Would you do it?
I'm lucky to have a very nice piece in Kentucky of about 250 acres to hunt. It's a 50/50 mix of woods and swamplands and it's all completely surrounded by agriculture (corn this year) totalling perhaps another 1,000 acres. There are only something like 4 or 5 houses for about 1.5 miles in the area and it's a very rural area. I hear almost as many horse-drawn wagons as cars go by while hunting.
Anyway, as you might guess, it's a very good area and has proved fruitful for us over the last 5-6 yrs. There are normally some nice big bucks shown on our cameras before the seasons start. Well, last season I ended up with a serious dilemma and I was wanting some opinions as to what you all might have done.
I missed opening weekend due to another hunt I had planned in Indiana (I lucked into a nice deer there) and did not hunt Kentucky until about Thursday of opening week. On my 2nd or 3rd day out, having seen no big bucks thus far, I had a buck chase a doe right by (actually to) my stand location. As he got closer I noticed something odd about his antlers.
When they got close and stopped right close by I could see his antlers were deformed & unusual looking. He was obviously a mature buck, but both sides were pretty small and one side was badly deformed. And there he was, chasing and trying to breed a doe right in front of me. I realized I'd already also seen him at least once before at a distance, but had no shot and could not make his rack out well enough that time anyway to use my single buck tag on him.
So, my dilemma? Should I use my lone buck tag (license was $190) on this sub-standard buck so he would not breed any more does, or simply let him walk and wait for a nice mature racked deer. I did not want the deer and had not shot a buck that small in many years. But, there he was about to breed within "our" local population and perhaps spread those non-desirable genes even further.
Again, he was a large bodied deer and mature, simply had a genetically inferior rack. Not broken, simply bad formation to the extreme. My question is would you use your one tag to try and keep the genes from being spread throughout your hunting area, or simply let him walk?
My decision? I waited until he was almost out of sight in the brush before doing what I finally decided was the "right" thing and taking him with my Marlin .375. That decision has since kept me awake for many nights and I'd simply like some feedback on what some of you would have done in that situation. My decision may have been helped along since I'd already harvested a nice Tn 8 pnt in muzzleloader season and a brute of an 11 pnt in Indiana, before whacking this one. But it sure didn't help knowing I had no more buck hunting to look forward to for the rest of Kentucky's seasons.
Your opinions, please! Thanks.