Title:  Predicting Gross Boone and Crockett Scores and Live Body Mass at Ages 2.5, 3.5 and 4.5 Years in White-tailed Deer on the Basis Years' Antler Characteristics and Body Mass
Author(s): James R. Ott, John Baccus, Scott Roberts, Paul Hendrix, Ronnie Kirchof and Lin Poor, SW Texas State University; and Donnie Harmel, Eugene Fuchs and William Armstrong, Texas Parks and Wildlife Department
Year: 1999
Abstract: The relationship between antler characteristics of yearling white-tailed deer and bucks in later age classes is poorly understood for free-ranging white-tailed deer. Nevertheless, a number of state wildlife agencies are now "experimenting" with management schemes that entail selective harvest of yearling white-tailed bucks based on variation in antler characteristics. Management schemes such as that recently imposed in Arkansas protect yearlings with relatively poor antler growth and are predicated on the assumption of no relationship between yearling antler characteristics and the antler characteristics of bucks in later age classes. This assumption requires that yearlings with relatively poor antler growth exhibit compensatory growth in subsequent age classes and thus "catch up" with those yearling males (unprotected) that exhibited superior antler growth. Here we examine the role of (a) yearling gross Boone & Crockett scores (GBC) and (b) yearling body weights on GBC scores, GBC components, and body weights at ages 2.5, 3.5, and 4.5 years. This analysis reveals that, for our study population, (a captive herd reared on a high protein diet), GBC scores, GBC components, and body weights are highly correlated within and among years. On this basis we developed simple linear models to predict GBC scores, GBC components, and weights at ages 2.5, 3.5, and 4.5 based on yearling GBC scores, weight, or both. Our results show that GBC scores and weights at every subsequent age class are accurately predicted by yearling GBC score and provide no evidence for compensatory antler growth in yearlings with low GBC scores.

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