How to Grow Body-Builder White-Tailed Bucks
The Three Most-Critical Ingredients for Growing Big Bucks
Editor’s Note: Do you want monster bucks on your property? Would you like to have bigger bucks to hunt every season? Well, here's the formula that will produce your heart's desire. As a youngster with a stomach ache, I'd willingly do almost anything to get rid of the pain. However, when my mother came toward me with a bottle of bad-tasting medicine, I didn't know if the medicine would taste worse than my stomach ache hurt. The remedy to harvesting nothing but small bucks on your property may leave a bad taste in your mouth, but it will solve your problem. To produce quality bucks through management, everything about the way you hunt and the way you manage your land must change. A professional body builder doesn't enter a contest, if he hasn't eaten the right food 6 weeks to 3 years before the contest. To have muscles that look like mountains and to meet the full potential of his frame, the body builder must consume the best foods all year long for several years. And, if you want to produce bucks that can win awards for big bodies and large antlers, you must understand what the deer need to eat and how to supplement their diets to insure they receive the proper nutrition.
Many of the same principles that mean trophies and cash prizes for body builders can produce Boone and Crockett bucks for you, if you know how, when, what and where to feed your deer. “The two most-critical ingredients to grow big bucks on any property are plenty of high-quality food and age," says Rick Claybrook, a wildlife biologist for the State of Alabama . "The third ingredient landowners most commonly discuss when attempting to produce trophy bucks is genetics, which is only an important factor when you raise deer in a pen. The sportsmen who attempt to manage genetics in a wild herd will try to remove bucks from the herd that demonstrate some genetic imperfections, because they can see those imperfections in the deer's antlers and/or body size. However, 50% of the genetics that a fawn receives comes from the doe, and there's no way to determine the genetically-superior or genetically-inferior does within a wild herd." Many deer herds in various parts of the country have the genetic potential to yield quality bucks. But no one can manage a wild herd for genetics; therefore, you need to put genetics at the bottom of your list of importance in growing big bucks in the wild.
If we're going to produce a Mr. America body-builder buck, we'll have to serve him all the nutrition required to build strong bones and muscles. However, when he sits down to eat and discovers 12-other brothers, sisters, cousins, uncles and aunts sitting at the same table with him and eating all the food we've prepared just for him, the young buck can't get enough nutrition to put on the body mass and muscles that he needs to become a Mr. America buck. When you're considering growing bigger bucks on your property, remember, the fewer mouths at the table, the more food each mouth gets. In many areas, a hunter must reduce the number of deer on the property he hunts to insure that the land has enough food for the bucks to grow to their maximum potential each season. The fewer deer you have on the property, and the more food those deer have, the bigger the bucks can grow. Dr. Grant Woods of Reeds Spring , Missouri , nationally-known deer nutritionist and wildlife biologist, reports, "The system of deer management that I often recommend first to hunters and landowners is called trigger-finger management. On many properties that are overpopulated, I suggest that the hunters go on a buck diet and a doe feast by using their trigger fingers to reduce the size of the herd, especially the size of the reproductive segment (the doe)." Without reducing the amount of mouths at the table, you can't grow a body-builder buck.
To learn more about Dr. Grant Woods, visit www.deermanagement.net.
Tomorrow: More Tactics for Better Deer Management