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Monday, October 29, 2012

The not-so-impressive white tails....

This has not been a typical camera trapping fall in regards to white-tailed deer. I have had dismal results on my property and not much better on my Father's. I have not had the number of overall deer I normally get nor am I getting the quantity or quality of bucks seen in past years.

Here is an interesting pair of photos taken about an hour apart. This first photo is of a deer with his first set of antlers. Since deer are born in the spring and data is collected from harvested deer in the fall, deer ages are usually given with an "and a half" added. For example, this deer is one and a half years old.

Yearling white-tailed deer
(Seneca Falls, NY 10/12)
Now take a look at the next deer to walk past the camera. He is sporting a much larger rack. Now that could be for a variety of reasons. He could have better genetics. He could have better nutrition. He could have both! But this guy is almost certainly just OLDER than the first deer. We can look at two clues in the antlers. One is the larger spread. Almost every single 1.5 year old buck has a rack that is inside his ear-spread. This second deer is not quite past the ear-spread either, but that is still common for 2.5 year old deer. The next clue to the age of a deer is the diameter of the antlers. Look at how much thinner the rack is above than the one below.

Two and a half year old buck
(Seneca Falls, NY 10/12)

Just one more year or two and that buck above will be a nice trophy. And that has been the theme this fall. Any photos of deer I have gotten, all show the promise for future seasons, but none look like the kind of buck I would like to harvest this year. The test for me always comes on some cold day when I find it hard to remember the last time I saw a deer and along comes a young buck. It is then that I feel torn between letting him walk and HOPING to see him again or killing him then and there and filling the freezer. In the last decade, I have let far more deer walk than I have shot. In the end, I do not regret that. There always seems to be venison from Dad, even when I don't find the buck I want to shoot. One last photo to share. A ten-point buck that I need to find next year....

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