There are no cull bucks; the trophy is in the eye of the beholder.
This is going to ruffle some feathers, so prepare yourselves. A spike is not a cull. That’s right, I said it. The word “cull” is completely, virally, and unequivocally tossed around the outdoor world like none other. It is passed around amongst uneducated hunters who tell another, who may be unfamiliar with our passion or new to the sport, and the snowball rolls on.
We used to think the world was flat and we used to believe, “once a spike, always a spike.” We also used to think you could influence the genetics of a free-ranging herd with culling techniques, but you can’t. There are too many variables in a whitetail’s life to add in an attempt at selective genetics.
Bucks shot for the purpose of “culling” will have no impact on a free-range gene pool or population.
If you spend enough time in the woods, you will see more younger and smaller-racked bucks than you will B&C-caliber bucks. It’s a simple fact. The mortality rate for male whitetail bucks is off the charts, and adding in the human factor of “culling” only hurts our own cause. The more deer in the upper level of the age structure, the better chance we all stand at taking home a “trophy.”
Most would have given up on this buck, but with age he grew into a considerable trophy for most any hunter.
Any attempt to “cull” a small buck, regardless of age or size, will be in vain. Hold out for a trophy, a buck you would be proud to take home. If you’re looking for meat to take home, then shoot a doe. There’s nothing more upsetting than a hunter who shoots a small buck, calls it a “cull,” and proceeds to say they needed meat for the freezer. These types of hunters take away from the rest who are dedicating their time and efforts in hopes of a true trophy.
We will all benefit if this word is simply eliminated “cull” from our hunting vocabulary. You will never know what a spike will become if you do not let him gain some age and see his true potential. While he may not reach world record status, he will become a trophy for someone out there.
All photos courtesy of Reese Johnson