Ted Nugent on Deer & Deer Hunting

Horns of Plenty: We’re Amid Antler Wars

Doe? Buck? Spike? Giant nontypical? Hunters have a variety of choices and should be able to make their own decisions.

Doe? Buck? Spike? Giant nontypical? Hunters have a variety of choices and should be able to make their own decisions.

There on the classic knotty pine wall above the fieldstone fireplace in what can only be described as the ultimate all American deercamp log cabin, deep in the mystical big timber of Michigan’s Manistee National Forest, hangs the most magnificent whitetail beast a deerhunter could ever dream of.

By Ted Nugent

And I know deerhunting dreams. Mine have saturated my life for my entire 65 years, and there is no escaping these special life-enhancing fantasies that drive our unique segment of humankind: deerhunters.

I also know such dreams are as personal and subjective to each individual as anything life has to offer, but I have a very strong feeling that my simple deerhunting dreams are shared by more deerhunters across the land than any assorted variations thereof.

I understand the historical, even mythical fascination with huge antlered stags. I get it. This fascination is Pragmatism 101 in its origins, and began early on in our species existence, far removed from anything that would develop into record books or trophy considerations.

The hieroglyphics on cave walls do indeed tell a story of original man, and the do-or-die relationship with the spiritual beasts that provided food, shelter, clothing, tools, weapons, medicine and spirituality to our caveman ancestors.

Our hunting heritage leaves no room for conjecture, for the large antlered creatures painstakingly depicted in these ancient storybooks tells the story of our admiration, respect and powerful relationship with the creatures that kept us alive.

Just How Much Do You Know About Whitetail Behavior? Why Not Find Out?

It was afterall, the baddest MoFo hunter in the clan who consistently brought home the most and biggest critters to sustain the village. I suppose the first example of quality deer management came about by those select souls who specialized in killing game, who came to the realization that the biggest, oldest, largest horned and antlered beasts were also the smartest, most elusive and challenging animals to kill. Game on.

I am confident that the creation of village hierarchy was determined by which hunter was the most successful, thereby drawing the most admiration, leadership position, and dare I say, breeding rights. Like the dominant stag of the herd, the bravest, strongest, smartest, most capable man would establish genetic superiority; hence, survival of the fittest. (killer rock record, by the way).

Regardless of the silly nonsense that we are all created equal when clearly every person is unique, uniquely capable of special talents and individually driven to one-of-a-kind effort and levels of accomplishment (wow, getting pretty deep for a deerhunting article here) “to each his own” is the ultimate declaration of independence and pursuit of individual happiness where freedom reigns supreme.

One hunter's trophy buck may just be meat in the freezer to another hunter.

One hunter’s trophy buck may just be meat in the freezer to another hunter.

So, Back to That Deer Head

Which brings me to the deer head on my old Nugent family cabin wall. This stunning embodiment of my deerhunting life has no antlers. It is a fat, butterball whitetail buttonbuck, a nubbin buck, a fawn, with barely visible little velvet nobs atop his six-month-old skull, mounted regally by the taxidermist way back in 1969 who couldn’t believe I was willing to pay to have a fawn mounted.

But I was, and it is important to note, that right next to this little deer is another little deer, also sans antlers. This yearling doe was my first bowkilled whitetail I arrowed with my Bear recurve and a MicroFlight glass arrow tipped with a Bear Razorhead, in October 1972.

The little buttonbuck was my very first deerkill ever, on that long ago opening morning, with my dad’s pre-64 Winchester Model 70 .308.

What these two deer lack in the antler department is virtually negated by the earth-shattering memories of finally putting it all together and, finally punching tags on my beloved whitetail dreams.

Which brings me to the essence of this article; giving my opinion on Quality Deer Management and mandatory antler restrictions.

About Those Antler Restrictions

I am all for “quality” deer management, a concept which can differ substantially from what is officially known as “Quality Deer Management” in many circles.

Both issues can be summed up singularly for most of us, and that is that we want the healthiest, quality deer herds the land can support, but antler restrictions should always be left up to the individual hunter.

When examined honestly, many of the mandatory antler restrictions in place here and there today have absolutely nothing to do with the age of a buck. In some parts of Texas, the original laboratory of QDM and age-based herd manipulation, a legal width or number of points oftentimes is counterintuitive to harvesting older deer.

For example, when the legal width is mandated at 13 inches, I assure you that many older class bucks under 13 inches that should be harvested will die of old age, while a 1.5-year-old 15-inch buck can be killed and surely should not be.

Same with point restrictions. The number of points on a rack rarely has anything to do with the buck’s age. More often than not, if higher scoring, larger antlered older bucks are the goal, the wrong deer are killed and the wrong deer are passed on.

Family, friends and hunting can make the camp meat pole sag before the processing begins!

Family, friends and hunting can make the camp meat pole sag before the processing begins!

What I Believe

I believe there should be no mandatory antler restrictions, but rather, like has been proven in Buffalo County, Wisconsin, and by contiguous landowner agreements across America, the big push should be on learning to age deer on the hoof according to body configuration, not antlers.

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and one man’s trophy is another man’s backstrapper. We should strongly encourage letting those young bucks walk, but we should never dictate to our fellow hunters what determines the desirability of one deer over another.

Meanwhile, I will toast my trophy buttonbuck and that little doe every season forevermore. We don’t kill buttonbucks on our properties anymore, but I wouldn’t want it to be against the law.

More Cameras Means More Information About Your Deer! Get Some Now!

Want more from Ted, including his 2014 concert tour schedule? Find out what’s happening in the Nuge’s world at his website, www.tednugent.com


2 thoughts on “Horns of Plenty: We’re Amid Antler Wars

  1. setatliberty

    I submitted and won a place in \We Kill It, We Grill It\ Thanx Ted for mentioning my recipe as one you liked. Venison Fungi (Fun Guy). They edited the most important part of the wood used for grilling…. Rotten (Yes, rotten) cherry wood brings a much more savory zing to the smoke/grilled quarry. Anyway…..I appreciate your input in hunting as a practical hunter for food, because that is where it all began, and that is where it will eventually lead. When the dollar gets dumped, people will be sneaking up on the little spotted four legged delights. every chance they can 😉 Just wanted to blow steam also. I am repulsed with the amount of product endorsements that you have been writing in Deer & Deer hunting mag in recent months. Come on Ted, Does Uncle Ted really need to dance for Daddy Warbucks??? I couldn’t find the reader’s recoil here, but I did find your blog, so just wanted to let you know, it’s too much dude. \I stealth fully eased through the trail that I cut with my Kubota K28, I climbed up the Sure Tight steps that easily went into the tree, then I climbed into my super quiet Lone Wolf fixed position stand clutching my trusty Mathews bow. I put the Luminoc to the corner of my lips and sent my carbon Express True Flight (tipped with the new Rage Xtreme) right though the lane that I cleared with my Rigid extension pruners. The beast never saw it coming because I was wearing……\ You get the picture???

  2. muzzy

    More logic from strap assassin Wackmaster!
    I killed my first deer ever wile I was trapping in Louisiana and it was ironically a button buck. I was 13 yrs old. And my first and much anticipated bow hunt, I arrowed a young doe! I’ve killed a few nice bucks in my time hunting, but those two memories I will always cherish! The pure thought of what might come walking through them woods grabbed hold of me and never let go!
    Kill’em & Grill’em always Uncle Ted! – Muzzy

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