Effect of Fawning Date on Physical Development in Yearling Male White-tailed Deer

Antler measurements, weights, and estimated ages were collected from 529 male white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus) harvested on the Campfield Hunt Club, Georgetown County, South Carolina, from 1984 to 1989. Yearlings (N = 216) were aged ≤17, 18, or ≥19 months of age according to premolar wear and replacement patterns. The 4-month hunting season was divided into 3 periods to test for differences in weight and antler development between the ≤17- and ≥19-month-old age groups. Mean number of points and mean weights of ≥19-month-old deer harvested during the first and second periods were greater (P < 0.05) than those of ≤ l7-month-old deer from any period. Mean antler spread of ≥19-month-old deer collected during the first period was greater than all ≤ 17-month-old deer. Percent spikes ranged from a low of 36.4% and 28.6% in ≥ 19-month-old deer harvested during the first and second periods, respectively, to a high of 83.9% and 81.2% in ≤ l7-month-old deer collected during the second and third periods, respectively. Management strategies that emphasize lower population density, balanced sex ratio, and an older male structure may increase the quality of the yearling male age class.

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