Once a spike, always a spike? Not hardly. This one turned into a record-class deer.
The process of getting a whitetail from the button buck stage to the Boone and Crockett category is a mystical journey that includes a complex assortment of variables. It takes four basic ingredients to produce a buck with a 170-inch rack: age, genetics, habitat, and herd management.
I’ve been fortunate to hunt whitetails from New York to Texas to Saskatchewan, with many stops inbetween. I’ve also had the unique opportunity of raising whitetails and studying their behavior. My journey as a hunter, photographer and researcher has taught me a few things about deer. And one is that the size of a yearling’s antlers is seldom a predictor of what its antlers will be when it fully matures.
Too often, hunters feel they can tell a buck’s potential by the antlers it grows as a yearling. When I was a young man in the 1960s, many researchers felt that yearling spike bucks were genetically inferior, at least from an antler standpoint. Time has a way of changing people’s minds and we now know that it’s extremely difficult to tell a buck’s antler potential by the kind of antlers it grows as a yearling. The photos that accompany this essay help to illustrate and refute the old claim of “once a spike, always a spike.”
(Editor's Note: The late Charles Alsheimer originally compiled this story with photos for Realtree.com in October of 2013. To this day, it's one of the "most viewed" stories ever published on our website.)
You Might Also Like