Info provided by Randy Wood, Georgia DNR Wildlife Technician
Check out this photo. The buck on the top-left was caught on a trail camera in 2012. If you take a look at the rack, it “appears” to be of a lower quality. Many hunters today would consider the deer to be a “cull.”
This buck was 20 yards broadside from a hunter at one point in 2012. It was scrutinized as a potential “cull,” however the hunter passed it up.
Flash forward to 2013. Once again, on the same private property, the buck was caught on a camera less than 50 yards from the camera that caught it in 2012 (you can see the 2013 photo on the top-right). Most hunters would deem the 2013 version a quality buck! Two days later, and less than 300 yards from the camera on private property, the buck was harvested on Ocmulgee WMA’s archery only area, as can be seen in the bottom photo.
Not every deer that hunters deem a “cull” can be attributed to genetic factors. This same deer grew a fine rack the following year! Very seldom are single-sided antler malformations related to genetics, but rather the result of injury or disease. When the buck was passed up in 2012, the hunter noted that there appeared to be an injury around the hip/pelvic region. When the deer was harvested in 2013, there was a visible spot of an old injury resembling the description from 2012.
Keep in mind, deer antlers can often be impacted by injuries rather than genetics. So, perhaps we all need to think twice before ”culling” a buck based on antler malformations. In addition, no amount of culling will impact herd genetics, positively or negatively.