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Passing on deer...


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It's a tough thing to do. I don't suppose I'll ever get used to it. I know there are a few nice bucks left on the property I'm hunting and I am holding out for one. I've set a self imposed limit to shoot nothing but a big buck until at least veterans day. So obviously I've been covered up with all sorts of little deer. In the 6 sits so far, I think I've seen right at 45 deer. And probably half that have passed by within crossbow range.

 

Case in point, here is a small bodied 5 pt that hung out at 25 yds for about 5 minutes. But by rifle season, if they brown, they down!

 

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I am fortunate to live where there are big deer.  Not the Canadian monsters that we see huge body weights from but rather a "hybrid" mixture. Deer in Illinois were gone until the IL DNR reintroduced a

I was thinking about this thread tonight when my son and I were hunkered down in an old irrigation ditch in the woods and a small 4x4 whitetail walked 30 yards in front of us. When we first saw him I

My approach is like many here, and that's if you want meat, shoot a doe. I also think a doe is usually better to eat than an older buck. Whacking a good buck is always exciting, but I like to let them

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I'm the complete opposite. I deer hunt only for the meat. 2 or 3 annually and we don't have to buy beef! And I'm a lazy deer hunter, don't like long drags at all. My best stand is my back deck. I've got the only oaks and my trees are dropping right now. Had 5 does, 3 fawns and 4 bucks last night!  Come blackpowder season I'll thin the herd.

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What is your goal...”trophy” buck?  And why the change of heart come November. If trophy I get it. But taking a smaller management buck and letting the bigger bucks breed “should” help with having a better gene pool in your area.  

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We still have bachelor groups of bucks traveling together. I'd like to kill a big one so I'm holding out for the few I have pictures of. But by November I'll start filling the freezer. Then December it's woodcock and beyond. 

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Highly dependent on what state you are hunting. IMO. Hunters who pass up too many deer in much of Maine eat tag soup. We don’t exactly enjoy huge bag limits.  I don’t pass up any deer in early management bow season except for spotted fawns. And come November and at end of that management hunt in early December they are plenty big and fair game. I don’t generally bow hunt the statewide October season since I’m bird hunting, But love rifle deer hunting too, so if Ive killed any deer with bow earlier and have meat I might pass on a small buck or two with rifle early but that has come back to bite me too many times. Brown is down must have been coined in Maine.

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I’m pretty much with Brad on this one. I really cant imagine seeing 45 deer in one season let alone 6 sits. Heck that exceeds  the total  number of deer I’ve seen while hunting in the past 15 years.

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On 9/27/2020 at 9:06 AM, ScenicRoute said:

What is your goal...”trophy” buck?  And why the change of heart come November. If trophy I get it. But taking a smaller management buck and letting the bigger bucks breed “should” help with having a better gene pool in your area.  

 

I pass bucks quite often.  Especially the last few years because my son was hunting with me most of the time and many times they were headed in his direction.  Speaking just for myself, I pass bucks for a few reasons.  The first being that I really don't want my season to end.  Yes I still have doe tags but doe tags don't motivate me to get up in the morning and climb a tree.  Another reason is that many times I just enjoy seeing the deer, knowing that I have him fooled and am within his 'safety zone'.  Once in awhile, the mood just isn't there to deal with a deer either, so it would have to be a monster for our area for me to shoot on those occasions. 

Having said all that, none of it is for making a better gene pool.  They have the same genes as a 1 year old as they do at 5.

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It depends on the timing for me.  I passed a doe the other night.  She was on the small side, and the shot was on the wrong side of 25 yards.  And my tracking dog was an hour away with the trainer.  And it was hot.  And I had a full day of making a living scheduled for the next day.   So I just watched her for a half hour.   If she was even a basket rack six point and under 25 yards, maybe it would have been worth the trouble.   As it stands, I look at it like a left a live decoy in my honey hole.  

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Mike da Carpenter

Two weekends ago, a friend invited my boys to hunt his property.  His only rule was does only.  We were only in stand for less than 1 hour, but we got to watch 7 bucks (6 point to spike) till a couple does showed up for them to shoot.  Wasn’t hard for the boys, but was a killer on me.

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WI Outdoor Nut

I pass on almost all deer.  We harvest 2-3 deer in my family, and usually the kids take those.  So far this year, we have seen 55 deer, and my son harvested a 9 pointer.  I have let everything walk.  Last year, we saw 367 deer and harvested 3.  Letting small bucks go is not hard at all after the 1st few years, knowing that most of the neighbors do the same, and the quality of racks will grow.  This buck here, I let walk at least a dozen times last year and he has very nice growth for 1 more year, making him a 3.5 most likely.  Once you see some of the results of letting the smaller bucks go, it becomes easy.  For does, which we always take a few, it needs to be the right night, that I have time to take care of a deer. 

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My reasons for passing up bucks are complicated and constantly changing depending on things like if I have a lot of time left, am I carrying a bow or handgun or rifle. How much freezer space is  available, will I have time to process it or do I have to travel soon for work.   My main philosophy is shoot a doe or two for the freezer and use my buck tag on a good one or not at all. I've had quite few buck tags go unused after passing up small and medium bucks all season long. It doesn't bother me. I look forward to deer season all year, I've killed good bucks on opening day and I always have mixed feelings about using up my only buck tag early on. 

 

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Samuel Hoggson

They've had several consecutive mild winters so........Sean and I decided to apply for antlerless permits this year.  Like everyone in our zone, we were successful.  My crystal ball sez neither of us will fill out an antlerless tag.  Who knows.   

 

1.5 and 2.5 year old males get a pass.  Well, unless obviously crippled.  At 3.5 they start to interest us.  Most years we will get a 200# +/- dressed weight buster in a crosshair at some point during rifle season.  If we put in the time.  Not about trophy antler spread, want decent body and antler mass.  One is enough.  Two would be nice.  Coyotes even better.

 

No argument with meat hunters.  Was a "brown.....down" guy for decades.  Just not anymore.  Son's never been that way.  More fun watching them now.  Sometimes they stay bedded and watch me get in the Taj.  Not afraid to hem and haw ourselves into tag soup.  Akin to grouse with a Model 42.      

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When I was a kid, I would shoot anything legal. Probably the last 30 years if I want meat I will take a doe.  Our limit is very generious, in my eyes to generious.  My wife doesn't eat deer or any wild game. So usually I only shoot a deer if I know someone needs one or wants one.  I will then keep a little for my self.  Our property is under trophy management and has been for at least 30 years which is the time my FIL took control over the farm.  On the property as a whole we might take one buck a year but I know the past 2 years we haven't taken a buck. A few does have been removed.  I cant speak for you guys up north that might have low deer no.s but down here, if you want meat there are more than enough does for you to legally take and fill a freezer. Our bucks don't get giant racks but to shoot a buck that's not fully mature does nothing for me.  

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We eat meat and game meat is a big part of our social interaction with family and friends.  I'm looking for a healthy yearling (not a late born 60lb deer though) and the first one I see I will do my best to put it in the freezer.  I don't have a history of passing deer if in range and a safe shot, however, I can say a healthy 1 1/2yr old buck has nothing to fear from me, and possibly even a 2 1/2 year old.  I've been blessed to have taken a number of deer the last few years and really am looking for something tender or possible an older buck.  These 2 will not be getting a pass if I see them though.

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My approach is like many here, and that's if you want meat, shoot a doe. I also think a doe is usually better to eat than an older buck. Whacking a good buck is always exciting, but I like to let them reach their potential.  Taking pictures of bucks I see and pass up while hunting is fun; sort of like "catch and release."

We have too many does, so bringing in 10 Marines each October and letting them all shoot a doe is my way of knocking the numbers back before the rut comes in.  The Marines have a blast and it lets me enjoy a bit more competition in November among the bucks that are searching for love. 

 

 

Marines with some of their booty:

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