Responsible Deer Management

September Pre-Rut/Rubbing Phase and Transition Phase

All of the deer are bulking up for the rut and winter; feeding on alfalfa, clover, green forbes, ripening soybeans and corn in some areas, and mast (acorns, beechnuts). Put out mineral licks and deer attractants in areas where you want deer to come to during the hunting season. Early in the month the bucks should be shedding velvet, and creating rubs and scrapes near late summer nighttime food sources. They may be still traveling together, and may begin sparring at this time.

Later in the month both the bucks and does may move to fall home ranges. With their testosterone levels rising the bucks are less tolerant of each other, fighting may begin, and the buck groups break up as the bucks begin to establish breeding ranges. Scout to find out where the deer currently are; watch food sources for feeding deer and sparring bucks to determine what the bucks look like. Continue clearing deer trails, and shooting lanes. Hang portable stands for the archery season and build permanent stands for the gun season.

Age and Antler Size

If you want to see more large racked bucks in your area the first thing you have to do is use a little restraint. You must let the young bucks go so they can grow. I often hear hunters complain that they see nothing but small racked bucks in their area. These hunters often wait patiently through the season for a big racked buck to appear. Then, instead of going home empty handed they end up taking a small racked buck. If this pattern continues year after year those hunters will see nothing but young, small racked bucks, because the young deer never live long enough to grow large racks.

Deer experts used to believe it took 4 1/2 years for a whitetail buck to develop a trophy rack. It is now believed that a whitetail doesn't achieve full body size until it is about 7 1/2 years old. Until then much of the food and mineral a buck takes in is used to develop bone and muscle mass. Once the buck is fully mature excess food and mineral can be used to develop antler mass, and many hunters equate antler mass with a high score. A close look at any scoring chart will reveal that it is the number and length of tines that makes up the majority of inches needed for the rack to score high enough to enter the record books. The difference between a massive rack and a thin rack might only add 10 inches, which is 1/14 of a 140 class buck, not enough to really matter.

Milo Hanson's world record whitetail has several tines with extremely long points and main beams, with a good spread, but it is not massive. The length of the tines is what made it the new world record. Game officials aged the buck at 4 1/2. Obviously it had superior genetics, and it lived until it was 4 1/2 years old. It is conceivable that a 3 1/2 year old buck could make the archery record book but most trophy bucks are over 4 1/2 years of age. In many areas bucks don't make it past their first year, and the chances of a 2 1/2 year old buck making the book are slim. If you want to see more trophy bucks you have to let the 1 1/2 to 3 1/2 year old bucks go, so they can grow. By letting the young bucks grow, and taking does, you not only keep the herd below carrying capacity, you increase the buck to doe ratio in favor of bucks. Eventually you will have more older bucks, which may translate into more trophy deer.

If you are interested in more whitetail hunting tips, or more whitegtail biology and behavior, click on Trinity Mountain Outdoor News and T.R.'s Hunting Tips at www.TRMichels.com. If you have questions about whitetails log on to the T.R.'s Tips message board. To find out when the rut starts, peaks and ends in your area click on Whitetail Rut Dates Chart.

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