This week's edition of "Traplines on Cypress Creek" discusses certain deer that should remain off limits to hunters until next season.
I’m almost afraid to comment about the cool weather streak we’ve had for fear the stifling heat will return for one last hurrah. Still, it feels great to be able to sleep with the windows open.
Thus far, it seems the bow season hasn’t been such a resounding success. I hear a few stories but nothing exciting. I’m sure it’s partially because of all the standing corn as well as a bumper crop for many soybean fields that will allow the deer to stay in their kitchens most of the time. The cool weather keeps the bugs at bay, so why bother to roam when you can stay “home” and enjoy the smorgasbord.
I did get several calls over the past few weeks about “cull bucks.” I guess some folks think I know what I’m talking about and I should be happy they’re easily mistaken like that. I do know a lot about “cull bucks” however and without equivocation, I have to tell them, “There’s no such thing as a cull buck in Delaware.”
That old wives tale about a spike buck staying a spike for life is just pure hogwash. The same goes with a small forkhorn or a spindly eight-pointer you have pass you. Let them walk.
Our deer herd has managed to expand faster than hunters can control them. Fields once hunted heavily now have asphalt streets, streetlights and fire hydrants in them. Though hunters can’t go there, nothing stops the deer from living there. Many of our more rural and established developments now serve as home to their own deer herds.
This small buck gets its inception from its mother having been a late birth fawn. When the major rut was taking place, she was too young, yet managed to come into estrus in February/March. Bucks without antlers are still bucks and mate readily anytime the opportunity avails itself. The young doe is now pregnant.
Gestation is around 200 days (6 2/3 months) and her buck fawn is born in August/September. The drive for survival is paramount and he never even gets the chance to grow a set of buttons. He’s half a year behind the other fawns of that year. Now comes the current year, and this late bloomer is sprouting a spindly set of antlers. Now it’s he who is half a year ahead of the current crop of fawns and he’s much bigger than they are, yet smaller than a 2-year-old buck would be. And he’s become a target.
Responsible hunters know this and let these guys go and grow for next year. Others looking for bragging rights take the small buck and then wonder why they never see “the big one.” My advice is that if it’s not big enough to hang over your fireplace, then take a doe or an antlerless fawn. Next year you won’t have to wonder about it being a “cull.”