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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