The Outdoorsmans Guide To Forever Free

The Outdoorsmans Guide To Forever Free

Let’m Go, Let’m Grow

John J. Woods
Magnolia Outdoor Communications


In the business of consulting with landowners and hunting clubs, the biggest complaint I hear is that “We just don’t see any big deer.” Then, every year, when I monitor their harvest record books, most of what I see are young bucks being taken. There are always a few really nice bucks brought in, but by and large, the majority are 2-3 year old bucks with small to medium 6-8 point racks. So, why is that?

Bucks are like fine wine. Generally, the older they get, the better they get. That translates into bigger size and certainly bigger racks. Even then, it’s not an automatic thing. Your resident deer herd also has to have the genetics to produce really high quality bucks.

Growing big bucks also takes quality food, either in the forms of natural forage and browse, and/or supplemental food plots. I can toss a coin on supplemental feeding as is commonly done in some states like Texas. When the solar powered feeders go off, every deer within ear shot (ala Pavlov’s theory) comes running. Somehow that seems unnatural to me. I am for sure a fair chase kind of deer hunter.

So, you have to have genetics in your deer to produce good racks. You have to have good food for the deer to eat, the higher the protein the better, and water of course as a nutritional or dietary consideration. Then you have to have age. In all cases age is the single most important component to producing big racked bucks.

Even if, (and that is a huge IF) your deer have the innate genetics to grow big racks, they still will not likely do so to full potential until they reach an age factor of 5 plus years or more. This is not a hard science, as so many factors are involved in a whitetail buck growing a big antlered rack. Massive racks are almost an art form. Which is why we want them.

For deer hunters, landowners, deer managers, and club members then, restraint is the key when hunting and harvesting bucks. Truly the management style needs to be “let them go, to see them grow.” There is no hunting strategy that will improve genetics. Taking out so called “cull bucks” is generally just a poor excuse for making a mistake.

Here are a couple more things to ponder. Bucks born on your property will not stay there unless the buck was orphaned as a fawn. The bucks on your property came from somewhere else. Does contribute more to buck characteristics than bucks. Let your bucks grow to 4-5 years old and learn how to tell the difference on the hoof.

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