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to shoot or not to shoot


New Member
How can someone know when to harvest management bucks, 80 class 3 1/2 year old buck or to harvest a 4 inch spiker...If you want to manage your deer herd and your main objective is to grow monster whitetails would you pass a shooter to take poor genes outta the herd. Or would you let him breed several does in chance of poor genes spreading, to harvest a trohpy class buck. Do any of you take management bucks outta the heard on purpose just for superior genetics.


Life Member
If I am sure that a buck has inferior genetics, I will likely shoot him or find someone looking to shoot just a buck and try to get him out of the herd. I don't think you can judge what a buck will grow into until they are past 3.5 years old. Sure you can get an idea of what they will be but until they are 4.5 years of age, your guess is as good as mine as to how big one buck will get. My goal when I am buck hunting is to take a deer that is 4.5 years or better. That has come back to haunt me a couple of times by shooting an exceptional 3.5 year old with a tall rack and smaller body when I really should have let the deer go at least another season. Best example I can give to you was the last two seasons, 2002, I past on a 130 inch 3.5 year old three times, 2003, I killed that buck with a 173 inch gross rack......but to answer your question, if a mature buck 4.5 years plus comes past with a scraggly rack....he is shot


you should be able to tell at 2.5 if the animal is gonna worth a pooh. yearling is not a possiblity, year and half it depends when that animal was born but at 2.5 you had better to be able to see what is gonna start forming too. i shoot inferior bucks almost every year too bad it doesnt seem too help. i do think that buck to doe ratio's have a major impact on a animals health and antler growth through the breeding season. in a area where a buck spends two months of hard rutting and breeding twenty does he is so starved and tired that he is not gonna be as big as a buck that only breeds three does all year.



Active Member
I think it all depends on what type of an area you hunt. I know the area I hunt is small (50 acres) and we see a lot of bucks during the rut moving through looking for does. It is along river bottoms with a lot of timber stretched out a very long ways. Anyway I really like Shredder's philosophy, but don't think it will work for everybody. Usually I only see bucks once. Maybe twice if you are lucky. And seeing the same buck from year to year is very uncommon. I think by looking at a 2.5 yr old buck you should be able to see if he is going to be a trophy or a junker. I try for a 3.5 year old but have harvested many 2.5 year old deer. I would rather take a nice 2.5 year old buck that I would see once than to wait for the monster that I won't see. I have also taken does when I have waited for a decent buck and not had any opportunities other than at 1.5 year olds or small 2.5 year olds.

I really wish I had a larger chunk of land to manage. I would plant multiple different food plots and take Shredders philosophy on management.

As far as the original question: No. I take a decent buck for myself or a doe when it comes down to the end. Enough other hunters take out enough bucks that I don't feel taking one buck with bad genes out of the gene pool is going to help my matters much. Plus opportunities for buck tags are to few.

Old Buck

Life Member
There are lots of variables and different situations that complicate answering the question. Basically, I'm with Shredder. The last 3 1/2 I shot netted 158". That may sound good until you start to think what he would have looked like as a 4 1/2 or older. He might not have made it but he didn't get any older for sure after I shot him.

Personally I try to take at least a 4 1/2 and preferably a 5 1/2 or older. That means under the best of circumstances I either eat a lot of tags or put even better put them on an old doe late in the season.

Getting back to the question, most of what I've read indicates that unless you are in a high fenced area it is really difficult to impact the genetics of your deer herd by trying to remove inferior bucks. That said, it still feels good put an inferior buck on the 'hit list'. I think shortfused is correct that a spike tells you more about the condition and age of the doe that dropped the spike than genetics of the spike. Years ago I passed a nice 8 point and shot a spike. Now I think at least the second part of that was a mistake.

Old Buck


Active Member
I must admit, you guys put way more thought into this topic than I ever have. I realize our situation is different and I have alot of mature bucks in my area but I have never considered killing a small racked buck that was of any age to help out the genetics of the herd. I just look for the best buck I can find in a given year and would never use up my tag on a buck i wasn't happy with, would rather shoot a doe if the right buck didn't come along. I honestly don't believe that where i am letting a genetically inferior old buck walk would impact the genetics of the herd. I could be wrong but I sure doubt I'd notice it.
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