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Thread: Importance of does/hinds

  1. #1

    Importance of does/hinds

    This might be a stupid question but I am a total novice so be gentle. Basically the thing is I've been reading all I can and see that obviously there's a charge on specimen stags/bucks with some particularly good ones being left for breeding, but is the same thought put on the hinds/does? After all a lot of paid stalking gives unlimited stalking on the females so a really good example could be culled instead of being left for future breeding, surely the stag/buck is only half of the equation and an exceptional breeding pair would ensure better young for the future?

  2. #2
    There's actually very little reason to bother trying to select stags/bucks in wild populations.

    You've put your finger on one issue: maternal genes will be just as important as paternal.

    But that's just the beginning. For something like antlers (the usual trait of interest), the available evidence indicates that genes only account for about 10% of variation. Other things have a much greater effect, in particular year of birth (which affects conditions experienced during early growth and development); maternal condition at birth; conditions during the period of antler growth; and age.

    So: unless you know who both parents are (very hard without genetic testing), and can control for all the other variables, there is close to no point trying to select based just on male traits you see in front of you.

    You can help improve the conditions experienced by animals - for instance by lowering popukation density. And you may be able to remove obvious mutations by ruthless culling of those that express the trait (though that requires years of very systematic culling).

    The game changes substantially in semi-wild populations, with supplementary feeding and introduced males - but even then, can be a huge lottery. Sharkey off here seems to be the man who knows the most about this.

    From the point of view of the average UK roe deer stalker, there is absolutely no point in worrying about it.

  3. #3
    I'm, still, trying to get my head around the whole UK Stalking concept and, until I do, I reserve any and all judgment. All I can say, from experience, the method used in Germany, for decades, has seemed to work quite well. They try to maintain a one-to-one (male and female) ratio in all ages. The Hunters (Stalkers) there are encouraged to take the old, the lame, the obvious sick and obvious deformed animals first; again no matter what the age. There is no hunting during the Birthing Times and, after the Birthing Times one must ensure the female is not suckling; no orphans in the wild. This has lead to strong deer populations, in most places.

    Also, the Red Stags, in certain areas are restricted to no Class 1A. These are those with the perfect racks and a treble crown. The State of Hessen is one, I know of with this restriction.

    This kind of Game Management, I have not see in the UK, but, as I said, I am still trying to get my head around the UK ways, so, please, bear with me.

    Grant

  4. #4
    Mungo does that mean young from poor parentage could be a better specimen if birthed in favourable conditions than young from top class stuff in less than favourable conditions? Obviously theirs probably more to it but in theory.

  5. #5
    Quote Originally Posted by Timmy k View Post
    Mungo does that mean young from poor parentage could be a better specimen if birthed in favourable conditions than young from top class stuff in less than favourable conditions? Obviously theirs probably more to it but in theory.
    Yes - very much do. Environmental effects are frequently far more important than genetics. To put it extremely simplisticly indeed, there is no point worrying about genetics unless you can keep the environment constant (ie. the only way to really compare the effects of different genes is to make sure the animals carrying them are exposed to identical cobditions).

    We can more or less achieve this with farm animals, but do not even begin to come close with wild animals.

    Really - there is ABSOLUTELY no point worrying about genes if you're a recreational or even semi-pro stalker. I would also say this for pros, but they like to think they have magic ways to circumvent the laws of population genetics, so I'll stop there...

  6. #6
    The three things which are important to antler development are nutrition, age & genetics. Without genetics, age & nutrition mean nothing. Yes, the girls carry half the genetics & are harder to cull for antler genetics, but they can be culled for other objectives. As for red stags? Any stag missing any of the rights should be culled, same with other malformations. It takes many years of good management in wild deer to remove undesirable traits, but only a couple of seasons of poor management to see a centuries work undone.

    Sharkey
    "Men Who Stare at Deer."

  7. #7
    Well how about this and it may be totally of topic but whilst talking of genetics this maybe relevant, a good few years ago I watched a documentary on red stags and when the rut was on a poor stag with malformed antlers was winning battles because of the deformity as it was spearing the bigger stags in the neck if I remember right, now this would be a cull on a managed estate but what if it's natures intention for these deformities to be passed on creating a sub species if you like. And although I understand malformed antlers can be caused through injury to testicles and such like is it not possible the deformities could not be deformities at all?

  8. #8
    A lot is to do with body weight and overall condition a big switch can keep a hareem from a better headed stag but if you grass him he's usually also a big animal . a heavy stag seldom runs from a lighter stag just because he's got a stabbing tine usually they are so full on that the better headed stag just gets stabbed in the heat of the battle and either wins or loses, I,ve had stags win against a big switch and then collapse , a tine having entered the skull like a bullet hole between the antlers. I would suggest if a switch stag wins a contest it will have more to do with his weight , vim and vigour. Antler quality can vary between years with a head progressing steadily and then having a poor year and stronger again the following year. So selecting on antler size is not that productive although I would say selection based on antler style has merit. And yes the genetic side resides equally with the hinds and it's very difficult to influence if at all in a wild situation the best you can aim for is select against poor condition and try not to remove the lead hind unless you can clear the whole family group up at the same time.

  9. #9
    Quote Originally Posted by Timmy k View Post
    Well how about this and it may be totally of topic but whilst talking of genetics this maybe relevant, a good few years ago I watched a documentary on red stags and when the rut was on a poor stag with malformed antlers was winning battles because of the deformity as it was spearing the bigger stags in the neck if I remember right, now this would be a cull on a managed estate but what if it's natures intention for these deformities to be passed on creating a sub species if you like. And although I understand malformed antlers can be caused through injury to testicles and such like is it not possible the deformities could not be deformities at all?
    Like fallow, red deer have been strongly selected by game managers for many centuries. Red deer & fallow haven't truly been domesticated, but their phenotype (particularly the antlers) have been strongly influenced by man. Even the wildest red deer in Europe is now the product of this long term management. Stags have been culled for centuries on antler conformation, & the basic principle is that the "rights" are more important than the tops or crowns. However a 3 yo stag with well developed rights & no tops should also be on the cull plan.

    It has taken centuries to produce good true breeding phenotypes in red deer (don't get me started on hybrids within the "red deer" species). It only takes one year of a recessive stag breeding to undo decades of work & a few seasons to undo centuries.

    I have watched deer for long enough now to know that even red stags can measure up a rivals antlers & recognise malformations. A dominant stag still must fight these switch/killer stags to fill the hinds, but some can adjust their technique & be successful against them (if you watch some stags will fight with their antlers at different angles & heights to correspond to an opponents antlers). Another thing to consider in this discussion s that the girls get to have some "sexual selection" too, red hinds can be recalcitrant if she does not favour a stag. Fallow does are very selective of the bucks they stand for & the palmated antlers can play a similar function to a peacocks tail in this species. Chital the same, although its "front on" displays rather than "side on" like fallow. Sambar are again a confound, as they try to hide their antlers from receptive hinds, they are very different to other cervids in mating strategies, & the hinds can exercise a great deal of choice in deciding to stand for a stag or not.


    Sharkey
    Last edited by sharkey; 10-08-2015 at 00:27.
    "Men Who Stare at Deer."

  10. #10
    Sorry but what's a switch, and which part of the antlers are rights, tops and crown. Other wise very informative answers ( just don't know what half of it means ha ha)

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