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Potential Selective Harvest Criteria for Adult, Male White-tailed Deer in South Texas
by Dr. Mickey W. Hellickson

Mickey W. Hellickson, David G. Hewitt, and Fred C. Bryant

The practice of selectively harvesting inferior-antlered, middle-age and older bucks has become popular. Criteria are often established based on age and antler points. However, no research on wild deer has been conducted to determine the appropriateness of these harvest criteria. Our objective is to randomly capture and measure >500 bucks annually on 5 areas to estimate age, count points, and determine gross Boone & Crockett Club (GBC) score. Capture data will be used to relate GBC score of recaptured mature (>5 years old) bucks to the number of antler points these same bucks had when initially captured at a younger age.

To date, 63 3-year-old bucks and 126 4-year-old bucks have been recaptured at >5 years of age. Only 3 of 52 (6 percent) 3-year-old bucks with <8 points had GBC scores >150 when recaptured, versus 9 of 30 (30 percent) 3-year-old bucks with >9 points. Only 5 of 102 (5 percent) 4-year-old bucks with <9 points had GBC scores >150 when recaptured, versus 15 of 58 (26 percent) 4-year-old bucks with >10 points. An additional 83 5-year-old bucks have been recaptured at >6 years of age. Only 2 of 37 (5 percent) 5-year-old bucks with <9 points had GBC scores >150 when recaptured, versus 14 of 52 (27 percent) 5-year-old bucks with >10 points.

Our data indicate very few (<6 percent) 3-year-old bucks with <8 points and bucks >4-years-old with <9 points have GBC scores >150 at an older age. Therefore, these 2 categories may be useful criteria for the selective harvest of inferior-antlered bucks in South Texas.

Cooperative funding was provided by A. R. Sanchez, Jr.; Carl Rush; Carlos Y. Benavides, II; International Bank of Commerce; Joe Finley; King Ranch, Inc.; and Texas Parks and Wildlife Department.

Ratio and percentage of 4 categories of 3-year-old bucks with gross Boone & Crockett Club (GBC) scores at or above different benchmarks when recaptured at >5 years of age on 5 study sites in South Texas during 1998–2005.
____________________________________________________________________________________________________________
GBC score when recaptured at >5 years old Average GBC
Antler points ___________________________________ score at >5
at age 3 n >130 >140 >150 years of age (range)
____________________________________________________________________________________________________________
<7 14 2/14 (14%) 0/14 (0%) 0/14 (0%) 119.7 (112–132)
8 38 17/38 (45%) 8/38 (21%) 3/38 (8%) 130.2 (86–187)
9 10 7/10 (70%) 3/10 (30%) 2/10 (20%) 137.9 (123–164)
>10 20 18/20 (90%) 11/20 (55%) 7/20 (35%) 147.0 (121–199)
____________________________________________________________________________________________________________


Ratio and percentage of 4 categories of 4-year-old bucks with gross Boone & Crockett Club (GBC) scores at or above different benchmarks when recaptured at >5 years of age on 5 study sites in South Texas during 1998–2005.
____________________________________________________________________________________________________________
GBC score when recaptured at >5 years old Average GBC
Antler points ___________________________________ score at >5
at age 4 n >130 >140 >150 years of age (range)
____________________________________________________________________________________________________________
<7 18 3/18 (17%) 1/18 (6%) 1/18 (6%) 111.6 (35–151)
8 42 11/42 (26%) 6/42 (14%) 2/42 (5%) 119.5 (76–164)
9 42 27/42 (64%) 12/42 (29%) 2/42 (5%) 132.7 (103–166)
>10 58 37/58 (64%) 28/58 (48%) 15/58 (26%) 141.0 (104–199)
____________________________________________________________________________________________________________


Ratio and percentage of 4 categories of 5-year-old bucks with gross Boone & Crockett Club (GBC) scores at or above different benchmarks when recaptured at >6 years of age on 5 study sites in South Texas during 1998–2005.
____________________________________________________________________________________________________________
GBC score when recaptured at >6 years old Average GBC
Antler points ___________________________________ score at >6
at age 5 n >130 >140 >150 years of age (range)
____________________________________________________________________________________________________________
<7 5 0/5 (0%) 0/5 (0%) 0/5 (0%) 103.4 (99–118)
8 20 4/20 (20%) 1/20 (5%) 1/20 (5%) 123.8 (101–154)
9 12 4/12 (33%) 2/12 (17%) 1/12 (8%) 129.9 (118–151)
>10 52 42/52 (81%) 29/52 (56%) 14/52 (27%) 143.6 (115–199)
____________________________________________________________________________________________________________



Posted by Dr. Mickey W. Hellickson on 05/21 at 11:16 PM
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