Mature bucks are part of a natural deer herd. When a balanced buck age structure is achieved, it ensures the social and biological mechanisms shaping deer populations are allowed to function properly. The density, sex ratio and age structure of a deer herd should mimic a population regulated by natural predators. This natural condition provides for a nutritionally and socially healthy herd, and it is only achieved when mature bucks are present.
In addition to the biological benefits, mature bucks provide excellent recreational opportunities for hunters. Sightings or trail-cam photos of mature bucks motivate more hunters and keep them afield longer. In addition, more mature bucks equal more rubs and scrapes for hunters to find, and hunters witness behaviors like sparring and chasing more often, and success rates with rattling and calling deer are higher.
Some key points to remember: Whitetail populations evolved with mature bucks. It is natural and extremely important. The social order of deer herds works best with mature bucks, and young bucks’ health and growth can be enhanced by the presence of mature bucks.
Hunters today are interested in older, larger bucks. Therefore, hunting interest increases when mature bucks are present. So, the next time you pass that two-and-a-half-year-old buck, just know you did your part to improve the health of the deer herd as well as increase your chance of taking a mature buck in the future.
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Heath Herje is an agriculture educator for Oklahoma Cooperative Extension Service in Cleveland County. He also writes on wildlife issues. He can be reached at 321-4774.