I personally do not believe that any buck is inferior, there is a time when a landowner can certainly question which bucks he wants to take out of his local population based off of a few physical traits.

The buck in this photo is a prime example. D&DH Publisher Brad Rucks captured this image on his hunting property earlier this fall. Notice the time stamp on his Cuddeback camera: Aug. 30. That is extremely late for a buck to still be in velvet in Brad’s area of Wisconsin, but it is also proof that this buck is a genetic freak — as indicated by his sublegal spikes (or should we say bumps?) on his head.

This is obviously a year-and-a-half-old deer, yet his antler configuration, or lack thereof, would almost indicate he’s a fawn. He’s not. He’s just a very behind-the-curve deer that will likely remain that way his entire life. That’s not a 100 percent indictment, as we do know that undersized yearlings can sometimes make up for the lack of antler growth when they hit ages 3, 4 and 5. However, it is very unlikely in this case. In situations such as these (when a yearling buck has spikes less than 1 inch in length) it is usually a case of a deer that was born extremely late. The reasons why this happens are many, but the individual deer is invariably a runt.

Deer & Deer Hunting contributor Charles Alsheimer has photographed similar deer in the past. He said that his best example was of a similarly sized yearling (as the one in Brad’s photo) that is now 5-1/2 years old and has a small 6-point rack with no brow tines.

Interestingly, if Brad decides to kill this deer this fall, he wouldn’t need to use a buck tag on it. In Wisconsin, a buck needs to have at least one antler that is at least 3 inches long.

What would you do? Shoot the buck, or let it go and, hopefully, grow?

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3 thoughts on “This Young Buck is a Genetic Freak

  1. Tom Thompson

    Thanks for this article. Two years ago I arrowed what I thought was a good sized doe. After recovering the deer, I discovered that it was in fact a button buck like the one in the picture. This buck weighed 120lbs dressed and was at least a year and half old. While it was a buck, I was glad to place my antlerless bonus tag on him. I had never seen or heard about a buck like this. I would gladly shoot this deer again if given the opportunity while possessing an antlerless tag.

    Harvestlessons.blogspot.com

  2. Chris

    I personally would not shoot him, but that’s just because my goals for harvesting deer aren’t to manage the deer on my property. Doe or buck, I try to get the older, bigger deer, because whether they’re big or small, the work is the same to butcher them up. If I’m going to go through a couple hours of cutting up a deer, I want the most meat from it that I can get. If I was trying to manage the genetics in my deer, then I would, but my goal is to get as much meat for the freezer as I can get with each tag.

  3. Bob Richardson

    I would shoot this deer. Actually I shot one very similar to it a few years ago. It was a yearly buck that had polished spikes that were only an inch and a half long. The deer itself was pretty big. Like 120# dressed. We plant food plots and to have a deer like this eating a ton of food doesn’t make a lot of sense when you can just harvest him and let some of the other bucks get bigger. I’m sure he would taste good!

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