Why Don’t We Just Let That Little Spike Grow Up?


Whitetailed Deer in Spring

Whitetailed Deer in Spring


{This is a continuation of (what I call): “The 10 Commandments of Spike Management” from the Texas Parks & Wildlife Dept. Please note: The intro and Commandment #1 are in Part 1.  These are their conclusions about ‘spike management’ – after considerable study.}

(2) “Nutrition does affect antler growth.” So, no matter what the deer’s ‘genetic potential,’ if there isn’t sufficient nutrition for the deer, antler growth will be affected.

(3) “Early or late birth does not affect antler development if deer receive adequate nutrition.” Essentially, a spike is a spike.  Earlier birthing did not turn a spike into an antlered deer. The only relation between the lateness of birth and antler production seems to be: If the deer is born late in the season, it may be nutritionally deprived because there is less forage. What nutrition is available is diverted to maintain and grow muscles — not antlers.

(4) “The majority of yearling spike bucks will produce smaller antlers and fewer points in following years than will fork-antlered deer.” Basically, they have proven that “what you see is what you’re gunna’ get.” Spikes seem to be a genetic trait that doesn’t improve over the years.

(5) “You can improve a herd by selectively removing inferior antlered deer and allowing the deer with good antlers to breed.” They asked the question: Could they remove the spikes and let the antlered deer reproduce? What would be the result?

By selectively reproducing with more-desirable traited (antlered) deer, something called “heritability” comes into play. The more desirable a trait is – the less likely there will be improvement. Obviously, fully-antlered deer are highly desirable – therefore, removing the spikes will not cause all of the new deer to have antlers. Production of antlers traits are passed from one generation to another, however.

(6) “Does provide half of the genetic potential for antler development.” Since scientists don’t know if a doe carries genes for antlers or spikes, they cannot “select-out” deer with spike genes.

(7) “Average yearling bucks on good range should have six points.” According to their research, with good nutrition, most bucks attain this desirable point. Even poor habitats produce antlered deer. By killing spikes, it allows the antlered deer to reproduce. However, most hunters prefer to haul home deer ‘with racks.’


This Series:

Part 1: Should I Shoot a Spike While Hunting White-Tailed Deer? (intro & item #1)

Part 2:  Why Don’t We Just Let That Little Spike Grow Up?  (items #2 thru #7)

Part 3:  What About Spikes While White-tail Deer Hunting?  (Commandments 8 thru 10, conclusions)

Part 4: “This Spike is Better Lookin’ than Any Ol’ 6 Point Deer! Sure it is.” (Conclusions)


This blog is a companion to my website:  GreatGhilliesAndGraphics.com