Sex determination becomes important especially when bucks are the only legal quarry. When population levels are not up to par, hunters are allowed to take antlered deer only. Quite often the hunter shoots a deer thinking it is a buck and finds it was actually a doe. Many of these animals are purposely left to decay. This is a situation which is usually preventable. The hunter who has made this mistake has usually done so through neglect. In most cases he has simply not paid enough attention, while in others he has gotten impatient and trigger-happy.
On the other hand, sometimes looking for antlers can cost you a trophy because it is only at the last moment that the rack of a deer becomes visible.
The hunter should understand that he is not expected to kill every deer he sees and that missing a chance at a shot because he was cautious is never a failure. The deer will be there next time.
Antlers are not always conspicuous. Deer horns often blend in with the brush so well that they cannot be easily seen. It is sometimes necessary to make a rather swift scan over a group of approaching deer to determine which deer are of which gender. In such scans the shape of the body is the first consideration. Bucks and does are shaped differently. The doe is elegantly shaped as a rule. Normally she is shorter in height and in length than her male counterpart. She is smaller in comparison. Her head is more streamlined and not designed to support heavy antlers. A big physique, swollen neck, squared-off body, and of course, a pair of antlers obviously spells b.u.c.k.
The neck of a buck, especially during the rut, is greatly enlarged. The neck of a buck increases in diameter as much as ten inches immediately before the breeding cycle and stays that way until it ends. Glandular changes in hormones produce the swelling. The swelling is designed to make the buck's neck stronger as he uses his antlers in fighting other bucks for does to breed in the natural selection of the fittest breeding animals to produce future generations.
The difference in the general outline and shape of bucks and does will become more obvious the more experience one has in the field. The comparison is easily made when the two are spotted side-by-side.
Occasionally there are mature antlerless bucks. Bucks without antlers are generally either very young or very old. Castration produces antlerless bucks. Hormonal imbalances produce the antlered does.
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Article Added on Monday, November 3, 2008
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