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What is a Cull Buck?

The term “cull buck” is thrown around hunter’s circles often, but many people still don’t understand exactly what the term means. Hunters and white-tail deer enthusiasts use the term often, as the topic is hot in those circles – which bucks are cull and which are not?

The most important point to remember when trying to determine a cull buck is that the term has become personal. That means that the term means something different to different people. By proper definition, a cull is a buck that is to be considered inadequate or inferior. It is not as good as its deer brethren. Cull bucks must be considered when a rancher or hunter is trying to determine which bucks to cull to improve the quality of the herd.

Deer antlers are very easily inherited between generations. A sire with perfect antlers will spread the perfection to his sons. Culling the herd eliminates bucks with less than perfect antlers, creating future generations with better genetic qualities.

Cull bucks have been deemed as genetically inferior to peers in the surrounding areas, which is why the term is personalized. Some ranchers or hunters might consider a buck superior in antler quality while another rancher would label the same deer as cull. This means that a cull buck in one person’s sight could be a perfect buck in another sight.

Cull bucks are hunted to reduce the percent of inferior deer in the herd. When the cull is eliminated, the “bad genes” are not passed on, and the herd improves in quality. While the term is personalized, there are certain qualities that every cull will have in common.

The cull needs to be judged against other bucks in the same area and in the same age range. If a great number of bucks at three years old have more than eight points, then bucks with seven or less points should be eliminated. At the same time, younger bucks with less than eight points may not be labeled cull bucks due to age. Some bucks are labeled cull due to tine length, missing tines or overall displeasing tines.

Culling happens when the bucks are young; it is typical for a deer to be labeled as cull and be eliminated from the herd by its third year. Hunters trying to improve the quality of the local herds will hunt cull deer for food, leaving descendants for trophies in later hunting seasons.