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In the most recent issue of D&D hunting there's an article about healthy deer herds and I believe the author makes mention that if you see alot of 1 1/2 yr. old spikes, then you probably have an unhealthy deer herd. Does this sound right to any of you? We saw a couple spike horns this year, but I really believe our deer herd is far from unhealthy. So do you all think spikes mean the deer herd in general is unhealthy? And also, if you are seeing 1 1/2 year olds that are nice basket 8's, does that mean you have a really healthy herd/good genetics/good trophy potential in the future??
thanks,
andy
 

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I think it would be rare you would ever not see spikes within a deer herd as yearlings. We see usually more than 1 spike per year on our lease in WI, yet I have yet to see a 3.5 year old that does not score between 130 and 150. Even if you have sex ratios at 1 buck for every 3 does there are going to be does that are not bred on time and the fawning period will be stretched enough that young male fawns may not catch up for a couple years as far as antler growth potential. I've even heard in the past that doe fawns might not come into heat until later in the year, which would spread out the fawning period.

Also, above average winter severity can have a great impact, summer drought, poorer than average mast crop, harsh spring conditions and/or fawning periods.

You even can look on some of the highest levels of managed properties in TX where guys get paid six figures to manage a whitetail herd, and they still have spikes within the herd...and BTW, don't shoot them.

One of the ways you can look at it though is as an indicator over time. I like to look at it as a percentage of yearling bucks you view or take pictures of. If on your property the trends are staying consistant or improving, that's at least not a bad indication, but if you can see over time that there are more spikes in the herd, than changes need to be made, mostly based on deer numbers and habitat.

On my property I've noticed a substantial difference in spikes on the property and those that are 6-7" spikes, instead of 2-4" little pencils. Also, I notice in Sept-Oct. that as yearling bucks disperse and new yearlings come onto the property, I'm seeing the little pencil thin guys for the first time in the year, meaning, my property and habitat efforts have reached a signficant enough point that the yearlings that grow up on my property have noticably better antler growth than those in the surrounding area....my neighbors should be very happy! Basically, I'm trading multi-tined yearlings for little pencils, but no matter they are all the same bucks, and if anything those larger antlered yearling will get shot first and the little pencils will at least find refuge and make it to 2.5 or older, which is a lot better than a dead yearling 6pt. I've gone from spikes being the majority, to spikes being the minority...but following a very harsh winter that might not always be the case so you have to take in all the factors.
 

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Britt Homer
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A couple of excerpts from “Quality Whitetails” (Miller, K.V. & Marchinton, R.L, eds, 1995) are provided below that may shed some light on the subject:


--Even when individuals have good genes and habitat, a buck’s first set of antlers can be spikes. This may occur where buck fawns are born to does bred as fawns or those born to any doe with multiple births. Single fawns born to 1 year-olds may receive poor nutrition early in life because of their small, inexperienced mothers. When an older doe has twins or triplets, the fawns can also be deprived early because of competition for milk and postnatal care. In both instances, the does are likely to be superior genetically, since they are very productive, but the fawns may be somewhat deprived nutritionally and not achieve their potential as yearlings.

--Since the ability of a female to breed as a fawn is related to her size and nutrition, early-born fawns may be more likely to undergo puberty and breed during their first fall.

--When fawns do become pregnant, they almost always have singletons and usually their fawns are born a month or more later than fawns of older does.

--One of the best indicators of herd health , however, is yearling lactation rates. They indicate fawn breeding. Usually, the higher the rate, the better the herd condition.

So, perhaps in areas that have good habitat, good deer ratios, and some Spikes bred by fawns (or had an extended family at birth) may not really be a bad thing?

“Food” for thought….
 

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Ok, take this lightly please!!! I have the answer to this question as soon as I read it and even more so in this forum.

Does seeing spikes relate to an unhealthy deer herd?
Answer:ONLY if the spike is on top of car hood or back of a pickup truck!!!;)
 

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Every spike I've shot was very healthy, delicious even.

IMO, "healthy herd" has become a psychological catch-phrase.
 

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Great answer that was the best, well put,short but true answer of all time.You should get an award for the most brilliant deer managment repliy of the year.My hat is off to you sir.
CONGRADULATIONS,BEER &NUTS
 

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Can you believe I have been nominated and maybe even won for ""the most brilliant deer managment repliy of the year""!!!! I would like to except this award on behalf of all the mods who have supported my posts and opinions...and my family of course..thank you!:lol:
 

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I believe another well-known biologist also had an article on spike horned bucks several years ago. May have been in North American Whitetail but don't remember. Basically, the debunked the myth about taking spikes out of the herd because they were either genetically inferior or a sign of an unhealthy herd. They then went on to show a series of pictures of a spike buck and his next 4 or so years. He had a beautiful rack in future years!

We normally see a few of them around here every year, but on our place we just watch them. However, if they go onto a neighbor's place.... But that's another story.
 
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Thanks Jeff, Benelli, Ferg and others.

Yes, you can actually have an increase in the number of spike bucks, with it indicating a more healty herd.

I seen it in my location. It's a long story but I will try to make it short and understandable.

I keep a very intense set of records in many areas of deer management for my property and surronding area. It was around 3,000 acres and started in 1994. Early records indicated that about 10% of all doe fawns became pregnant. The present Chief of Wildlife, DR. Bill Moritz told me in 1997 that in my area the doe fawns pregnancy rate was close to 15%. Giving allowances for fawn mortality my 10% observation rate looks OK.

Well, in this same area we had a mandatory five year QDM antler restriction demonstration starting in 1999 that protected 50% of all the yearling bucks.

The doe harvest inreased 84% as an average for the five year period. This along with the protection of young bucks tightened the sex ratio to one buck per two does at most. My immediate area observation showed an adult sex ratio of one buck per 1 1/2 does. It was one buck per 3 does in 1994.

In 2004, the year after the five year demonstration my observations showed a birth rate of one yearling doe, (Last years doe fawn) to 1/4 fawn.

In other words more than 25% of the doe fawns became pregnant in order for me to observe 25% of all yearling does with live single fawns. Yes, these fawns were smaller in size and it looked odd seeing so many does with single fawns, with both the doe and fawn being smaller than the other doe family groups. Of course these smaller late born male fawns will be the ones likely to sport spikes the following year.

My observations that year also showed an adult doe to fawn ratio of one doe per 2 1/2 fawns. That is a tricky statement for I do not include yearling does as adults when making that doe to fawn ratio. Yet I counted the fawns of these yearling does in that ratio.

So, can you see what happens when deer are managed to a high degree. The doe to fawn ratio goes off the chart. This is the key to it all, for a sustained yearly high harvest of bucks, (half of the fawns are male).
 

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beer and nuts said:
Can you believe I have been nominated and maybe even won for ""the most brilliant deer managment repliy of the year""!!!! I would like to except this award on behalf of all the mods who have supported my posts and opinions...and my family of course..thank you!:lol:
B&N,

You were DQ'ed for an nomination for "Post of the Year". . .sorry.

It's in fine print, but anyone living, graduating, or having property in any Jackpine conference school district is automatically disqualified for any post of the year for any forum, except the "Lost and Found" forum.

I'm going to try for that one, I here you get to pick from the lost and found box for your prize.:lol:

Anyway, back to the thread. . .no, spikes are fine, but piebald deer are a sign of an unhealthy deer herd I think.
 

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on some property i hunt in mid-mi we have seen alot of the same deer in the past couple of years and some have not grone to nothing. i think is all in the true age of the deer.
if you shoot only the big mature deer and not the mature scrub deer then what do you think your going to have spreading the genes and if you think that there offspring is going to be something big, what are the chances. i have brown hair and my dad has brown hair and my wife has brown hair i'll put money on it my kid has brown hair.
 
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