Selection for Antler Points and Body Weight in White-Tailed Deer

Body weight and antler measurements collected from pen-reared white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus) on the Kerr Wildlife Management Area, Hunt, Texas, indicated that yearling bucks with <6 antler points are genetically inferior for both antler development and body weight. Simple correlation coefficients for body weight and total antler points were 0.59, 0.51, and 0.48 at 1.5, 2.5, and 3.5 years, respectively (P < 0.0001). The regression coefficients for body weight (kg) on number of antler points at 1.5, 2.5, and 3.5 years of age for 60 deer were 2.47, 1.71, and 2.36 kg/point, respectively. Number of antler points at 2.5 and 3.5 years of age was dependent on number of antler points developed by the same deer at 1.5 and 2.5 years. These data suggest that when white-tailed deer are provided, ad libitum, a pelleted 16% protein ration, simply removing spike bucks does not provide sufficient selection intensity for substantial genetic improvement in herd antler quality and body weight. Six antler points seems to be a good criterion for identifying inferior/superior bucks through the first 3 breeding seasons.

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