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Keywords:

  • antler restrictions;
  • nutritional stress;
  • Odocoileus virginianus;
  • selective harvest;
  • spike males;
  • white-tailed deer

ABSTRACT  We applied an 8-year selection process in an attempt to determine if yearling antler quality in subsequent cohorts could be improved by selecting for yearling male white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus) exhibiting relatively superior antler potential under suboptimal nutritional conditions. In 41 single-sire (breeding M) breeding herds, 217 yearling males were produced on an 8% protein diet of limited quantity. All antler measurements increased significantly (P < 0.001) during the study: number of points (+3.2), inside spread (+96.5 mm), main beam length (+129.1 mm), basal circumference (+21.6 mm), and total antler weight (+231.3 g). Furthermore, mean gross Boone and Crockett (GBC) score increased (P < 0.001) linearly throughout the study, with the GBC of the 1999 cohort exceeding that of the 1993 cohort by 36.4 in (923.0 mm). These data provide insight to the effectiveness of a selection process (i.e., culling) in an overall deer-management program.