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post #1 of 56 (permalink) Old 12-22-2019, 02:20 PM Thread Starter
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thoughts on high grading

As we approach 2 decades of AR, I really am beginning to think we have high graded the herd. With AR and HR the b/d ratio has to be better then then before they were put in place. Yet I would say at least 75% of first yr bucks I have observed are spikes or y's. Can't see how it could be food as corn and soybeans in any direction and good stem count in the winter apple trees and acorn trees also. People will say in a wild herd they will they will interact with the with deer from other areas so it is impossible to hurt the genetics but we are not talking about 300 acres or even a square mile, we are talking about 46,000 sq miles of AR. Anybody know of a study for an area that large? Some will say that female deer contribute 1/2 of the genetics but they have been also getting 1/2 their genetics from a male so they could be getting hi graded also. Some will say my personal observation of my hunting area is to small to count but every yr since AR without exception the % of 1st yr buck in the harvest has declined. Some will say it is because of more and more older buck but that surely should have leveled out after say a decade yet it keeps climbing. If the herd has been hi graded it is too late to do anything about it, it is what it is.
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post #2 of 56 (permalink) Old 12-22-2019, 07:00 PM
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I think it's a conundrum. Technically the motivation of AR & HR wasn't to produce larger racked bucks per se, that was just supposed to be a delightful by-product of the programs. (Even though that's how the programs are graded by nearly everyone) Any internet/armchair biologist (myself) knows it's supposedly not a good idea to kill off your best "potential showing" younger bucks which is exactly what we're doing by shifting the target focus to them (hence the conundrum). Having said that, in the small area of the state that I hunt, AR appear to have been a huge success at allowing many more bucks to reach maturity regardless of what their rack sizes become, and that's probably a good thing. I think the observation of more spikes and Y's being sighted is nothing more than the fact that there are now more of them still alive because of AR. My opinion is very subjective however because my theories are based on the relatively small area of the state that I hunt. So to answer the question...no, I don't think we're high grading, at least where I hunt.
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post #3 of 56 (permalink) Old 12-22-2019, 09:37 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TBrom View Post
... I think the observation of more spikes and Y's being sighted is nothing more than the fact that there are now more of them still alive because of AR...

I think you're exactly right TBrom. Another component is that the majority of spikes (and small, spindly 3's and Y's) are late born fawns that are not genetically inferior, they are just too young at 1.5 years to put much nutrition into growing antlers. HR encourages fawn recruitment, meaning that a lot of female fawns are around and are experiencing their first estrous cycle late fall / early winter; their fawns are born late, and many of those will be spikes and small antlered bucks at 1.5 years. The majority of those will "catch up" at 2.5 years.
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post #4 of 56 (permalink) Old 12-22-2019, 09:47 PM
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I think you're exactly right TBrom. Another component is that the majority of spikes (and small, spindly 3's and Y's) are late born fawns that are not genetically inferior, they are just too young at 1.5 years to put much nutrition into growing antlers. HR encourages fawn recruitment, meaning that a lot of female fawns are around and are experiencing their first estrous cycle late fall / early winter; their fawns are born late, and many of those will be spikes and small antlered bucks at 1.5 years. The majority of those will "catch up" at 2.5 years.
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Originally Posted by TBrom View Post
I think it's a conundrum. Technically the motivation of AR & HR wasn't to produce larger racked bucks per se, that was just supposed to be a delightful by-product of the programs. (Even though that's how the programs are graded by nearly everyone) Any internet/armchair biologist (myself) knows it's supposedly not a good idea to kill off your best "potential showing" younger bucks which is exactly what we're doing by shifting the target focus to them (hence the conundrum). Having said that, in the small area of the state that I hunt, AR appear to have been a huge success at allowing many more bucks to reach maturity regardless of what their rack sizes become, and that's probably a good thing. I think the observation of more spikes and Y's being sighted is nothing more than the fact that there are now more of them still alive because of AR. My opinion is very subjective however because my theories are based on the relatively small area of the state that I hunt. So to answer the question...no, I don't think we're high grading, at least where I hunt.
This is what has happened in my area of the state that i hunt,much better hunting now in the areas i hunt. good deer population and far more 3 yr old bucks than ever before. and no i don t think high grading is happening in my area either.
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post #5 of 56 (permalink) Old 12-22-2019, 11:37 PM
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Last 2 years especially in my area the quality of the older bucks antlers have gone down hill. Lots and lots of spikes and 3s and ys coming by me and on camera.
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post #6 of 56 (permalink) Old 12-23-2019, 12:01 AM Thread Starter
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Not talking about weather or not there are bigger bucks around I have shot 5 mature bucks in the last 7 yrs and if it were not for a bad back one yr would have been six, I am wondering why after the season every junior buck I have on camera which is about 10 are all spikes or y's and I am being generous with the y's. Where are the junior 5 and 6 pts I used to get 5 yrs ago. Something just doesn't seem right. Even saying this to be honest I would be disappointed if the did away with AR as I only enjoy hunting mature bucks.
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post #7 of 56 (permalink) Old 12-24-2019, 01:36 PM
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When it comes to high grading, think about this.

If it was easy to manipulate antler genetics, you would think that the high fenced operations in Texas would have eliminated "undesirable" antler genetics from their herds decades ago. To this day, they still cull bucks with undesirable antlers. To think that antler genetics have been altered in our free ranging herd in Pa due to antler restrictions is pretty unrealistic.

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post #8 of 56 (permalink) Old 12-27-2019, 01:57 PM
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My biggest buck was close to a 130" 8pt. I have trail cam pics of him every year for 4 1/2 years, I know him because of a distinctly shaped throat patch. As a fawn button buck. At 1 1/2 he was a small fork, at 2 1/2 he walked under my stand as a 6pt wide as his ears, at 3 1/2 he was an 8 past his ears and at 4 1/2 when I shot him he was a 18 1/2" spread. I personally don't think all spikes and forks will be inferior racked deer as they get older.
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post #9 of 56 (permalink) Old 12-27-2019, 07:24 PM
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I personally don't think all spikes and forks will be inferior racked deer as they get older.
And you would be right. All those small racked young deer need is age and decent food.
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post #10 of 56 (permalink) Old 12-28-2019, 06:42 PM
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Most who claim we are high grading fail to understand those big buck have already passed on their genetics in a couple of rutting seasons by the time they are shot, how are we eliminating their genetics again? You can't unbreed them doe by shooting the buck....or am I missing something?
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