Tines on a Deer: What You Need To Know

Most responsible hunters maintain some sort of log while they are in the field searching for their trophy buck. Not only does a top-notch hunter look for citation deer, but they also monitor the condition of the deer population in the area they hunt.

Recording different characteristics regarding the deer population has several benefits for the subsequent seasons. By recording certain dynamics, a hunter can keep track of the overall health of a large deer population and predict whether they are gaining or losing health attributes.

The hunter will log things like the overall weight and size of deer and the condition of the buck’s antlers. One characteristic that observant hunters look for is the lack of brow tines on the whitetail deer population in certain country regions.

What Are Brow Tines?

When it comes to whitetail deer populations, many hunters have noticed that certain deer are missing their brow tines. Hunters score deer as they observe them or take their kill down.

Points on a deer are labeled as G1, G2, and so on, depending on the animal’s number of antlers. The brow tines are known as G1 on the antler score of a deer. Hunters seek whitetail deer that have healthy brow tines, so the G1 spot on the score sheet isn’t bare.

Hunters will remove deer from the herd that have a lack of brow tines. This is to ensure that these deer don’t mate with does and produce further generations of deer that possess this same trait. The antlers are a prized piece of the take for a hunter, and having antlers that score high is an important part of the process.

Removing deer that lack the G1 portion on the score sheet is known as deer management during hunting season. Some hunters refer to this process as a cull buck.

Cull Buck or Deer Management During Hunting Season

It’s a given that if one generation of deer has large antlers, the subsequent generations will possess the same traits. Many hunters largely consider it the responsibility of property owners to remove the deer that lack a brow tine. The point of this removal is to ensure the highest quality for each herd of deer in the populated area.

Cull buck is the selective process of removing deer that possess a lower quality of antlers. The deer that lack these brow tines are considered genetically inferior.

However, it’s important to note that a cull buck could mean two entirely different things in separate regions. There are different measurable characteristics that property owners use to determine which deer should be forcibly removed from the herds on their property.

Cull Whitetail Buck and Deer Herd Management Methods

The most inheritable area in the antler region of a whitetail deer herd is the G1 section. This is the reason so much importance is placed on deer with missing brow tines.

The removal process must happen as soon as one of these inferior antlered deer is spotted with missing brow tines. If a buck is spotted that is three to four years old, this animal is probably spreading this gene to the young bucks of the herd. This one gene abnormality can ruin an entire herd of deer on an owner’s property.

Young bucks have around three years to spread this gene to the rest of the herd. This is why it’s so vital that the removal process happens immediately when deer lack brow tines. It is very easy to field judge the mature deer to decide which ones to remove from the herd when this lack of brow tines is noticed. 

After one of these deer is removed, they have noticeably hardened antlers besides the obvious missing brow tines. There is an obvious lack of antler development. These inefficiencies are why a management strategy is so vital.

The Future of Deer Herd and Growing Mature Bucks

The future of breeding healthy fawns lies in the survival of healthy deer and the removal of inferior bucks. Mature bucks breeding is what leads to the multiplication of healthy reproduction of the herd. Spotting deer that lack brow tines is the easiest way to maintain a healthy population.

According to scientific data, a high percentage of grown male deer that lack brow tines still had spikes when they were yearling bucks. There is a trend with the development of one-year-old deer that possess at least five points.  Normally, deer that possess these five points end up maturing into healthy, full-grown bucks. Alternatively, a one year old buck that still has spikes will lack brow tines their entire life. 

Increasing the Overall Herd Health and Mature Bucks

Other steps can be taken along with deer management services on a property owner’s land. Suboptimal nutrition may play a part in deer without brow tines when they reach maturity. Besides genetics, there seem to be two main factors that influence the antler quality of a given herd of deer.

·         The available nutrition for the overall population of the deer herd

·         The size of the herd in correlation with the available nutrition

Deer Antlers and Available Food

Experts have indicated that property owners have two options. The population of the herd can be spread among larger areas to decrease their density. This makes the amount of available nutrition higher because of the lower number of deer in a designated area.

Alternatively, property owners may increase the amount of nutrition available throughout the entire location of the herd as a whole. The amount of food and supplements available seems to directly affect the antler quality of any given herd of deer as they reach maturity and are without brow tines.

However, it seems that unhealthy antlers are affected by only one dynamic at a time. The problem is either a direct effect of the available food or the genes of the deer herds population.

Property Management 

When a property owner notices a problem with the brow tine growth on his herd of deer, he should first seek to remedy the nutritional availability. If it’s guaranteed that supplements are readily available, or he improves the food availability and the problem still persists, the problem almost certainly lies in the genes.

In this case, if the property owner seeks to improve antler quality and the herd’s genetic future, he has no choice but to partake in cull management of the population.

Rolling over the doe herd can also be a potential remedy. Eliminating older doe that have been sired by bucks with this gene issue will also reduce future generations lacking brow tines.

Takeaways on Deer Management Practices

While some animal activists would argue that this is a cruel process, hunters argue that natural selection would eventually take over regardless. Eliminating genetically inferior animals that can’t be rehabilitated is a natural occurrence that occurs in controlled habitats worldwide. This is one practice that is used when a healthy population of any given species needs to be increased.

Maintaining a healthy herd population is vital for the existence of a future population of healthy deer. Many wildlife biologists agree that this is a necessary process. Lack of deer management implications can include the loss of entire herds of animals, and overall, this process leads to larger and healthier numbers for the species in the end. 

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