1. Every Buck Has a Shot
For those who were never the Big Stud of their high school crowd, listen to this. It seems that even in whitetails, “Junior” can do a little breeding. A study detailed in the Journal of Mammology conducted in Texas, Oklahoma and Mississippi, used DNA sampling rather than empirical observations of deer herds to determine genetic paternity. And, when it comes to mating patterns, the study found that among whitetails, every buck has a shot at contributing to the next generation. This study found that physically immature males 1½- to 2½-years of age fathered 30 to 33 percent of offspring in the populations examined—even where larger, mature males were present. The study sampled 1,219 deer from those three scattered populations. Total DNA was taken from either blood or ear-tissue samples, but antler material was also gathered and processed.
Three “captive populations” were studied from the Noxubee National Wildlife Refuge in Mississippi, the King Ranch in Texas and the Noble Foundation Wildlife Unit in Oklahoma. Researchers say they provided different demographic makeups due to long-term differences in harvest and herd management. One location allowed public hunting, while another was more restrictive, using herd thinning as a management technique. Those differences made for a more diverse demographic, which made it easier to evaluate adult sex ration and male age structure on reproductive success.
Full story: Six Things You Didn’t Know About Whitetails