One of the bucks I shot last season; an old one with mediocre antlers.
That seems to the be the story all across Iowa this past year and
likely all across the Midwest.
We went to the Iowa Deer Classic this past weekend. At the time I left late in the afternoon Saturday, the biggest archery typical on the wall for 2013 was a net 163! There is nothing wrong with a net 163, and I am not sure what ended up winning, but it was clear that the buck wall was not going to be nearly as impressive as it is most years.
It is obvious that there are not as many big deer in the state as there have been in the past. I have some ideas on why this might be the case.
LESS BUCKS MEANS LESS BIG BUCKS
Simple numbers will support this one: when you have less bucks, there are going to be less big ones. That is simple. But there is more to it than that. When there are good numbers of bucks, everyone that wants to shoot one will have the chance and there are still many left over to grow a year bigger. That can really add up.
But I think there is even more to this year's lack of trophy output than just numbers.
MORE STRESS MEANS SMALLER BUCKS
Now lets take a look back over the past 18 months. We had a bad drought in the summer of 2012. That means there was less food going into the fall. That was certainly the case on my farm. Then you add a really hard winter in 2012/2013 and you have the makings for some stress on our deer. Finally, you throw in a really late spring and you have the final whammy.
Remember how late the spring was last year? We weren't greening up here in southern Iowa until late April and early May. That is nearly two months behind the time when green up occurs most years. The fact that nothing good was growing meant that the deer had to make do for a much longer time than normal.
Put it all together and it is not surprising that we weren't hunting bigger deer this year and that the Iowa Deer Classic had a very uninspiring buck wall. I think it was the case all across the Midwest. I didn't know anyone that was hunting a giant buck last season and most years I know of several - usually dozens.
The bucks just weren't there, or at least the ones that were there had not grown antlers that they otherwise would have with better early spring nutrition.
I will come back and dig into this some more, but that should be enough to at least get you thinking.