Write this down
You have just shot a massive buck. The same buck that has been haunting your dreams since the warm summer months. You have planned out everything, from food plots, to trail camera locations, to tree stand set ups. Now you are faced with the task of trailing your target buck. There are many things going through your mind and your excitement level is probably skyrocketing. With so much going on many hunters forget, or never even think about recording the data from their harvests. As it turns out, taking a few extra minutes to record a few specific things from your harvested deer can assist you in your future management endeavors.
When it comes to data recordation I automatically think about the weight of an animal. This applies for bucks and does but as it turns out that isn’t the only thing you need to write down. After taking a buck I will record the deer’s live weight but you can record the field dressed weight too. I also pull the jawbone for aging purposes and I do this by analyzing the tooth wear. I have found this to be the most interesting part of data recordation. This is helpful when managing a property that has an age-specific harvest requirement. I also check out the antlers and roughly score them. The reason for this is I like to be able to look back over the last few hunting seasons and tell what age the deer were and score the antlers were. For example, if you are attempting to harvest deer at a certain antler score or age it helps to be able to look back and know that in the past three years two bucks scoring 130 inches have been harvested and all of the bucks were 3.5 years old. That should notify you that if you want a larger bucks maybe you should strive for 4.5 year harvest requirements. Of course there are exceptions to every property and aging the deer on the hoof can help you reach your goals too.
The same applies for does. I usually check them out and see what they weigh. If it is in the early season I will check to see if they are still lactating or not. If the harvest occurs later in the year you can extract the fetus and compare it with a fetal scale that biologists commonly use. The size of the developing fetus will allow an in-depth look at the time of conception, and this is very helpful when determining the peak breeding time. Of course, if the doe has a fetus it was taken post-rut, so it won’t help you that year because the rut is already over but after a few years of data you may be able to compare when the peak breeding time is occurring, relatively.
Lastly, I inspect every deer I harvest for unique characteristics. Sometimes taking an extra minute to look over the deer can result in some neat findings. This past year I have harvested a buck that had a leg injury. It was a minor injury and I likely would have missed it had I not inspected the deer carefully. I had to actually feel the deer’s leg to find the slug that was buried in it. Amazingly enough, the buck never showed any signs of injury. While this isn’t necessary from a management aspect, it is very interesting.
Many hunters choose not to record harvested deer data but the ones that chose to do so usually have a better idea of what is happening on their property and use the data as a means of gauging the management practices. Point in case, some of the most successful cooperatives and hunting lands record data religiously and interpret what they learn. Even if you aren’t a die-hard deer manager it is still pretty cool to be able to look back and see the details of that buck hanging on your wall.
~ Andrew Walters Mossy Oak PropertiesClick here to return to our blog