With a lot of hunters on limited acreage, many deer will die, most likely even those you let walk. So you have to be willing to let the deer walk because they are not something you personally want to shoot, not because you are hoping to see them next year - that can be hard sometimes. Because most likely you won't see them next year, although there is a small percentage chance you might.
However, if you too shoot any deer that walks by, then that deer definately won't have the opportunity to make it to next year. Knowing it only has a small percentage shot at making it anyway, you have to decide what it is you hope to get out of deer hunting and make your decision on that.
Myself, I've come to a point where I will let a deer walk, not because I hope to see it next year, but because it's not one I want to shoot. Don't get me wrong, my first two years if it was brown it was down. But having shot a few deer now I don't have quite the same desire to "just shoot something", I tend to try and take more away from the hunt then just a deer.
I couldn't agree more. It's just nice to think that maybe the deer I'm passing on has a chance.
On the front end of picking up the 200 acres, I was pessimistic about ever seeing good antlers. Everything I saw indicated that my end of the county was a "brown-n-down" sort of environment. I was resigned to taking young basket racks. I was amazed when i started to see measurable racks showing up in only a couple of years. If your hunting land has no way to control access or it's too small, or you have no like minded neighbors, there really is very little hope of influencing antler growth among your herd. In my case, I was able to control access to my place. I had some new like-minded neighbors, and in aggregate we seem to have amassed enough acreage that we can start seeing results. The only thing lacking in this is active cooperation between the landowners.
Still, it goes back to the original question: antlers, or age, or weight, or what?
I shoot what I feel like shooting, and so far, I have seen about half a dozen bucks this year and only one would be anything I would want to shoot. My kids can do what they want, but I'll hold out for a shot I can put my heart into.