A successful all-around deer-hunting season, but where did all the bucks go?

Although she enjoyed a successful season, the author said bucks were few and far between on the property.

Well, it’s officially time to say goodbye to the 2017-18 deer season. The buck I killed (the first buck for me since 2010) might not have been wall-worthy to some, but to me, he was a bonafied stud. And the doe I shot – well, let’s just say that the snack sticks and jerky are delicious.

Our son, Brady, who is 12, also got his first deer in 2017, which was an epic event in our house. Originally, he thought it was a doe, but upon “closer inspection,” he learned that he had indeed killed a button buck. Like his mom, though, he could have cared less whether the antlers were mere nubs, a giant spread, or nothing at all. My kid was proud as a turkey in full strut to put his first deer down. He decided to get a European skull mount dipped in an American Flag pattern. What can I say? We’re as die-hard when it comes to patriotism as we are when it comes to deer hunting in our house.

As far as the number of deer I saw this year, it’s hard to say. Since I tagged out by mid-November, I didn’t hunt the rest of the season. To be honest, our trail cams and in-field observations this year didn’t prove to be very promising. There definitely wasn’t near the number of bucks that we’ve seen roaming around our property during the previous few years. In fact, it was kind of depressing.

During the 2015-16 and 2016-17 seasons, we had an abundance of bucks, especially 1.5- and 2.5-year-olds. I would have even gone so far as to say that the herd on our land was oddly skewed towards bucks. At the time, we’d hoped the high numbers meant promising seasons to come. Unfortunately, it seems like we had fewer bucks this year than we have had in quite a while. As far as the number of does and yearlings, I would say the population is holding its own, but not really growing either. Now, the primary critter showing up in our post-season trail cam photos are coyotes. I guess it’s time to get out the rifles.

Unlike those past several years, one thing I did notice this season was the lack of emails from hunters informing me that they saw fewer deer. I’m hoping that means that the populations in certain areas are starting to recover and not that some hunters have just plain given up.

I did get an email recently from a reader who has kindly kept me updated for many years on his observations concerning herd numbers where he hunts. He told me that he had so few sightings this season that, when he finally did have an opportunity to shoot a doe, he didn’t feel like it was responsible of him, as a hunter, to take the shot. Like me, my friend mentioned that he wishes that the unlimited doe tags would cease, at least for a season or two, and then see where we’re at. “It’s very easy to forget to make changes in moderation and then regret it later. Let’s hope that’s not the case,” he told me.

I couldn’t agree more.

Now, let’s get the shed hunting and gobbler chasing parties started!

Categories: Bloggers on Hunting, Illinois – Keri Butt, Whitetail Deer

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