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Passing on deer...


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Hunter education in Germany emphasizes the seriousness with which they take managing game animals, the foresters know their herds inside and out and you are going after specific animals they have in mind (at least that was the way in the early 1980s).  With the country size differences that's not really feasible here, current attitudes of hunters would make that tough going at such a level and I remember reading of Pennsylvanians going nuts over deer herd management suggestions/moves through time which gave me the impression that working on behalf of the health of the herd isn't always the way to a hunter's heart.   I'm all for shooting does and usually only buy doe tags--exception is the muzzleloader season which is either/or and I haven't bought those tags in a while now.   The mountain deer we used to shoot in PA were okay I guess, but the deer I've shot in Nebraska and Missouri have been on another level.  I brought some venison back to my father's friend who owns the camp we used to hunt from in Potter county and he told me he'd never tasted venison that good. 

 

Seems we see does in groups, I will pass on smaller ones just to get the greater yield from a larger doe, these things taste great and I usually hunt along rivers which have been problem areas for their concentrations of whitetails.  They used to issue tags good for two does in areas along the major waterways, I can go without killing any more bucks.

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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 pass a lot of deer and we have a lot. That said it still only pays off occasionally for really big deer but it is fun to see nice bucks all season and does are generally better on the table. 
Here’s the thing though if you want improvement, if you don’t pass them all season you’re not passing at all. That’s said, everyone take what makes you alone happy. 
 

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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 mixed bag of types throughout the state.  These release deer came from the Great Swamp of VA, Northern MN and some from WI and from Kansas as well as some from PA if memory serves.  They managed to develop into a very healthy population.  Illinois now has almost unlimited doe tags and is still producing great bucks but I feel that the best years are past us.

 

I have "managed" deer on mine and adjacent properties for almost 40 years.  Those that hunt it legally have agreed to not take any bucks until we are pretty sure they are over 4.5 and that takes a bit of doing.  We do have some "sneak in hunters" which we have caught a few and pressed charges.  That seems to have slowed it down.  Well hidden/placed  trail cams have helped a bunch.  

 

When I want meat its a doe without fawns.  That allows this:

 

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 and this.....

 

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Yea, I know, ya cant eat horns but they sure look good on the wall and it makes me happy.  By the way....  this guy ate pretty well.  Gutted right away and hung head down for a week.  Cut it with a fork and no "bloody", gamey taste.

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I like to shoot does early in the season. They taste better because they have a larger variety of food. I wait until the rut in November to target bucks and pass on does. Once gun season opens, I try to fill all remaining tags.  

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In Ohio we get one antlered deer, and I’m always afraid if I take one, Bullwinkle will walk past me later. I mostly want meat so I shoot does, and let the bucks pass unless really nice. That’s why I’ve taken exactly one buck in the ten years I’ve been hunting. 

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I have a little different take on the question/topic.  Its just my wife and I and she doesn't like venison.  So for the last 6 years I knew where 2 bucks lived saw them every season while I was blue grouse hunting ...well those two bucks are gone, the area has been developed in the last 2 years, so I switched my focus to the area near the cabin and I drew a Muzzle Loader tag.  I hunted every morning and evening and the first 3 days, from sunup to sundown. I had deer in my sights and easy distance every day...but it was all the same deer, deer from the area around our cabin youngish bucks 2x2 and 3x3 (Western count as these are Mule Deer) easily ID ed as bucks my wife and grand daughters take pictures of, bucks that live near the cabin all summer and while for sure are not pets...they are not like hunting wild deer either. 

 

I didn't fill my tag this year.  I didn't want to, just fill the tag...we don't need the meat (my wife doesn't even want the meat) and I was looking for an experience beyond just pulling the trigger on a deer.  So with that in mind I took pictures of the valley/club bucks and the huge bull moose that I had in front of my .50 Cal Knight muzzle loader.  I will try again next year. 

 

I told my buddy that maybe the best way to express it was I want to hunt and not just harvest.  There is nothing wrong with filling the freezer, I am a firm believer in the harvest of wild game, but my unique situation put me out of Harvest mode and into Hunt mode.  And that is not to say I would not have shot a legal (Small) buck if it had been a hunt to get him.

 

I may not have expressed myself as well as I would like, but it is truely the fist time in my hunting life that I passed on filling my tag and looked for something else..and with no deer in the freezer this winter... it may be the last time... :) 

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Another take on this subject is I often get invited to hunt on a buddies farm. Now Mark is all up into shooting trophy deer and  will show me trail cam pics of big deer he’s recorded from time to time. I even had one of them show himself at a scrape while I was sitting in a stand one morning and let him walk. I told Mark I had seen him and that he needed to take that stand for the next sit. He asked me why I didn’t shoot it and I replied that I wasn’t going to shoot his big deer. He said it would have been OK but when that really happened a couple of years later and a fellow shot the biggest deer that they had seen on the farm I could tell Mark was really  disappointed. Maybe it’s because I’m from the South but I was raised that when invited to dinner at someone’s home you never take the biggest piece of chicken.

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I have not killed a deer in over twenty years. Before that, more than I can recall. At some point, I decided I had eaten my fill of venison. 

 

I still buy a tag every year because you just never know. Last fall, I came close to ending the streak of not killing a buck. I saw a pretty good mule deer buck while elk hunting. After letting him go,,,I thought maybe my standards were too high. I tried to find him the next day, but he made himself scarce.

 

Maybe this year, likely not thou.

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3.5 year old bucks or better, bigger bodies does (3.5 yrs) do not get a pass. Fawns always, small does a pass. Most any buck smaller than 8pt or 15” wide gets a pass. Still I have no problem taking 5-7 deer a year, first sit this year a 3.5 yo 8pt around 90” and second sit had a small buck and adult doe with two fawns come in. Had my son out for first bow hunt ever, he shot the doe and we have been focusing on the uplands and today the ducks. No problem finding the right deer here hunting only a handful of times, I scout at work every day so it’s pretty easy to establish a pattern. After the woodcock flights we will hit the deer woods again. 

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Sometimes they get a pass, but its not my choice.

 

 

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6 hours ago, MAArcher said:

Sometimes they get a pass, but its not my choice.

 

 

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How did the deer react to the sound of the arrow impacting that tree ? I remember once having an arrow deflect and become vertical as it slapped a spike buck across it's body just behind the front shoulder perfectly straight up and down.  The deer steps to follow obscured his vision of me and I was able to knock another arrow and killed that deer .

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6 hours ago, max2 said:

How did the deer react to the sound of the arrow impacting that tree ? I remember once having an arrow deflect and become vertical as it slapped a spike buck across it's body just behind the front shoulder perfectly straight up and down.  The deer steps to follow obscured his vision of me and I was able to knock another arrow and killed that deer .

 

That was from last year I think it was.  Maybe the year before.   There was a group of does and they skedaddled.   It might have been my imagination but I thought I heard them snickering at me.

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  • 2 weeks later...
Birdcountry70

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 asked Evan if he wanted to shoot it and he said "No, I want to wait for a chance at a bigger one"  I hoped he would get that chance and we didn't regret it later. It only took another hour and a half until he got his chance. This one stepped out of the brush at 65 yards with 10 minutes of shooting light left.  While we were  heading to the truck I mentioned how he had learned a lesson about passing up deer. "If you shoot the first deer you can, odds are you won't kill very many bigger ones in your life ".  He said next year he's going to hold off for a really big one.  Ha! He's hooked!

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Nice buck, Bird. I bet ur proud. I passed on a decent buck early this am. He will be a shooter next year.  Then again on a half rack. Nice n wide 4 pt on one side, spike or fork on other. Good body. I’d shoot him if it was late season just to clean up the gene pool  Didn’t get pics of them, but this means bucks are starting to move more. nice morning to be out. 

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