"A spike's a spike"


November 26, 2012, 09:11 AM
I heard this statement this past weekend when I stopped at the local convenience store to grab a snack after hunting.

I was hunting a new stand Saturday morning and had a small spike walk into one of my shooting lanes. Now, when I say small I truly mean it. I couldn't see antlers until I put the scope on him and he wasn't more than 50yds. away (if he'd been a doe he'd have been dinner that night :D). The longer of his two antlers was barely the length of one of his ears.

Fast forward to that afternoon/evening. I'm at the store talking to one of the regulars and I'm telling him about this spike and the other deer that I saw that day and his response is, "A spike's a spike and always will be." I'd never heard that before and am wondering how much truth there is to it. I'm trying to get the herd where I hunt to be healthier by implementing some QDM practices, so I'm not opposed to culling bucks if needed. If spikes will remain spikes for life, I'll gladly shoot everyone I see and donate them to the local chapter of Hunters for the Hungry.

Does anyone know how valid that statement was? I've never heard it before, but I've also never heard the opposite.

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November 26, 2012, 09:25 AM
Ignorant statement. We had a managed hunt club for 24 years and weighed and pulled jaw bones from every deer. Very seldom did we find a mature spike. However, a very high percentage of spikes killed were 1 1/2 yrs. old over 90%. Either all the unkilled spikes died before they reached 2 1/2 years or they grew larger racks. You can draw your own conclusion.

November 26, 2012, 09:38 AM
No a spike is not a spike................He did not know what he was talking about !

November 26, 2012, 09:51 AM
I hear that every year. While a 5 year old cowhorn spike is probably a genetic issue, a 60 pound yearling spike will most likely develop a rack just like any other buck. I have a friend with a high fence and EVERY spike he has raised has developed a rack in year 2.

I personally think the spikes occur because those fawns were born later in the year and their antlers did not start developing as early as the 4 or 6 pointers but that is a guess.

Art Eatman
November 26, 2012, 11:25 AM
Sounds like two different things, here. A very young buck, just out of his spots, can have little nubs; "spikes". He commonly will grow real antlers as he matures.

Then there is the fully matured buck with spikes, and it's likely that he will always be a spike.

So the guy at the store could have been talking about a mature spike, and was not necessarily wrong.

Some forty years back, when I moved back to the old family ranch which had never been hunted, I found way too many deer. Some mature spikes, some with little "scraggle horns". I culled heavily for some three years. Got those genes out of the pool and within four years the problem was pretty well gone. Body weight average went up quite nicely, and the bucks had decent racks.

November 26, 2012, 11:35 AM
This was definitely NOT a mature deer. I'm glad that I didn't shoot him. Hoepfully he'll make it through the season and grow a decent rack in the years to come.

November 26, 2012, 12:52 PM
That's bunk. 1-2 year olds have spikes, or small forks (making them a "4 pointer" or "2x2") and the next year they'll be growing them out into 6 points or 3x3, or 7 or 8 points, etc. Generally they get a bigger rack each year until they hit full maturity. At some point some old bucks will grow racks comparable or slightly smaller than the previous year...around here in the North East; I think they generally get Lyme disease or get hit by a car before then.

This guy, whom i've called "Biggy Shorty" all summer, was born in our field on April 24th. He was around all summer munching on our flowers, and managed to get into the vegetable garden and eat and trample everything. Had to be let out the gate...


I took him last weekend because he just won't leave, despite my dog barking at him all the time. His body is the size of any mature doe, and most bigger bucks in the area, so I concluded that his rack would never be a trophy, comparatively speaking, for this area. Had he had 12" spikes instead of 5", i might have suffered his munching for a few more years.

As i type this i'm eating him. Terriyaki venison jerky is a big hit.

November 26, 2012, 12:57 PM
This is one of those statements that is false MOST of the time but not always. There are some whitetail deer that because of injury or genetics wont ever be more than a spike or forkhorn. Though not common these do exist.

November 26, 2012, 01:01 PM
I have already seen two young spikes this year with spikes about 5-6" long. I have seen a 4 pointer with roughly the same body size that has forks at the end of 5-6" spikes. I doubt that the 4 point is genetically superior to the spikes. I had a very young 8 pointer, what we would call a "basket" rack walk under my stand on Saturday and one of the spikes was right behind him. The 8 pointer was a 1 1/2 yr old deer that probably was 120# on the hoof while the spike was probably an 8 month old deer, 80#s or so. The cull buck I shot this year weighed right over 120# dressed and I aged him as a 2 year old.
Let them walk like you did and it will be pretty easy to tell in a year or two whether or not he has some genetic deficiency that causes him to be a spike. In 40 years of hunting the critters I have seen a handful of mature spikes including one that weighed over 250# which is monstrous where I hunt. A friend shot him several years ago and he was torn up from fighting. From the looks of him he was the dominant buck in the area despite being a spike. He was aged at 7 yrs old and we had never seen him before the day he was shot.

November 26, 2012, 02:55 PM
Ask him if 10 pointers produce 10 point racks at 1.5 years

around here they are button or nubbin bucks up until Dec of their first year and then the horns break the skin. They stay spikes usually until 1.5 years.

November 26, 2012, 08:07 PM
Hunt club I was in, 5" or longer spikes, kill it. Less, let it go. That was the rule. I just figured they based that on the 5" or longer being mature and probably undesirable as a breeding buck.

Art Eatman
November 26, 2012, 08:45 PM
The buck pictured above is what we always called a "yearling". A real spike buck, in my crowd of hunters, was fully mature, 2-/12 or 3-1/2 years if not more and spikes commonly ten or twelve inches or even more.

November 26, 2012, 10:12 PM
This was a pretty big deer, probably over 160 hanging weight. Barely a fork.

November 28, 2012, 10:20 AM
Here is a link to a Texas state site. http://www.tpwd.state.tx.us/huntwild/wild/game_management/deer/age/

The part the OP may want to look at is a little more than halfway down where they have a picture showing the sheds from three individual deer.

To the right are complete sets of antlers from three different deer. They are arranged from the yearling set at the bottom to the oldest set at the top. All deer were fed an unlimited 16% protein diet and were reared at the Kerr Wildlife Management Area deer pens. The set on the left were from a ten point yearling that grew into a 18 point adult. The set in the middle were from an 8 point yearling that remained an eight point throughout its life. The set on the right were from a spike antlered yearling that grew to a eight point adult.

November 28, 2012, 10:30 AM
By the way, I took two bucks this year. One was a 4 1/2 year old 5x5. The other was a 3 1/2 year old with barely formed forks.

It is interesting that racks don't always translate to dominance. I've watched a mature forked horn deer chase away other, more impressive looking, males during the rut.

November 28, 2012, 10:55 AM
In this area a mature spike or cow horn is extremely rare. The vast majority of spikes are yearlings. And no , they don't stay that way very often.

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