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Finding, harvesting big bucks nearly an impossible dream



Published: Sat, January 8, 2005 @ 12:00 a.m.



Traditional buck-raising is like a fantasy.

SCRIPPS HOWARD

A well-known children's story, "The Emperor's New Clothes," parallels what's happening today in the world of deer hunting.

In this myth, the emperor commissions a flim-flam artist to make him a suit of new, beautiful clothes that are invisible to everyone except the very intelligent. People pretend to see the emperor's new fine clothes because they all want to be perceived as being highly intelligent.

Finally, one of the children screams out that the emperor doesn't have on any clothes. Then the people and the emperor realize they've been duped.

If you're wondering how this fairy tale equates to deer hunting, here's how. The world of deer hunting has said everyone needs to take bigger, older bucks with bigger antlers.

To produce those bucks, you have to let the young bucks walk. If you don't take the 1 1/2 and 2-year-old bucks, then by the time those bucks reach ages of 3 1/2 to 6 1/2 years old, they'll have become big bucks. You can take the deer of your dreams, which sounds great.

But a couple of things have been left out of this fairy tale, just like the clothes makers left the thread and the cloth out of the emperor's clothes.

When a buck reaches 3 1/2 years of age, especially in the eastern section of the United States, he has a Ph.D. in dodging hunters. He'll primarily move at night. You'll only have a slight opportunity of taking him -- even if you hunt during the rut.

Dominant buck remains

When bucks get older and bigger, they will fight. The dominant buck will remain on your place, but the other big bucks that have the urge to breed will leave and move out of a region, a process called dispersal, and often travel as much as 5 miles to find does.

To have big bucks in most areas, you have to reduce the number of does on your property, since fewer does mean more food for older-age-class bucks. However, during the breeding season, these bucks will go to the places that have the most does. If your neighbor's property has more does, those big bucks will leave your land and go to his.

To raise a big buck on any land, you must allow that buck to reach an older-age class and provide it with plenty of food and sanctuary. Therefore, you can't harvest that buck.

Pay for NOT hunting?

You won't get to take very many deer on the property you hunt or have much venison to enjoy. Will you pay the dues for a hunting lease for two or three years and not have the opportunity to take a buck?

Everyone thinks he has the solution of how to grow big bucks on his lands. The emperor thought he had the finest new clothes. As long as you don't deal with the actual facts, then you'll find raising big deer easy, simple and fun, just like wearing invisible clothes.

I realize that this column goes contrary to everything you've read and heard about how to raise big bucks and why you need to raise big bucks. Raising big bucks and wearing invisible clothes -- can you see the parallel?




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