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  1. #1
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    Spike elk hunts. What's the reasoning?

    Being from the southeast and whitetail country, we hear a lot about quality deer management. It's core principles are overall herd health through proper nutrition, keeping the sex ratio balanced, and keeping deer numbers within the carrying capacity of the land. Trophy class mature males are a by product of this system but also one of the main goals of most people who practice QDM. Doe harvest to meet carrying capacity and to balance sex ratios and protection of young males so that a large portion of males reach maturity are 2 of the most common things done.

    So my question is why hold spike hunts in trophy units or in any units for that matter? It seems to go against the idea of protecting young males so they can reach maturity. Less young bulls will mean less mature bulls in the future. Could someone shed some light on this?

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    The idea is to provide some opportunity to hunters and control the bull-to-cow ratio in a highly desired unit. Bulls that make it past year one are protected until harvest, which is typically late in life in those units.

    It seems counterproductive, but isn't. Montana's single best elk tag has had spike-only hunting on a general tag for decades and continues to offer a second-to-none hunting experience to those lucky enough to draw the trophy tag in that district.

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    Washington does this in a few units too and they explained it to me similar to BB's explanation. I dont think many spikes get taken on the general spike tag and I dont think there are alot of bulls or elk in general really in the area. i spent 5 days there and never saw an elk, but that monster double drop tine bull in the latest elk hunter mag is from the same area so maybe Im just blind.

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    To go along with what has already been stated I interpret your question to be related to a difference from hunting the south (generally, but not an all inclusive statement) to out west (ditto) in what hunting season looks like. I only know what I have seen on t.v. about whitetail hunting but I'm picturing a lot of private property that land owners are managing the populations and managing the amount of people hunting. I looks like there is more private control of deer populations. The spike units out west are generally on land that is public land open to anyone and if there is no regulation put on the hunt not very many animals will be able to grow to the trophy class.There are just too many people hunting and most hunters will shoot the first animal they see. I'm not claiming to know southern hunting but this is the impression I get-I could be way off.
    All Work And No Play Is No Good At All

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    It seemed counterproductive to me. Biology is rarely simple though. I posed this same question last fall to a guy that I met while hunting in NE. The guy worked as a guide on a CWMU ranch in Utah and was very knowledgeable about mule deer and elk. He said the same thing about balancing the sex ratio and hunter opportunity. He explained for balanced sex ratios in deer you need 30+ bucks per 100 does, while elk only 15-20 bulls per 100 cows. Bucks only tend 1 doe at a time, pretty much the whole time she is in estrous. So it takes more bucks to ensure that all of the does that come into heat at the same time are bred in a timely manner. This ensures that all the fawns are born together, thereby limiting predator loss. Bull elk are much different in that they tend whole harems and will breed many cows in just a few days if they come into heat. That's the way he explained it to me. He said they would never shoot spikes on the ranch. They just hold management hunts for the bulls that are mature but don't meet their trophy standards.

    I was just curious to what your thoughts were. It seemed illogical to shoot young bulls to me. Thanks for the replies.
    Last edited by Alabama; 02-16-2014 at 01:51 AM.

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    heres a question...... Do all bull elk start out as a spike?

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    Quote Originally Posted by ivorytip View Post
    heres a question...... Do all bull elk start out as a spike?
    No, I have seen many "spikes" that branch on the top. I have several on trail camera pics, I will try to dig them up and post one of them.
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    Severe winter kills and public hunting in the North/NW kind of make QDMA principles hard to apply.

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    reason i asked the "spike" question is ive allways heard both sides, from hunters and bios. had one guy tell me that a bull that has the genes of becoming a monster bull will never be just a spike, but start as a small rag horn. as long as ive been hunting elk i feel foolish for asking this but its one of those things you just dont know unless ya know, ya know?

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    IT has been my belief that forked horn bulls and spike bulls are from the same calf crop. That being said taking a few spikes and leaving the forked horn may be a way of culling the bulls assuring the better genetically strong bulls build the herd.

 

 

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