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Can you tell the gender of a deer by their droppings?

Question
Can you tell the sex of a deer by their dropings?

Also can you tell a buck fawn from a doe fawn at a 100 yards?

Gary,

Researchers have shown that the shape, color, size, etc., of a deer’s droppings don’t accurately indicate the deer’s gender.  

It would be very difficult to determine if a fawn was a male or female at 100 yards and depends the maturity of the fawn, etc.

Enjoy creation,

grant

March 2, 2016

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Can body injuries impact a whitetail buck’s antler growth?

Question
I’ve heard and read that antler growth may be affected by any injuries a buck may have sustained in the past. My question is, if a buck does sustain an injury to the body, how will it affect antler growth? AND, will antler growth be affected ONLY during the year of the injury, or will it continue after antlers are shed and again be affected the next season, or even for the rest of his life?

Rob,

There has been research that showed body injuries can impact a buck’s antler growth.  Usually injuries that damage nerves result in larger changes to antler growth. Injuries behind the shoulder often impact antler growth on the opposite side as the wound.  For example an injury to the rear left leg will often result in a non typical growth of the right antler.  

Injuries in front of the shoulders tends to impact the antler on the same side!  If damage to the nerve is permanent than the antler will tend to be non typical throughout the remainder of the buck’s life.

Enjoy creation,

grant 

February 24, 2016

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Does providing supplemental feed to deer offer more advantages than disadvantages?

Question
On Sun, Feb 21, 2016 at 1:31 AM, randal chappell wrote:

Dr. Woods,

For years the Alabama legislature has been trying to pass bills allowing deer hunting over bait. In recent years the bills were labeled as supplemental feeding to assist landowners with distance and out of sight restrictions. I believe they were targeted to actual baiting which is now evident as this year House bill 43 and Senate bill 62 have no restrictions other than one will not be allowed to simply pour the bait out on the ground and bait is explicitly stated. This follows the Alabama Conservation Advisory Board finally allowing \’supplemental feeding\’ with distance and out of sight requirements beginning this past hunting season. These two bills would also allow baiting of feral swine, and while it may seem contradictory, I would support baiting hogs since they are an invasive and destructive species.

I have fought this for several years with multiple letters to state legislators, wildlife officials, and our governor as well as speaking before the Conservation Advisory Board and senate Agriculture, Conservation, and Forestry committee. I have found many studies which point to more cons than pros concerning supplemental feeding which includes increased risk of disease transmission, habitat destruction in immediate area, and increased predator presence in the area which can affect non target species as well. While I have put out corn before in front of trail cameras in the off season, I now find myself hesitant to do so and question the safety of feeding even if done properly by professional wildlife managers.

As I see you and others on videos feeding I can see where this may be beneficial to the deer herd\’s health if done properly, but still worry about the possible con\’s (primarily disease transmission) involved. Supplemental feeding may be OK, but I feel sitting on a pile of bait is unethical and I know for a fact from conversations with non hunting friends that the public sees this practice as unethical and distasteful as well. I can with a clear conscience hunt over food plots and explain them to others because of the nature of the food being more natural as it is in its growing state from the ground and it is dependant upon rain and proper growing conditions provided by our Heavenly Father. Since fields are spread over a larger area, the risk of disease is much less. Also, fields still benefit wildlife after the hunting season is over. Some would most likely spend their money on bait rather than fields and then after the season the wildlife would have less. The non hunter can see this when taught.

I would very much appreciate your thoughts on this subject as well as the studies done which show this in a negative light. I enjoy your informative website and videos and value your professional opinion. Hoping you can ease my worries on the cons of supplemental feeding.

Sincerely,

Randal R. Chappell

234 Willow Park Dr.

Hayden, Al. 35079

Randal,

Your question was very well written!  

I agree with you that there can be both advantages and disadvantages to supplemental feeding.  

Both research and experience show that supplemental feeding can result in increased body weights, antler size, and fawn recruitment (number of fawns surviving to six months of age).  Feeding can allow predators to pattern deer easier, etc.  

There’s no doubt that supplemental feed can cause deer to be in close proximity and have physical interaction.  However deer are extremely social and have regular physical interaction.  The two diseases that have attracted the most attention with regards to feeding is tuberculosis and CWD. Tuberculosis in deer is limited to a relatively small area.  So let’s focus on CWD.   The pertinent question seems to be “Does supplemental feeding cause additive (more) physical interaction (expedite the spread of CWD) or is this interaction compensatory with normal behavior.”  

To my knowledge the highest incidence of CWD is on National Forest lands in Wyoming and Colorado where the use of supplemental feed and minerals have been prohibited for decades.  In this case CWD spread rapidly without the presence of supplemental feed.  There is more supplemental feed used over a larger area in Texas than anywhere else.  Throughout the vast majority of Texas CWD hasn’t been detected.  Many universities maintain captive deer for research and most of these deer are totally depending on supplemental feed due to the small size of the research facilities (pens).  I’m not aware of a single deer that’s had CWD in any of these facilities.  

It certainly appears supplemental feeding isn’t the primary cause of the spread of CWD and likely doesn’t cause this disease to spread faster based on large scale observations.  

Citizens clearly enjoy feeding deer, birds, etc.  These activities engage folks with wildlife and add a significant amount to tax base that supports government wildlife management agencies.  

I’m not aware of a clear answer as to whether supplemental feeding of deer offers more advantages or disadvantages.  At this time and based on the information available I believe citizens should be allowed to provide supplemental feed if they wish.  

I do not look at supplemental feeding (goal of increasing nutrition) the same as baiting.  Baiting is a cultural issue – just like southern states having very long gun seasons and northern states have very short gun seasons and very long archery seasons.  I agree with you that the non hunting public isn’t as receptive to baiting as they are non-baiting hunting techniques.

This clearly is not a black and white issue.  I hope those involved will be flexible and be willing to change as more is know about CWD and deer behavior!

Enjoy creation,

grant

February 24, 2016

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Is the DAI (Deer Activity Index) still available?

Question
Are your DAI (Deer Activity Index) calendars still available? I read your “Dark Secrets of Daytime Deer” article/chapter in the book Whitetail Wisdom and I’m very interested and would like to purchase a calendar.

Thank you.

Eric,

I created the DAI based on some good field work.  However, once GPS collars became inexpensive enough to place on deer and we started collecting more accurate data I realized the DAI wasn’t as accurate as the field observations indicated.  Based on this more accurate data I stopped publishing the DAI.  Since then it has become clear that the moon has no or very limited impact on when deer are active.

Thanks for asking and enjoy creation!

grant

February 24, 2016

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Is it likely deer would be infected with A. Pyogene through the use of protein feeders?

Question
Is there a danger of infecting other deer with A. Pyogene through use of protein feeders? Will my dnr test a sample ?

Alan,

There’s a chance, but the occurrence is very low. I’ve never heard of an documented case of deer being infected with A. pyogene due to supplemental feed.  

There are many variables such as how the feeders are maintained, etc.  There are many feeding programs that have operated without problems. 

Enjoy creation,

grant

February 22, 2016

 

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Should I stop feeding deer corn if I’ve been feeding them corn for months?

Question
Grant:

I recently read that feeding deer corn during the winter can actually kill some of them due to the large amount of carbohydrates introduced to their diet. I’ve been feeding deer on my property for a few months during deer archery season in Ohio. Since I’ve been feed deer for a few months, should I worry about harming these deer by feeding them corn?

Appreciate your insight.

Eric

Eric,

The key to answering your question is that deer where you hunt have been eating corn for a “few months.”  

Deer can get ill if they consume lots of corn when they haven’t had any corn or a rich carbohydrate diet for sometime.  This is because the bacteria in a deer’s gut does a lot of the digestive work.  There are many different species of bacteria in a deer’s gut and each one tends to help digest different food items.  If deer haven’t ingested corn in a while the species of bacteria necessary for digesting corn will have a substantially reduced population.  Therefore if deer ingest a lot of corn after not having access to it they won’t have the bacteria populations necessary to digest the corn.  Deer can literally die with a belly full of corn in these conditions.

I suspect you are fine to continue feeding the same amount of clean, mold free corn you’ve been feeding.

Enjoy creation,

grant

February 21, 2016

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What is wrong with this doe?

Question
Any idea what is wrong with this poor girl.

Thanks for any Info
Bill

Bill,

Gosh – that’s spooky!  I don’t know for certain what’s wrong with this doe.

Please let me know if you find out.

Enjoy creation,

grant

February 11, 2016

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Should I avoid providing water on my property because I’m concerned about the potential of encouraging the biting flies that spread EHD?

Question
Hi Grant and the growing deer team,

I am a big fan and appreciate your work in the whitetail community, I watch your videos every week. I own roughly 30 acreas in southwest wisconsin, I have established food plots, bedding habit, a sanctuary, however I am missing water. There isnt any water close in area either so i think it would be good to have, looking at putting a pond in this Spring. However, I have read the qdma article on EHD and it states that the larvae live in sediments at the water’s edge. This creates some concerns for me . I would appreciate your thoughts on this and any strategies to help combat the growth of larvae and any other insects such as mosquitos

Thank you,
Tyler

Tyler,

Deer are going to water whether at your place or on neighboring properties.  This is especially true during the drought conditions that usually precede an EHD outbreak.  There are lots of theories but I’m unaware of any research results that show how to reduce the percentage of deer that get EHD during an outbreak.  

I suggest you create a pond and realize that when the next EHD outbreak occurs deer will die in your neighborhood.  There are many factors that impact the severity of an EHD outbreak.  However, none can be controlled that I’m aware.

Between EHD outbreaks the water source you create will likely benefit several species of wildlife!

Enjoy creation,

grant

February 11, 2016

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Why is a bit of antler showing on this button buck?

Question
Can you explain this picture? Why is there a small point sticking out of this button buck?

Joseph,

Some button bucks are born earlier and therefore mature more during their first fall. If there’s good nutrition in their range a small percentage will grow enough antler to bust through the covering of their “buttons.”  This buck probably has a lot of potential if he’s allowed to mature! 

I hope you can identify this buck as he ages!

Enjoy creation,

grant

February 7, 2016

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How often do deer survive poorly placed shots?

Question
I arrowed an old buck (aged approx 6-7 yrs) Nov 7th 2015. My shot was not on target, and I’ve been kicking myself ever since. The shot was far back but did pass through. I don’t believe I touched lung, stomach, or liver. We waited 4 hours and followed a blood trail until it stopped after 300 yrds with no sign of the deer bedding down at any point. I know that deer can be resilient animals, but no one hunting in my area has seen this deer since. My question is not specifically about the deer I shot this past November, but I’m hoping he may show up again next year.

My question is do you have experiences with deer surviving poor placed shots?

Thanks for all the information that you share.

-Jeff in Arkansas

Jeff,

If a deer’s vitals aren’t damaged and no infection occurs deer have a good chance of surviving.  There are several factors that influence the chance of survival.  The scent of the wounded deer may attract predators. Even though the deer may have survived many likely don’t get a chance to heal due to being caught by predators during a weakened state.  

Enjoy creation,

grant

February 7, 2016

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What caused the unusual growth on this buck’s neck?

Question
I have some recent pictures of a buck that has gotten an unusual growth or something on his face and neck area. Just wandering if you can help identify what it is. Thanks

 

Sean,

That does appear to be a very unusual growth.  I can’t see this growth clear enough to diagnose the cause.  Most such growths are Fibromas.

Enjoy creation,

grant

February 7, 2016

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How old is this South Carolina buck?

Question
Went walking in woods today in your old stomping ground Abbeville SC. Found 2 buck skulls today. One that was pretty old and another from this past season in food plot on public land. Also found jaw bone. Is this buck 2 1/2 or older

Kenny,

I spent a lot of great days walking near Abbeville and still have many friends there.

Deer a year old or older have three premolars and three molars.  The three premolars (toward the deer’s mouth) are replaced by new teeth the deer is approximately 14 to 20 months old.  The third premolar (closer to the deer’s throat) is the last to be replaced.  This tooth has 3 cusps (humps) when it first comes.  It is physically pushed out by a new tooth at about 18 months.  The replacement tooth has two cusps. So, anytime you evaluate a deer jaw and the third premolar has two cusps the deer was two years old or older.

It appears the first molar (the fourth tooth back on the lower jaw and the oldest tooth in a two year old or older deer’s mouth) has a small amount of wear.  I estimate the buck was either two or three and I’m leaning toward three.

Enjoy creation,

grant

February 5, 2016

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Why did this spike shed part of his pedicle with his antler?

Question
Hey Grant, attached is a picture of a small spike shed I found yesterday (1-31) at the farm in Madison County, GA. I have seen this buck numerous times this year on the same plot I found the antler and he seemed quite healthy. As you can see in the picture it appears he has quite a bit of the pedicle attached to the antler base. I have seen this once or twice before and think you mentioned it in one of your shows, but what causes this and what are the consequences for his antler growth going forward??

Tommy

Tommy,

I suspect that buck had a brain abscess.  There’s been some great research on the causes, etc., of brain abscesses in Georgia.

I suspect the buck that shed that antler will produce a deformed antler next year.  If the skull was penetrated then the buck may die from infection.

Enjoy creation,

grant

February 5, 2015

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Why is this deer so small?

Question
I noticed today that I have a deer about the size of a fawn (no spots ), I know that it’s possible that it’s mom was breed late, or could this be from something else. Sorry no pics of the deer. Also wondered if you thought if it might grow out of this?

Emil,

There’s always a few abnormally small and large deer.  The abnormally large deer tend to be harvested before they mature due to their size.  So few of these live long enough to express their potential.  

There have been a few dwarf deer reported.  However they are extremely rare.  I suspect your assumption that this deer was a late born fawn that now has a winter coat (no spots) is correct.

Enjoy creation,

grant

February 5, 2016

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When do you start looking for sheds?

Question
When do you start looking for sheds?
Walker,

Daniel found a shed from a hit list buck at our place earlier this week!  I typically check my trail cameras to see when bucks have started shedding or hear about neighbors finding sheds.  Tracy, my wife, is the big shed hunter in our family.  She usually starts during early to mid February and hunts hard till spring green up.

I hope you find lots of sheds!

Enjoy creation,

grant

February 4, 2016

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Are bucks shedding their antlers yet?

Question
Do you think it would be ok to take a shed hunting walk this weekend or are most bucks likely to still be holding antlers? Also, I believe I remember you saying to look on south facing slopes. Is this correct? Do you have any other tips? Thank you for your time.

Mark,

Bucks shed their antlers when the testosterone level drops below a certain level.  Hence bucks that are stressed tend to shed earlier than others.  So when bucks shed can vary greatly by habitat quality, the adult sex ratio, winter conditions, etc.  Most bucks at my place haven’t shed yet.  I have a close friend in Ohio and most of the bucks near his farm have shed.  

I enjoy shed hunting and often look in the same areas multiple times.  If you have time, go shed hunting!  If you don’t find any don’t hesitate to revisit that area in a few weeks.

Enjoy creation,

grant

January 31, 2016

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What caused this buck’s antler pedicle to be malshaped?

Question
Grant,
Per your recent post on Facebook regarding deformed skulls/antlers, I have a unique one for you.
Is this deformity from a brain mass or something other? I’ve never seen anything like it, and am curious on your thoughts.

Thanks, and God Bless!

Dan

Daniel,

I suspect the malshaped antler pedicle in the picture you shared was caused by an accident.  Brain abscesses rarely result in a malshaped antler pedicle.  

I also noticed his left eye socket was malshaped which is another indicator of an injury.

Enjoy creation,

grant

January 31, 2016

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Why am I seeing a spotted fawn during mid January?

Question
Dr. Grant,

See attached, recent photo of deer on our proving ground here in the lowcountry of SC. My question / concern is the spotted yearling this time of the year. What does this say about my deer herd? How old is this yearling and when was her momma bred? What are you thoughts and recommendations?

Thank you,
Sam

Sam,

It’s not uncommon to see the odd fawn that still has spots during January.  This is especially true in the south where fawns rarely die from exposure to cold weather.  Some does simply breed later than others.  This could be due to an illness, lost of first fetus, etc.  

If spotted fawns were a common observation during late January in the South Carolina coastal plain I’d be worried. However, odd events don’t cause me to be alarmed.  

In fact, I’m impressed this fawn wasn’t killed by predators!  

Tracy, my wife, and I lived and worked in South Carolina for years!  

Enjoy creation,

grant

January 25, 2016

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When should I start looking for sheds?

Question
I was wondering if warmer temperatures this year will affect when the deer shed their antlers and if so when should I start looking for deer sheds?

Issac,

The warmer temperatures may impact when bucks shed in some areas.  If the temperatures are too warm it’s stressful on deer.  Deer don’t have sweat glands and it can be hard for them to lose body heat.  Bucks tend to shed earlier than normal when they are stressed.  When a buck’s testosterone level drops below a certain level bucks shed and stress can cause a substantial reduction in testosterone.

Most bucks at The Proving Grounds are still holding antlers!   

Enjoy creation,

grant

January 25, 2016

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Would you explain the term “yarding”?

Question
Would you explain the term, Yarding-up with respect to whitetail deer ?

 

Ernie,

In the northern part of the whitetail’s range deer often migrate to or gather in areas with dense stands of conifers such as mature white cedars, hemlock, etc.  Snow depth below the conifers is substantially reduced as much of the snow is captured in branches of the trees.  This allows deer to be able to run better and usually escape predators.  In addition the conifers block much of the wind and allow deer to conserve body heat.  Deer rarely “yard” in areas where the snow depths are less than a foot or two for extended periods of time.

Enjoy creation,

grant

January 23, 2016

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Have you heard of EHD?

Question
Grant,

My father is a veterinarian in central Wisconsin and recently sent this in an email;

“We have people turning in legs off of deer that they have found dead on their property.  One guy from down by Fall River.  And then Betsy has found 4 dead deer on her property and 3 of them have the hoof rotting of on one foot.  Some of them look like something has exploded right at the hair line of the hoof called the coronary band.  Have you hear of any of this?  There is one disease called EHD, Epizootic Hemorhagic Disease that kills deer and some of them their hoof sloughs but not to the extent that these deer show.  Interesting.”

Any thoughts?

Thanks,
Scott Elford

 

Scott,

Epizootic Hemorrhagic Disease (EHD) has been studied for 50+ years.  There was an outbreak of EHD at The Proving Grounds during 2012.  There’s a very good description of EHD at:  http://vet.uga.edu/population_health_files/hemorrhagic-disease-brochure-2013.pdf

To see some of the results of this disease check out: https://www.growingdeer.tv/#/death-of-a-hit-list-buck

In fact, the 2012 outbreak is responsible for a substantially declined deer harvest still today throughout much of the Midwest.

Enjoy creation,

grant

January 21, 2016

 

 

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Is it common for does to have dark stained tarsal glands?

Question
Dr. Woods, I shot a doe at my lease in Southern Alabama earlier this week and she had real dark staining on her tarsal glands. I have never seen this before. Is this common???

 

Tim,

It isn’t common for does to have dark stained tarsal glands.  The ones I’ve seen have been dominate (very mature) does.

Enjoy creation,

grant

January 15, 2016

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What food plot varieties do you suggest for warmer climates like central Florida?

Question
Hey there! So, I live in central Florida on 130 acres of property. We have lots of Cyprus trees, about a dozen of oak trees, but mostly pine. Water sources usually consist of swamps that the deer meet around. We’ve sat on different food plots consisting of soybeans and wheat germs. Any thoughts or suggestions on good food plots that would work for warmer climates. Also, what would you recommend a good buck/doe ratio for that amount of acreage? Have a couple decent bucks on camera and found some good scraps and rubs but haven’t seen them during shooting hours. Any other suggestions you might have would be greatly appreciated!!

Michael,

Unless there are lots of oaks on neighboring properties stands close to the dozen on your property may be a great location.  Deer love acorns!  Usually there are so many oaks that it’s tough to pattern which oaks are attracting deer.  If the supply of oaks are limited it’s much easier to scout and know where to place stands!

Soybeans are a good choice for warm season plots in central Florida and well fertilized forage wheat should attract deer during the fall and winter.  

Deer herds function well when the adult sex ratio is 1:1. I suspect deer where you hunt range further than your property.  This means your deer management goals need to consider harvest and habitat quality throughout the neighborhood, and not just on your property. For example, if there’s no or limited deer hunting on the neighboring properties then you can have a larger impact on the local herd’s adult sex ratio.

It will be important to you to hunt wisely and not alert deer so they will be more likely to use your property during daylight hours.

Enjoy creation,

grant

January 14, 2016

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Is it normal for bucks to be chasing does during mid January?

Question
Myself and several others have hunted all this week, 1/8/16-1/13/16. We have all seen several mature bucks still chasing does. Is this nromal for this time of the year? I myself have been deer hunting for 30 years, and can never recall seeing bucks still chasing does this late.

John,

If you have been hunting in the same area and this is the first year you’ve seen bucks chasing does during mid January that may be a good sign!  If most of the breeding occurs during November where you hunt then I suspect bucks are now chasing female fawns. Fawns tend to reach puberty and become receptive when they weigh 70+ pounds.  Hopefully you are seeing the results of improved habitat and female fawns growing quicker compared to past years.  

Fawns breeding is very common in areas with lots of quality forage such as where soybeans and corn are commonly grown.

Enjoy creation,

grant

January 14 2016

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Why don’t all bucks have larger antlers?

Question
I’ve followed you a few years now and remember you saying once you don’t believe in buck “genetics,” you believe in the right sources of growth in a buck. If that is true then why wouldn’t all of the other bucks prosper just as that one particular monster that was on the property? I appreciate your time Grant, thanks for all you do for the industry!

Devin,

I may have miscommunicated. I certainly believe in genetic variation in all critters (humans, deer, etc.).  It’s been shown that hunters can’t have much of an impact on antler traits of free-ranging whitetails.  Many antler traits are inherited from does.  Without a pedigree (knowing which buck and doe paring produced which fawn) for many generations can accurate selection be made to favor or cull deer that will produce bucks with larger than average antlers.  

Such pedigrees are available for some captive deer herds, but never for free-ranging deer herds.  In addition, selecting for larger antlers may be selecting for less disease resistance, etc.  

It is certain that by allowing bucks to mature and providing them with quality habitat they can express more of their antler growth potential.

Enjoy creation,

grant

January 12, 2016

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Why is this buck hunched over?

Question
Any ideas why this buck hunches over as shown in the attached photo. In August and September he had normal posture. He disappeared from my cameras until the end of November. All the photos since show a hunched over posture. I am guessing injury from fighting but I don’t see any obvious signs. I had a 170″ buck last year that sustained an injury on his side. I assumed a puncture from fighting. By March the infection was the size of a dinner plate. He shed in March and by April I lost track of him. Not sure if he made it or not. I didn’t see him this fall. Thank you.

William,

I suspect you are correct that this buck has been injured.  It will be interesting to see if he recovers.  

If a buck holds his antlers till March he’s most likely in good condition as most injured bucks shed early.

Enjoy creation,

grant

January 10, 2016

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Will deer bed in standing water?

Question
I have a 40 acre bedding area in the middle of my 500 acre property in the southern part of Louisiana that doesn’t drain well. Would deer bed down in standing water or would they look to bed down in higher dryer ground?

Michael,

I’ve never known of deer to bed in standing water unless they were sick and had a fever – trying to cool down.

I suspect deer in your area seek bedding areas on dry ground.  This may be small islands in the area that doesn’t drain well.

Enjoy creation,

grant

January 6, 2016

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How do you define a bedding area?

Question
Grant,
I very much appreciate your program, land management, deer management and most especially your sincere appreciation for all that we have been given and the credit as to who it came from.
My question is regarding bedding areas. You frequently identify bedding areas. Do you regard every area that is not a feeding area as a bedding area, or are there specific signs you look for to identify land areas as bedding areas.
Appreciate your time and knowledge shared.

Also I just became aware that at my age (65) allows me to use a crossbow. Though I will not run right out and buy one, are there any brands or features that you would recommend? I am in no hurry, enjoy using a compound bow today and it continues to serve my needs.

Thanks
Joe

Joe,

Thank you for sharing the kind words!

Deer tend to bed (seek cover) in areas that fit their needs for the current conditions.  Some common scenarios may be deer bedding on a north or east slope when the temperatures are warmer than normal and a south or west slope when they are warmer than normal.  Humans tend to adjust their environment by changing clothes, the thermostat, etc.  Deer must change their environment to be comfortable and/or survive.  

Deer like cover that is thick from 0′ to 3′ or so above the ground, especially when it’s cold.  Deer may seek areas where it’s open from 0′ to 3′ above the ground so there’s good airflow if it’s hot or bugs are bad.  

The bottom line is that deer will using the best environment for the current conditions when seeking a location to bed and that bedding locations often change frequently based on environmental conditions.

Enjoy creation,

grant

January 6, 2016

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What time of year do deer need minerals for optimum antler growth?

Question
Hey Mr. Woods, I have a quick question about trophy rock, and mineral licks in general. What time of the year is most crucial for a buck to receive mineral supplements for optimal antler growth? Thanks!

Reuben,

The antler growth process is very unique!  Deer store minerals in their skeleton system throughout the year and then release it to grow antlers or milk for fawns during the late spring and summer.  Deer see minerals a bit more during the spring and summer but do best when quality trace minerals are available year round!  I keep Trophy Rock Four65 our year round at The Proving Grounds!

Enjoy creation,

grant

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Is there a disease that impacts the lower lip of deer?

Question
I killed an axis deer and it is missing the fleshy part of its lower lip. It looks like something chewed it off but a part that is still there has made the upper lip grow differently so it seems it has been that way and not something that happened after I harvested it. I was curious if this might be some disease and if there would be any concern in eating the meat? I have a picture if you would like to see it.

Lance

Lance,

Congratulations on tagging an axis deer!  I’m not aware of any disease that impacts the lips of deer. I suspect the deer you tagged was injured.  Unless there is signs of infection, etc., the meat should be fine to consume!

Enjoy creation,

grant

January 3, 2016

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How many fawns will a doe throughout her lifetime?

Question
Dear Grant myself and some local whitetail nuts have created a local branch of qdma Canada but unlike most parts of the country where qdm relies on a modest to aggressive doe harvest to balance sex ratios and carrying capacity of the land our area of Ontario is the opposite our herd has suffered some very hard winters among other problems predators,native harvest etc our natural resources does not have the funding for yearly population surveys but the governments tags allocation for antler less deer appears to be too great for what the population actually is .
Have you done any research or spreadsheets on how many fawns one average doe could produce over her average life as a way to restore deer populations using a less than modest doe harvest it’s easier to approach fellow hunters with facts because that trigger finger is one management tool all hunters use
Thanks
Darren Ashick
Renfrew county qdma canada

Darren,

Congratulations on starting a QDMA Branch!  That’s a great way to share deer management information in the area you hunt!!

If the habitat is “good” at least  50% of whitetails female fawns will bred.  They typically have one fawn their first year (as one year old deer).  The percentage of female fawns that will breed decreases rapidly as the habitat quality declines.  In some areas no female whitetails breed until they are 1.5 years old and have their first fawn as a 2 year old.  Whether they have one or two fawns depends on habitat quality.  Does two years old and older often have two fawns each year.

Before you start doing simple math, know there’s usually a huge difference between the number of fawns born and the amount that survive to six months old. Fawns that survive to six months of age are called recruited – or the recruitment rate.  

It’s very common for the recruitment rate to be average one fawn per doe or less!  The QDMA’s Whitetail Report (available for free online) had some great data about this in one of the last two issues.  I believe you’ll find that publication and information helpful!

Enjoy creation,

grant

December 21, 2015

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How old was this Ohio doe?

Question
Hey Grant! Really enjoy everything you do and are a great role model for young men and women interested in Natural Resources like myself.

Recently Grant was Ohio’s gun season and while aging deer for Division of Wildlife surveys a doe was checked it and whenever I opened her mouth I couldn’t believe how old she was (guessing her at 7.5). With division of wildlife we age .5- 4.5. Once we determine a deer is over 4.5 we call it 4.5+. But I’m really curious to see what you think of her age. I was fortunate that the guy who killed the deer didn’t want the jawbones and gave me permission to take them. Now I know its difficult once a deer reaches a certain age and also i know every deer is unique and may age different than others. Regardless Id like to have a more professional observation because I have only been surveying deer for 3 years.

Thank You,
Garrett

Garrett,

Thanks for sharing the kind words!  

Those are nice quality pictures!  As you know, estimating a deer’s age using the wear and replacement technique isn’t 100% accurate.  It appears this deer had an abscess that may have caused an different rate of wear than normal.  Taking that into consideration, I estimate this deer was at least 5.5 years old and maybe older.

Enjoy creation,

grant

December 21, 2015 

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Is the warmer than normal temperatures delaying the rut in central Alabama?

Question
Can warm weather alter the rut in an area? The tempatures here in central alabama have been 20 degrees above normal, and they are usually in full rut right now but i havent really been seeing any rut activity. Could this warm weather be delaying the rut?

Andrew,

Myself and several other researchers have collected literally 10’s of 1,000’s of fetuses from hunter harvested does.  The date of conception can be determined from fetal length.  Theses data clearly indicate deer in the same location breed during the same time frame from year to year no matter the moon phase or weather.  However, deer may not  be very active during daylight hours when the temperature is warmer than normal.  I suspect you are observing reduced daytime deer activity due to the warmer than normal temperatures.

Enjoy creation,

grant

December 21, 2015 

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What do you think about the new regulations impacting deer seasons on Missouri?

Question
What is your opinion on the new regulations for deer hunting here in MO. Also what are is your opinion on the CWD management zones, I am a hunter in one of the new areas and I have not see CWD on the farm, how is putting out minerals a bad thing. We do all we can to get the most growth out of are deer population. With out being able to put out minerals I feel we will lose some of that growth and we will loose the deer population we have on the farm.

Thank you for your time,

Jeff,

Overall I think the Missouri Department of Conservation does a good job managing natural resources.  It’s very tough to manage deer on a statewide or even countywide basis.  Habitat, the number of deer, etc., can change substantially from property to property so most state agencies are forced to manage based on averages.  16+ states use some type of Deer Management Assistance Program (DMAP). This requires each landowner to collect data but also allows them to taylor deer harvest and management goals for their property.  

I assist landowners in several states that use DMAP programs and am impressed with the results. Some states have had DMAP programs for decades.  

CWD is a very serious concern.  Unfortunately there’s still much that’s not known about CWD.  However, there seems to be some very common trends associated with CWD that might be used to guide wildlife managers.  

One such trend is that some of the highest infection rate/longest known occurrences of CWD are in southern Wyoming and northern Colorado. The vast majority of these areas are public lands were feeding and supplemental minerals are illegal.  CWD has obviously spread unchecked even though supplemental feeding or minerals were not and are not being used.  Conversely there are many states such as South Carolina, Florida, Alabama, Kentucky, etc., where CWD has yet to be found even though supplemental feeding and/or minerals are legal.  There are many variables including the intensity of testing for CWD, etc.

It doesn’t seem like the rate of CWD transmission is related to the practice of providing supplemental feed and/or minerals.  This is possibly due to the fact that deer are very social.  They lick, groom, etc., other deer frequently. The smell the urine of other deer, use scrapes, etc.

There is much unknown about CWD and I certainly favor intense research on this subject. It may be best to be overly cautious in areas where CWD has been detected.  I hope we redirect some research dollars and effort to focusing on CWD soon.

Enjoy creation,

grant

December 20, 2015 

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Does EHD impact one gender or age class more than another?

Question
Dr. Woods,

I have been to several of your lectures, and I have used the information from those lectures and your website to improve the deer herd on our farm in Southern IL. I was hoping you could provide some insight into EHD. With the way that EHD is spread, I understand that no particular age/sex of deer are at a greater risk of contracting EHD. What I’d like to know is if any data suggests that a certain age/sex of deer are more likely to succumb to the disease? I thought I remembered in one of you lectures that you mentioned mature bucks seem to be at a slightly increased risk of death after being exposed to EHD, but I could easily be misremembering. Any help you could provide would be greatly appreciated. Thanks for your time, Merry Christmas, and thank you for all that you do for the whitetail hunting community!

-Rob

Rob,

Researchers have been studying EHD for more than five decades!  (There is MUCH more known about EHD than CWD).  During most of this time there weren’t many mature bucks as hunters shot the first buck they saw.  During those decades researchers reported there was no difference in susceptibility of any gender or age class to EHD.

During the 2012 EHD outbreak several of my clients and other landowners reported finding a substantially higher percentage of mature bucks than younger bucks or does that apparently died from EHD.  

This “may” be due to the fact that large velvet antlers are much easier for the biting flies to get a blood meal than through the hair and skin.  If this is the case, mature bucks may be more successible to the vector (the biting flies) than younger bucks or does.

Hopefully researchers will test this theory. However, this information won’t decrease the damage from EHD outbreaks. Unfortunately, there were several new strains of EHD in the United States and I suspect EHD outbreaks may become more common.

Enjoy creation,

grant

December 15, 2015

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What’s wrong with this buck’s jaw?

Question
hello Dr. Woods, I’m Alex and I have a question about this buck I have on camera here in Goshen, Arkansas we have hunting our new property this year for the first time and have been lucky enough to have harvested 3 bucks and multiple does but this is the first time we have seen this buck . I watch you’re videos religiously but id rather have you word on the, notice the chin of the buck I’m guessing it’s just a abscess but I want your opinion. Thank you

Alex,

It sounds like you and your family have a great hunting spot!  

The buck in your pictures may have Lumpy Jaw.  Check out the following link for more information. Lumpy Jaw isn’t contagious and is raw.  

http://wildlifedisease.unbc.ca/lumpy_jaw.htm

Enjoy creation,

grant

December 14, 2015

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Will fawns bred earlier this winter due to the warmer conditions?

Question
Grant sir, I’m sorry if I ask too many questions….You often teach that the so called “second rut” happens when the fawns reach 70 lb’s and sexual maturity. my experience matches yours, for this, at around Dec 10-11. Do you think that the mild and warm year we have had, across the Midwest, will make this happen earlier? Or possibly just all happen nocturnally? Congrats on growing and killing that recent buck.

Mark,

I doubt fawns will reach puberty (weigh approximately 70 pounds) earlier this year compared to most.  I suspect deer will be more active during the night due to the warm daytime temperatures.  Deer will need to regulate their body temperatures by adjusting when they are active, what they eat, and the habitat they use.

Enjoy creation and I hope a cold front passes where you hunt soon!

grant

December 10, 2015

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What mineral is most important to deer?

Question
Dr Woods

First off I’d like to thank you for being such a wonderful Christian example in the deer hunting industry. I think it’s awesome that you use your platform to help introduce people to the love Christ has for all of us.

I first started watching your weekly episodes a little over a year ago. Over that time I think I’ve learned more from your videos and articles than I ever did from any other resources.

I live and hunt in west central Kentucky where there is a good mixture of timber and agriculture. On the properties I hunt, I have food plots of the following combinations: standing beans, clover and chicory, and oats, turnips, and winter peas. There is also no shortage of natural browse as portions of these properties have been logged, while other portions have an abundance of mature red and white oaks. I feel like I’m meeting the needs of my deer herds nutritionally and I want to optimize their overall well being with mineral supplementation as well.

My question is this: What minerals are most essential when looking for a mineral supplement for my deer herd? Also, in what ratios and ppm of each component should I look for? I understand that there is no magic mineral that is going to make all the difference, I’m just wanting to provide my deer herds with everything I can to help them express their maximum potential.

I had a successful season this year as you can see below and I think I’m on the right track.
Thanks again for the wonderful resource you provide.
Jared

Jared,

Congratulations on tagging a very nice buck!  

You are correct that there is no magic mineral known for deer.  In addition, what minerals and in what amounts isn’t know and can’t be prescribed for wild, free-ranging deer because their diets are so variable.  

Wikipedia and other sources summarize a scientific principle related to this as:

…where it was found that increasing the amount of plentiful nutrients did not increase plant growth. Only by increasing the amount of the limiting nutrient (the one most scarce in relation to “need”) was the growth of a plant or crop improved. This principle can be summed up in the aphorism, “The availability of the most abundant nutrient in the soil is only as good as the availability of the least abundant nutrient in the soil.” Or, to put it more plainly, “A chain is only as strong as its weakest link.”

The soils and plants may be low on one element and 100 yards away be low on a different element.  This is exactly why I use Trophy Rock. It’s mined in Utah and is 100% natural and contains 60+ trace minerals all in proportions found in most mammals.  I’ve used Tropy Rock for  years and have been very pleased!  I use the Trophy Rock Four65.

I haven’t found any other product that includes so many different trace minerals in the same ratios as found in most mammals.  

Enjoy creation,

grant

December 10, 2015

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Is it true Florida deer rut during September?

Question
Grant sir, have you ever hunted Florida before? Is it true that the smaller Florida deer rut in September? Also, do you know at what point in history folks started to hunt whitetail something like we do today? I’m sure settlers loved them for sustenance but I’m curious when conservation, sport, and sustenance sort of blended together. Merry Christmas

Mark,

Deer in Florida rut during late July and early August in the far south to February in the northern panhandle!  Deer in Florida have been recorded breeding during 11 months.  Typically the further south the less synchronized the rut.  

Deer in Florida are small due to poor nutrition. Some of my clients in Florida commonly tag 150″ bucks as a result of providing good quality habitat!  

Pennsylvania was the first state to have a game commission and active wildlife management.  The pennsylvania Game Commission is more than 100 years old!  My home state of Missouri stated a state wildlife department 76 years ago. There were active conservation minded citizens before these commissions started.  

Enjoy creation,

grant

December 10, 2015 

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What causes deer to have tumors like this?

Question
Hello Grant and everyone one at Growing Deer TV! I was wondering what causes tumors such as this one on this buck? I have seen them varying in sizes and locations and was wondering if the causes are injuries, cancers, or something completely different. Thanks and keep up the great work on the best deer hunting and management show ever!

Bryan,

I’ve never seen a deer with a tumor like the one shown in your picture in person.  I’m not aware of any disease that results in such tumors in deer.  

I suspect it’s caused by blood polling after an injury.  Such tumors are always at a low spot on the body in the pictures folks share.

Enjoy creation,

grant

December 10, 2015

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How likely is it that three or four year old bucks will add brow tines as they age?

Question
Dr. Grant,
I’ve been blessed with family owned hunting property in the deep southern part of Louisiana. We don’t have the genetics are food that the midwest have so our biggest bucks are about 125″. I shoot 8 points are better. I had a 6 point in bow range this season that was a 3×3 with no brow tines. If it had brow tines, it would have been a 8 point. My question is, if this six point that I let walk had what I determined a mature body, would it ever have a chance to grow it’s brow tines? Or do you think I should have shot based on what I predicted a 3-4yr old that wouldn’t grow it’s brow tines and be considered a cull buck? Thanks…

Michael,

Genetics is almost never a problem with herd’s average antler size. Small antlers are almost always a result of bucks being immature and/or not having good groceries. 

For example almost all the deer in northern, Missouri were stocked from southern Missouri.  World class bucks are harvested annually in northern Missouri and almost never in southern Missouri.  The difference in average antler size per age class is the quality of groceries!  There’s lots of soybeans and corn in northern Missouri and practically none in southern Missouri.

Each buck is a unique individual just like humans.  Some of us express more of our potential early and some grow more later in life.  However, if a buck doesn’t have brow tines by the time he’s three or four it’s doubtful he produce large brow tines later during his life.

I don’t believe in “cull” bucks. Each buck has unique qualities including disease resistance, predator awareness, etc.  Antler size is only one characteristic.  I suggest folks harvest bucks based on a certain age and not only antler size.  For example I harvested a mature buck earlier this year that didn’t have a huge rack.  The weak before Adam passed a buck that had better scoring antlers but was a year younger.  You may watch that hunt at:  https://www.growingdeer.tv/archive/#/prerut-action-bow-hunt

Age is the best harvest criteria for serious deer managers.

Enjoy creation,

grant

December 10, 2015

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Would a deer with a broken antler pedicle survive?

Question
Dear Grant,

A couple months ago i harvested my first deer with a bow and one of the antlers was freely hanging. After skinning out the head i discovered the the pedicle was broken. I was wondering if the the deer would have made it through the winter and if the deer was in pain and what might have caused a broken pedicle?

Thanks, Evan

Evan,

Congratulations on tagging a buck with your bow!!  

If the skin is broken bucks often get an infection in the skull and die.  If the skin isn’t broken bucks often survive broken pedicles and produce non-typical antlers the next year.  

Enjoy creation,

grant

December 3, 2015 

 

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How much meat should a deer yield?

Question
HOW MUCH MEAT SHOULD AN AVERAGE DOE YIELD KILLED BY A BOW, SAY SHE WAS FIELD DRESSED AND WEIGHED 100 POUNDS?

Richard,

Deer typically yield about a maximum of about 40% meat once skin, bones, and guts are removed.

So – 100 pound doe should yield 40 pounds of meat.  This will vary depending on amount of fat, stomach content, etc.

Enjoy creation,

grant

December 3, 2015

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Is a buck that still have velvet during the rut rare?

Question
Hey Grant I asked you a Question about my deer that was still in velvet through out the rut. The deer had no sign of a injury to the testicals. I was woundering if this type of deer is rare and if you had seen one for yourself? I was also woundering if the problem with the testicals effected the meat at all? Keep you the great work on your YouTube Chanel it is very entertain and very helpful, cant wait for the next video!

Tanner,

Bucks that have velvet covered antlers during the rut are rare!  I have seen a few other hunters have harvested. I’ve never tagged one.  

You may watch our show at http://www.GrowingDeer.com as there is much more information there than on our YouTube channel.

Enjoy creation,

grant

November 30, 2015

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What’s wrong with this buck’s nose?

Question
Hi Dr Grant,

First, thank you for your videos. We have been using a lot of your tips on my parents 16 acres. After 3 years, we have seen an increase in deer activity as well as an increase in mature deer. We were able to take a very nice deer in early October. We had an interesting picture turn up on our cameras. Wondering what you thought is the health issue with this deer? We are located in North Central Indiana. We are hoping it is just an old deer, but the muzzle is definitely distorted. This is the only picture we had of this deer or any other deer that looks like this.

Thank you for your time,
CJ

CJ,

I suspect this buck suffered an injury to his nose/face.  I doubt there’s any reason for concern.  

It sounds like your management efforts are paying off nicely!

Congratulations and enjoy creation,

grant

November 28, 2015

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Why did this buck not shed the velvet from his antlers?

Question
Hey Grant I harvested a Deer on Missouri’s opening day for Gun Season. When I approached my buck I noticed that it was still in full velvet it did not look like he tried to scrap it off at all, his antlers were hard, also his testicals have not dropped at all. I was wondering if you knew what was wrong with my deer? If you could email me back that would be wonderful thanks! Have a good one!

Tanner,

Congratulations on taking a unique trophy!

Did you find testicals in the body cavity?  if not, it was likely an antlered doe. Often antlered does don’t shed velvet.

If there were testicals in the body cavity were there signs of an injury?  If not, it sounds like the buck had cryptorchidism. Check out the following link for a good explanation.

https://www.qdma.com/articles/when-bucks-dont-shed-their-velvet

Enjoy creation,

grant

November 27, 2015

 

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What’s would cause a deer’s tongue to hang out all the time?

Question
I have a doe that has her tongue hanging out all the time. I can see no other signs of abnormalities in this doe. I have several videos of this doe. Any idea what is causing this? I am unable to attach any of the videos to this form.

Eric,

I’m not aware of any disease that would cause a deer’s tongue to hang out for an extended period of time.  Deer with a fever (often caused by Epizootic Hemorrhagic Disease or EHD/Bluetongue) will have their tongue out if the infection is severe. These deer are almost always found by water and this would be during the fall.  

If the deer appears otherwise healthy (not gaunt, etc.) then I wouldn’t worry about her.  If the deer is always be water or starts losing weight then I suggest you share the videos with a local state agency.

Enjoy creation,

grant

November 27, 2015 

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Why do many of the bucks where I hunt in Nebraska have busted antlers?

Question
Grant, as you requested, here is the question I sent you while in Nebraska last week:

“Hey Grant, if you have a second want to see if you can confirm or dispel a theory I have. I am out here hunting in northwest Nebraska this week. I have been hunting this same farm for 15 years and have managed it with an if-I-shoot-it-I-mount it policy. Needless to say I’ve let tons of bucks walk. Only my friend hunts the farm other than me. Every year we find the creek bottom littered with rubs on cottonwoods from 4 to 6 inches in diameter. And during this week every year, nearly every buck of any size has busted up racks. I saw a heavy-racked ten pointer this morning that had broken a G2 and his main beam just past the G3 on the opposite side. The anecdotal evidence would suggest there are some monster bucks here somewhere–yet we rarely see them. My largest buck was a 3 year old scoring 157 back in 2012. My theory is that there are indeed whoppers here to make that sign, and that competition is high and intense to bust up racks like that. A nine-day season and 1500 miles severely limits our ability to scout and pattern these larger deer so we’re largely at the mercy of luck while here each year. My question is, do you agree with my conclusion from the evidence available?

As a follow up now that I am home, I did manage a 5×5, 4.5 year old buck off a farm down the creek, that had he not screwed his right beam up on a fence while in velvet would have made a gross of 150.

Tommy,

A portion of my doctoral research was on rub behavior. My study site was near the South Carolina coast and a big deer scored 125″.  The property was managed for a balanced buck:doe ratio. There were many rubs on trees that were 10+” in diameter!  Based on this and other published research antler size doesn’t correlate with rub size.  I suspect the creek is a major travel corridor (which is common in western areas) and many bucks pass through that area.  In addition rubs tend to be congregated by creeks in prairie habitat as there simply aren’t many trees in other areas – especially tree species that deer use as rubs.  Deer are simply rubbing on the trees that are available and within an appropriate size range.

I suspect the high percentage of busted antlers is due to the fragmented nature of the habitat and increased likelihood of buck to buck encounters.  This is the same reason you drive 1,500 miles to hunt the area. It’s probably much easy to pattern bucks in the prairie habitat than near your home (if you live 1,500 miles away – you probably aren’t in the prairie).

Congratulations on tagging a mature buck!

Enjoy creation,

grant

November 27, 2015


 

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What caused the “blackened, dead looking” antlers on this buck?

Question
Grant and Team,

Great work you guys do and very much appreciate all the education you provide!!

Submitted this question before but didn’t get a response (not that I could find anyway!)

We have pictures of what looks like an otherwise healthy deer with blackened dead looking antlers. Do you know what causes this? Hoping this isn’t an initial sign of a disease we’re unaware of. We’re located in Green County GA north of Greensboro.

Steve

Steve,

I went to school at the University of Georgia.

It appears this buck still has button buck pedicles.  If the date is correct on the images the “blackened” look may be dried velvet.  I’m not aware of any disease that results in this antler structure.

These observations plus his overall appearance indicates to this deer was very late born fawn and his antler growth cycle is slightly out of rhythm.  I suspect he will grow out of it next year as his body matures.

I apologize missing your question earlier.  

Enjoy creation,

grant

November 24, 2015

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How do stains on a buck’s tarsal gland help indicate his age?

Question
Hi Grant,

I noted in your last episode when you said that the buck you were aging in the field did not have staining on his tarsal glands. I was curious how the tarsal glands are used to indicate age? Also, it did look like they were stained to me, so I was wondering what you are looking for when you are talking about staining? Just trying to educate myself a little more!

Thank you for your informative show. I think I have watched every show for about the last two years!

Bill

Bill,

Almost all bucks urinate on their tarsal glands.  Mature bucks don’t seem to make any effort to remove the odor or urine from their tarsals. Immature bucks often lick off the urine.  This is probably to reduce the amount of odor and not attract other bucks during the rut.  

Hence mature bucks often have urine stains several inches below their tarsal glands.  If there is any stain on immature bucks it will often only be the tarsal gland and there won’t be any stain below the gland.  This is a good indicator, but not absolute evidence of a buck’s maturity or dominance status.

Enjoy creation,

grant

November 23, 2015

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What causes the bucks on my farm to have funking antlers on one side?

Question
I’d like to start this off by saying I’ve learnd so much from your show

I have 200 acres in southeastern ok
I was wondering what causes all my bucks to have funky horns on one side


 

Robert,

Congratulations on owning 200 acres!  I really like southeastern Oklahoma!  I used to work on a ranch near McAllester.

There’s no known reason for deer to have non-typical antlers on one side.  I suspect the non-typical antlers, especially if they occur in both young and old bucks, is related to habitat quality.  

Sorry I don’t have a more definitive answer.

Enjoy creation,

grant

November 23, 2015

 

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Will fawns be as large as does by mid November?

Question
Grant
We have had 3 does with twins this year. I have a video taken with my phone of 2 of the groups eating acorns in front of the cabin one weekend early in October it was easy to distinguish fawn from adult. This weekend 8 weeks in to the Iowa hunting season I noticed groups of does but all looked similar in size, It hit me later that these could be the same groups I have seen all year. I guess it would be normal for that to happen?

Rob,

Fawns with access to quality groceries will often be close to the size of does.  Fawns living in areas without quality food will mature much slower.  It sounds like there’s high quality deer habitat near your cabin!

Enjoy creation,

grant

November 23, 2015
 

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Do does “roar” to warn other deer?

Question
While muzzleloading this year in Kentucky, I had the misfortune of making a spine shot on a doe. As soon as she hit the ground she let out with a loud, for lack of a better term, roar. I have never heard a doe make this noise, nor have I ever heard anyone talk about a doe doing this. She was in a group of 6 other does. Was this some type of a warning for the others?

Troy,

Congratulations on tagging a doe!  I suspect that verbalization was out of distress or fear.  It’s not a normal deer vocalization.

Enjoy creation,

grant

November 23, 2015

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What would cause a buck’s testicle to be enlarged?

Question
Dr.Grant, what causes a bucks testicles to be the size of a soccer ball???

Andrew,

The buck must have been injured.  Even an injury in the abdomen can result in a buck’s scrotum swelling due to blood pooling at the lowest point.  You’ll know this was the case if his scrotum was very dark due to be filled with blood.

Enjoy creation,

grant

November 23, 2015

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What caused this buck to have a moose nose?

Question
Hi Grant,

I got a picture of this buck a few years ago and have since wondered what happened to him from time to time. Well, it came up in conversation recently amongst my friends and I, and wanted to try to stir up an answer/explanation. I am assuming it was a some type of infection or maybe a birth defect?…but wanted to see what you think. Do you mind taking a look and telling me what you think happened to this deer?

Thank you sir,

Adam

Adam,

Wow – that’s a unique buck!  There’s no way to diagnose based on a picture if that buck’s deformed nose is from an injury or illness. 

If you find out – someone harvest and diagnoses what caused his nose to be deformed please let me know!

Enjoy creation,

grant

November 17, 2015

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What are these small objects found in the fatty tissue?

Question
Found some small kidney bean looking objects in the fatty tissue in the neck of a deer I was cutting up can you tell me what they are

Theresa,

Great question and observation! Grant and I both have looked at this picture and believe that these small kidney bean shaped objects are pockets of blood that has been released from the lymphatic system and they are making their way back through the body to be recycled. 

Thanks,

Matt

2015-11-16

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What are the whole weights of deer at The Proving Grounds?

Question
I have another question regarding your harvest data.What are the average weights of your does and bucks? I am more particularly interested in live weight, but if you only have field dressed weight, that will work.

I have come to the conclusion that not all bucks are going to weigh 200 lbs at full maturity. Are deer more like people in that there are big people, short people, tall people, skinny people, heavy people?

I have seen on our farm a broad spectrum of weights. I have seen 5+yr old deer weigh in at 200 lbs, and I have seen 5+ year old deer weigh in at 170 lbs. Is this something you see as well?

Thanks for your time.

Tom,

Bucks four years old or older average approximately (I have them all recorded but didn’t look them up) 200+ pounds during the  pre rut and 170 or less during the post rut.  Bucks will commonly lose 20% or more whole weight during the rut. So make sure you factor harvest date into your comparison.

Our heaviest doe this year weighed 156. Our average mature doe will have a whole weight of 120+.

How’s that compare to what you deer weigh?  These are heavier than average for deer living in high graded oak hickory forest.

Enjoy creation,

grant

November 11, 2015

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Do you think this deer will survive?

Question
this deer has been on our do not shoot list this year. A neighbor must have made a bad arrow shot on him. Do you think he will survive?

Sands,

It appears the wound channel is in the loin or muscle. As long as the wound doesn’t become infected I suspect the deer will survive.  The buck will likely produce a non-typical set of antlers next year.

Please keep me posted if you get more images of this buck!  Please don’t share on social media. Such images only serve to damage hunting.

Enjoy creation,

grant

November, 11, 2015

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Would you like to research the Deer Hunter’s moon guide?

Question
I have been doing some research on a product called the ” Deer hunters’ moon guide” and I am wanting to compare notes of sorts with you. Now by no means am I pushing this product or anything, just some more research. I noticed on Facebook that you and your family and staff have harvested and few big buck this year. If you are interested I’d love to compare notes and test this product out with your success as well as mine.

Nathan,

Thanks for offering to share notes with us about deer activity compared to moon phases.

There have been 1,000’s of deer fitted with GPS collars throughout the whitetails’ range.  Researchers have looked for a relationship between when deer are active and many characteristics of the moon’s orbit. To date, no relationship has been found.  This is based on literally millions of accurate data points. 

I suggest you study the influence of weather on deer activity. There’s certainly some interesting relationships but there are many variables to track.

Enjoy creation,

grant

November 11, 2015

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Do deer in Mississippi bred later than those in the Midwest?

Question
Dr Woods
I am a big fan and follow you on multiple outlets. I think you set a great example and are a great teacher to those of us trying to create great deer habitat and strengthen the herd.
As I watch your videos and read your articles and posts, I keep questioning myself on how similar your environment is to mine. I know you are in the Ozarks which is well north of my place in MS. For example, Matt recently posted “It is November and Bucks are on the move”. Im not seeing evidence of that in MS. (I only have 6 trail cams on 250 acres so I could be missing it) I assume your deer are about to rut. The Mississippi Dept of Wildlife, Game and Fisheries (MDWGF) reported the peak breeding date in MS was the first week of January in my area. Are my deer just a couple of months behind yours as far as behavior is concerned? (Meaning that I may be in an early Fall pattern when your rut is peaking) If so, do you think the relationship between our 2 areas is a day for day linear relationship for deer behavior?
I apologize for the wordiness but I really could have typed an encyclopedia worth of questions. It was hard to narrow down the essence of my question. I tried to be as concise as possible but realized I am failing miserably.
Thanks for all of the hard work. I look forward to your thoughts.
Thanks
Ty

Ty,

Thanks for the kind words!

Yes, deer in portions of Mississippi, Alabama, Texas, etc,. do bred later than deer in most states.  Even more interesting, deer in south Florida bred during late July/early August!  

Breeding dates are genetically programmed in does and bucks will breed anytime.

Enjoy creation,

grant

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What caused the large lump on this buck’s neck?

Question
Hello Grant,

I haven’t seen this buck since he was in velvet, so I am very happy to see him show back up. I am concerned with the unusually large mass on his neck. I would credit it to fighting and then getting an infection but haven’t seen anything like this before.

He has had a lump on his lower jaw line (you can see in the 1st picture) since the summer when he first showed up on camera. I was wondering if this could have any connection to his neck?

The fact that he is still showing “normal” activity is a testament to Gods creation of these animals and just how strong they are.

Do you have any thoughts on what this might be?

Have a great day!
Joe K.

Joe,

It’s certainly possible that the lump on the buck’s neck is related to a lump on his lower jaw.  I doubt anyone can diagnose the cause of this lump or give an accurate prognosis without examining the deer.  

If you learn more please share with me!

Enjoy creation,

grant

November 9, 2015

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Why do these fawns have different colored coats?

Question
I have a mature doe with two fawns in my backyard that I see almost daily. Watching them lose their spots and growing their winter coats has brought me to a question for you. One fawn has a reddish coat while the other is a dark grey. Both are normal deer colors it’s just obvious they are different when standing together. I thought one was a button buck and the other a doe but yesterday after studying them with binos I realized they both are doe fawns. We’re deer from a different location, at one time, similar in color or where does this come from? Thanks

Bryan,

This is most likely simply an individual difference.  Some deer shed their summer coat earlier (reddish short hair) than others.  Deer were created with red hair during the summer to reflect heat and darker hair during the winter to absorb the sun’s energy.  

I suspect in a week or two both deer will appear close to the same color.

Enjoy creation,

grant

November 5, 2015

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What likely causes brown marks on a buck’s back?

Question
Hello Grant,
While skinning deer this weekend I noticed a mark on their back, under the skin, on top of the white fat. It’s brownish in color and looks almost like a tire tread mark. I’ve notice it on deer before but never thought anything of it. What is this mark!
Thanks
Bryce

Bryce,

If the mark was close the the shoulders I suspect it’s a bruise fighting.  Bucks often get pushed backwards, etc., and their antlers or the antlers of another deer strike their back around the shoulders.  Did you happen to notice if the muscle was bruised also?  

Enjoy creation,

grant

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Can deer obtain minerals from plants?

Question
Dr. Grant Woods,

You are the MAN! I really enjoying learning from your words and actions and I greatly appreciate the time and effort you take to bestow your knowledge on people. I have many many question to ask you and would one day like to come and fellowship with you in Missouri.

Since deer are ruminants(like cattle and goats) and have different digestive systems than humans do they get any minerals at all from the food they ingest or does it all come through they way of ingesting soils?

If they do get some from lets say a food plot you have planted, it would make it even more important to have your calcium and phosphorous levels in your soil at optimum levels to make sure that plant isn’t deficient in those so it would benefit both plant and animal.

Nutrition has always been very interesting to me in both humans and wildlife. I have a very strong interest in wildlife conservation and being a steward of the land. Just enjoying God’s creation right? Thanks Dr. Woods in advance and God Bless.

Garrett

Garrett,

I hope you do join us for one of our Field Events!  I’d enjoy visiting with you.

There’s way more research about cattle mineral needs than deer.  This is because cattle are much easier to research than wild, free-ranging whitetails. I’m confident there’s some overlap between how cattle and deer can obtain minerals.

The University of Georgia does some great research.  The following is from The University of Georgia.

Beef cattle require a number of minerals for optimal growth and reproduction. Selecting the correct mineral supplement is important for maintaining healthy animals, and optimal growth and reproduction. Since high-quality forages and/or grains can furnish a large portion of the required minerals, producers should select supplements that will meet animal requirements and avoid excesses that reduce profits and lead to unnecessary mineral excretion. Minerals not provided by feed can be easily and inexpensively supplied with a simple mineral supplement. A good mineral program for brood cows should cost about $10 to $20 per year. This bulletin provides information on basic mineral nutrition for most forage and feeding programs in Georgia.

Minerals essential to cattle nutrition are classified as either macrominerals or microminerals, depending on whether they are found at levels greater than or less than 100 parts per million (ppm) in the animal’s body.

This and other research is why I use Trophy Rock’s Four65.  Deer rarely require a high volume of minerals but do require a lot of different trace minerals.  Trophy Rock has 60+ trace minerals is almost the exact same concentration as found in mammal’s blood.  

I don’t wish to gamble that all the trace minerals deer at my place need are available in the forage so I keep Trophy Rock’s Four65 out year round.

Enjoy creation,

grant

October 30, 2015

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Are young does more prone to prolapse?

Question
Dr. Grant,
You mentioned that 2nd rut can be attributed to fawn (young does) coming into their 1st estrus. Are young bred does more prone to prolapse?

 

Tom,

I’m not aware of research on the subject of prolapse in deer (of any age class).  I doubt young does are more likely to experience prolapse given healthy young does have a very high successful pregnancy rate.

 

October 28, 2015 

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Is there a dead space between a deer’s spine and the top of the lungs?

Question
Hello,

First off I love the show and have learned more from you in the past year about deer and deer hunting than I have learned in the last 5 years.

This year I have run into some issues and I’m not sure what to make of it. It could be poor shooting or it could be anatomical mishaps.

Is the myth of the “dead space” below the spine and above the lungs? I have hit two deer there this season and one doe we never found and this last buck I hit there I am still searching for.

I have been under the impression the lungs will butt right up against the spine so I thought by shooting from a twenty foot stand at a twenty yard deer I would certainly clip the top of the lungs. I would like to have this myth clarified to avoid anymore mishaps this season and future seasons. Also perhaps you could touch on it next video, as I see many deer hunters confused by this myth.

Thank you very much for your time and I look forward to hearing from you.

Sincerely,

Kevin Urbeck

 

Kevin,

There isn’t normally a “dead space” between a deer’s spine and the top of the lungs.

Deer that are hit high in the lungs can travel a long ways and often don’t bleed much externally.  The high entrance and exit holes results in most blood remaining in the deer.  I recently hit a doe high and she traveled several hundred yards.  It was tough to trail her and I ended up using a dog (legal in Missouri). You can see that shot and entrance and exit holes at:

https://www.growingdeer.tv/archive/#/bow-hunting-cold-front-brings-on-doe-fever

 

October 28, 2015

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Does rain impact how much deer move?

Question
I know cold fronts do, but does rain affect how much deer will move?

Carson,

I have lots of Reconyx videos of deer feeding, etc., during mist to medium rains.  I doubt deer move much during heavy rains. I suspect deer become conditioned to rain just like any other weather or environmental event.  Years ago I was working near Charleston, South Carolina when it snowed eight inches.  I didn’t see any deer tracks and doubt any of the deer alive at the time had ever seen eight inches of snow.  Deer in areas that annually receive snow don’t seem to travel less when only eight inches accumulates.

Enjoy creation,

grant

October 27, 2015

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How long before a doe is in receptive will she leave her fawns?

Question
Hello Grant, family, and staff! How long before a doe is in estrus does she run off her fawns? Thanks

Bryan,

I haven’t researched or read any research about that subject.  I suspect, simply based on field observations, that does won’t leave their fawns until a day or two before they become receptive.

Enjoy creation,

grant

October 27, 2015

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Why are bucks producing “weak” antlers?

Question
Dr. Woods,

Have a local landowner who is seeing a tremendous amount of deer with that are having very inconsistent antler growth. Racks being developed on one side yet other side being very weak. I suggested a few things to him about letting deer age, nutrition, genetics etc.

What he is continuously finding is that deer are weaker in points, mass, length, etc.

Figured I would get your opinion also to share with him.

Thanks

Scott

Scott,

“Weak” antlers are usually a reflection of habitat quality.  Genetics is almost never an issue with deer.  In fact, genetics has never been shown to be a problem with antler development.  

Average body weights for deer harvested will be a good indicator of habitat quality? If the body weights are below average then antler development will likely be less than expected.

Enjoy creation,

grant

October 20, 2015

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Do deer know they are related?

Question
Do deer know if there related? Would a father and son buck fight over a doe ?

Rickey,

I’m not aware of any research on that subject.  There has been research confirming that does often force male fawns out of their home range after they are weaned.  However, there is a much closer bond between a does and her male fawn than a buck and offspring he sired.  I doubt a buck would recognize a another buck he sired.  The buck would simply consider this another buck competing for a receptive doe and wouldn’t hesitate to fight.

Enjoy creation,

grant

October 19, 2015

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What scent gland do deer use to mark overhanging limbs?

Question
Dr Woods, What gland or scent is it that bucks rub on the licking branches of their scrapes? I’ve often heard you teach that the licking branch is the most important part of the scrape. I may buy some scent to help start a scrape and catch some mid-late October video. Thank you.

 

Mark,

Deer lick, rub their forehead glands, and the pre orbital glands on overhanging limbs!  I hope you get some cool video!

Enjoy creation,

grant

October 8, 2015

 

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Why doesn’t this buck have brow tines?

Question
I was wondering if you could educate me on this buck. He’s missing brow tines and I was wondering if this is nutrionally or genetically related or both? He’s in central Texas and has lived through bad drought most of his life. This year was better in the spring and early summer with some rain leading to more food available. Will he continue to improve if the weather provides more food and with some supplemental feeding we have on parts of our property or will he never have brow tines?

Thanks for all of your responses on here and Facebook and the knowledge you share on your videos. My favorite part is how you sign off on each video! I love that you use your talents and platform to honor the One who blessed you with it.

Thanks!
Marcey

Marcey,

Thank you for sharing the encouraging words!

A small percentage of bucks are genetically programed to not produce brow tines.  That doesn’t mean such bucks will pass along this trait because antler potential is strongly linked to the does genetic contribution!  We never know the pedigree of wild deer.  It has been clearly shown that culling doesn’t because the pedigree of the doe or buck isn’t known. j Culling based on antler traits almost always results in fewer bucks that reach maturity and are allowed to express their antler growth potential.

Based on very solid research, I recommend you pass this buck and allow him to mature.  With good herd and habitat conditions I suspect he’ll produce a much better set of antlers in a year or two!

Are there many hogs where you hunt?  I would like to find a place to hunt hogs after deer season.  

Enjoy creation,

grant 

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What’s wrong with this buck?

Question
Hi Grant! I’ve been watching your videos and I love the work you guys do! I do have a question about a deer I have on my camera. I wonder if you could tell me what is wrong with him. I will attach a picture. Thank you!

Cole,

That’s a cool looking buck!  He likely injured his antler pedicle which resulted in non-typical antler growth.  

Enjoy creation,

grant

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What’s wrong with this deer?

Question
Grant,can you explain what on earth I have going on here? And is this the same deer in all four pix? A deer like this was spotted in that area 3 weeks after the last pix and looked perfectly healthy.
I saw a deer like this in Ohio back in the 80’s and also saw one about ten years ago about 10 miles from where these pix were taken.
Just curious as to why this has happened and if it is more than one deer. And anything I should be doing or watching for in the heard.

Thanks,

Wade

Wade,

Wow – that deer looks sick.  There’s no way to accurately diagnose what’s wrong with that deer without handling it. I hope you will share these pics with your local state game agency biologist!  It’s important to identify the cause of sick deer.

Enjoy creation,

grant

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When do deer bred in Franklin county, Mississippi?

Question

I hunt in southwest Mississippi in Franklin county. I would like to know if there
is a way to find out what time the rut will begin. This is a new area of Mississippi
I am hunting and have had no luck finding out thru the internet, please help.

Thank You,

Ryan N, Adams

Ryan,

Both the Mississippi Department of Wildlife and Mississippi State University do some outstanding research with deer.  Check out this link for the average breeding dates throughout Mississippi!

Enjoy creation,

grant

https://www.mdwfp.com/wildlife-hunting/deer-program/deer-breeding-date-map.aspx

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Can deer get conditioned to human scent and not associate it with danger?

Question
My question Is do you think deer can get accustomed to human scent. Like in areas with a high volume of human traffic. Also I was curious if a front leg injury to buck could stunt his antler growth. I’ve watched a buck for three years and he is now believed to be a five year old but I feel his antlers haven’t grown to full potential. He was a 90inch 8pt as a two year old and now my guess is he is about 115-120 8pt as a five year old. He still limps on that leg three years later. Thank you for taking the time to read this. I love watching your videos, I have learned a lot of new things this summer.

Ryan,

Deer can get conditioned to human scent.  This is commonly observed in city parks, etc., where there’s no or very limited threats from humans.  However, such conditioning requires constant exposure to humans and no events that cause deer to associate human scent with danger.  

For comparison, my employees, interns, and I work at The Proving Grounds six days a week year round.  We also hunt the property.  Deer certainly associate human scent with danger here and on most properties were I work.  It takes a lot of exposure to humans with no experiences that alert them for deer to not associate human scent with danger.

Yes – injuries can have a negative impact on antler growth for years.  In addition, some bucks never express more than 120″ of antler development.  You might consider what is the average antler size of five year old bucks in the area.

Enjoy creation,

grant

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What’s wrong with this doe?

Question
Hello sir!
Grant,

I hope you are enjoying the start of deer season. I saw that you are hunting with your father. I hope you enjoy your time and make some great memories.

There is no rush. But when you have a second, could you tell me what you think may be wrong with this deer?

God Bless!

Neil

Neil,

It appears this doe is molting.  Deer shed all their hair twice a year.  During the spring they replace their winter coat with shorter, reddish hair.  This allows deer to remain cooler during the summer.  During the early fall (usually around late August) deer shed the shorter, reddish hair and replace it with a much longer darker hair. The longer hair traps more hair and serves as insulation. The darker cooler absorbs more of the sun’s energy and keeps the deer warmer.  

Enjoy creation,

grant

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How long does it take for a deer population to recover from an H.D. outbreak?

Question
How has the deer herd recovered from your more recent EHD outbreak? The reason I ask is that here in Virginia 2014 was the worst outbreak in recorded history and I wondered what to expect?

Mark,

A severe outbreak of Hemorrhagic disease (H.D.) occurred at The Proving Grounds during 2012.  It was so severe that I got tired of my wife (she really enjoys shed hunting) bringing in skulls versus sheds.  Finding a mature buck was like finding a needle in a haystack during the fall of 2012 and 2013.  There were a few more mature bucks during the 2014 season.  This year there are more mature bucks on the property than any time during my Tracy’s and my ownership of this property (13 years).  

Based on other experiences as a hunter and biologist it seems to take about three years for herds to fully recover from and H.D. outbreak.  The recover rate will be impacted by the amount of hunter harvest after the die-off, predation rates, etc.  

I backed off the doe harvest after the H.D. outbreak and have been aggressively removing predators for years.  This allowed the local deer population to recover rapidly.

Enjoy creation,

grant

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How common are does with antlers?

Question
Dr. Woods –

First off, thank you for taking my question. I was able to check my scouting cameras for the first time after several weeks, and got a couple pictures that were of concern to me. It appears to be a mature doe that has grown a horn. A got several pictures of her and 2 fawns over a month span. Attached are a few pictures. My first question; Is this animal a concern for the other animals in the herd? Does it say anything about the health of the herd? Is this common?

In Indiana a “buck” is a deer that has an antler 3″ of longer. The sex of the animal does not matter. The term that is actually used is “Antlered deer”. Is this the common language for deer regulations in other states?

Thank You
Chad Conwell
Indiana

Chad,

Different studies have shown that about 1 in 10,000 does will produce antlers.  These does have a higher testosterone level than normal. There deer will not cause any harm to the herd and many folks consider antlered does a rare trophy!  

All states that I’m aware consider any deer with an antler 3″ long or longer to be an antlered deer. Harvesting such a deer will require the  use of a buck tag.

Enjoy creation,

grant

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Why does this mature buck have spots along his back?

Question
Any chance you would know why a mature deer would have spots? I recently had a buck on my camera that had whit spots along both sides of his spine. I was just wondering if you had ever seen this, and why he still has them.

Thanks,
Ian Murphy

Ian,

That is odd!  The spots are in the same pattern as those on a fawn.  However, deer molt or shed all their hair twice a year.  This buck has obviously been through several molts.  This buck must have a rare genetic trait that programs him to continue growing hair that shows the fawn spots along his spine.

Thanks for sharing the images of this unique buck!

Enjoy creation,

grant 

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How can I reduce the local tick population?

Question
Hello Dr. Woods,
I\’m blessed to own 637 acres in western Kentucky. We have a fantastic habitat and a very successful deer population. I have several long and short term projects underway to improve the herd health and habitat. The particular issue I\’m reaching out to you on today is parasites.

I\’ve hunted all across Indiana and Illinois, but have never seen an issue with ticks as I have experienced since we purchased this tract in 2011. I\’m sure the population density and more mild winters have contributed but I\’m very interested in curbing the success of this tiny \

Robert,

Congratulations on owning a nice property!  

Except for frequent (the more frequent the better) prescribed fire I’m not aware of a legal method to reduce ticks.  It’s illegal to medicate any wildlife.  I will start testing a legal feed next year and report on GrowingDeer if it reduces ticks at my place.  There are PLENTY of ticks here!

Enjoy creation,

grant

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Has this deer been injured?

Question
What are your thoughts on this deer? Don’t know if this deer has been injured in anyways by looking at the face or something else has happened to it. Thanks

Marcus,

I don’t see any obvious sign of injury on this buck.  He may have injured the right antler base, but that’s not visible in this image. 

Enjoy creation,

grant

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Are our camera surveys accurate?

Question
Hi Grant,
I have a few questions on how you use your trail camera surveys to make management decisions.
I have attached a file of our surveys that we did on our 220 acre lease in south central PA. On this sheet are the numbers for 2012 and 2013 where we did the traditional survey with corn bait and 2014 and 2015 where we did the survey using cameras set on food plots and trails, because our lease is in the CWD management zone so we cannot use bait to do our survey. In 2014 we had 5 cameras and ran the survey for 3 weeks and in 2015 we had 10 cameras and ran the survey for 2 weeks. The cameras are set to a 1 second delay.

As you can see on the 2015 survey we had 31 unique buck on camera in a two week period in the last part of August! This would put our deer per sq. mile at 400, almost double what our survey showed in 2014! These numbers are without adding the 10% that QDMA recommends.

How are these numbers useful to us in managing our property?

Are these number even accurate enough to be useful?

Has anyone done research on doing a survey without bait? Are does going to be photographed more then bucks?

Some additional info about the property is: We have harvested as many does as possible in the past 3 years (about 8 to 10 does and 1 to 2 buck per year) and the numbers just keep climbing. The habitat is not in good condition, it is over grown with bush honeysuckle and autumn olive. But our lease does not allow us to do any timer cuts or invasive species control. The only thing that we can do is plant food plots and we plant about 6 acres of those in a mix of clover, soybeans (soybeans cannot be grown without a fence) and Broadside.

Thank you for any info you can give and God bless.

Winston,

I’m thrilled you are doing camera surveys and tracking data year to year. Year to year comparisons (or trends) are often very useful!

Do you see more deer and/or more deer sign on the lease compared to during 2012?

There are several factors that could explain the trend of an increasing population.

1.  I noticed the fawn recruitment rate increased significantly even during 2012 and 2013 (both years when corn was used as an attractant).  Increasing fawn recruitment rates will allow for deer populations to increase rapidly!

2.  If the neighbors fed and stopped feeding (due to new regulations) deer may be much more attracted to your food plots, at least during certain times of the  year. This could easily explain the increase in number of deer.

3.  I never use a deer population correction factor .  The correction factor won’t solve error. It will simply be same amount of error from year to year.  If the survey yields erroneous data, the data will simply have a 10% larger error if the correction factor is used.  Remember – it’s the trend that’s important – not the actual number of deer. 

4.  If you know you have more deer than quality forage produced on the lease it will be necessary to harvest more does compared to past years.

5.  Have you initiated a predator control program?  My biggest question based on your data is why the fawn recruitment rate has increased so significantly.

Enjoy creation,

grant 

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Does the moon affect when deer feed?

Question
I was wondering if the moon effects the way deer behave like does it effect feeding times and movement. I have read articles on how it does but in some of these articles it also says it effects the timing of the rut which is not true. Thanks

Jeff,

Research scientists have now placed 1,000’s GPS collars on deer.  Some of these studies looked directly at variables that are related to deer movement.  I’m not aware of any of these studies that has found a strong relationship between any aspect of the moon’s orbit (phase, degrees north or south of the earth’s equator, etc.).  You may have noticed that deer in city parks, etc., where they are not hunted often actively feed during midday.  You’ve also probably noticed deer tend to be very active just before and just after weather fronts.  In fact, stronger fronts usually result in more deer sightings.  

Predator avoidance and weather conditions seem to be much stronger determinants of when deer are active/feed than the moon.  

Enjoy creation,

grant 

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Why am I only seeing does and no bucks?

Question
hi grant i was wondering. I have been running 3 cameras since mid june to present and have only seen one buck and that was july 4th. Put a have been see a lot of doe and fawn groups. Would a large doe and fawn numbers keep bucks away? I have moved cameras all over my land mineral sites, food plots, trails apple trees. You name it and still no bucks. This really unusal for my land cause i mange it well and have always seen more bucks by now. the only thing different is the number of doe and fawns i been seeing this year. Any thoughts?
Thanks
Chris

Chris,

Does with young fawns often avoid bucks during the summer.  The two genders act like different species except during the breeding season.  I suspect you’ll start seeing buck sign and bucks soon!  

It’s been a very wet summer here and deer are just starting to change from traditional summer to fall food sources.  If it’s been a good growing season at your place, the bucks may not have switched to the portion of their home range they use during the fall.  If you normally see bucks during the fall I suspect you will again this year.

Enjoy creation!

grant

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What is this growth on the face of this doe?

Question
Grant,
I really love watching your episodes of Growing Deer TV. I have learned so much and it has made me enjoy the sport of hunting and wildlife management even more. That being said, I was going through pictures on my trail camera last night and came across this photo of a doe with a growth on the side of her face. At first it looked like a tick but after looking closer I’m sure it’s a growth of some kind. Just wanted to get your thoughts on it and if it’s something I should be concerned with. Thanks!

Jason

Jason,

Thank you for watching GrowingDeer and for sharing the encouraging words!

The growth on the doe may be a Fibroma.  They rarely cause deer problems. To learn more about Fibromas check out: https://huntfish.mdc.mo.gov/hunting-trapping/hunting-diseases/fibromas-papillomas-warts.

Enjoy creation,

grant

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Is it OK to take mature does with fawns during the early season?

Question
Hey Grant!
I was just wondering your opinion on taking a mature doe out of the herd in early season when she still has a fawn or possible two following her. I have heard different answers on the question. I live in New York and our bow season is oct. 1st. Thank You for your time and your awesome show. God bless you and your family!

Scott

Scott,

Most states set antlerless season dates to insure most fawns are mature enough to survive if the doe is removed.  There can be a few late born fawns in most areas.  If the doe has a young fawn I give her a pass.  Otherwise I start harvesting does on opening day if there’s a need to reduce the deer population in that area.  

Enjoy creation,

grant

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Is August early for deer to be using scrapes in Brooks County, Georgia?

Question
I have a property that I hunt in brooks county ga. I noticed a number of fresh scrapes on the property last week on August 27th.
Isn’t this unusually early as the bucks are still in velvet? Also ..whats the likelihood they were made by mature bucks?
Thanks Craig

Craig,

Deer will use scrapes year round. The frequency of using scrapes increases most just before does are receptive.  Deer often only use the overhanging limb portion of scrapes this time of year.  If the soil is wet, the ground will appear worn under the limb.  

Deer of both genders and all ages uses scrapes to communicate.  Without personal observation or using a trail camera it’s just a guess of the deer’s gender and maturity that are using the scrapes.

Enjoy creation,

grant

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Does this deer have Chronic Wasting Disease?

Question


Aug 30 at 10:10 PM

Hi Grant,

Hello Grant,
I was hoping to pick you brain. The two attached pictures are the same deer approximately 1 week apart. That was a very big doe. She was even healthier looking three weeks ago. She has been absolutely huge. Now she looks like she’s dying. There is another doe that looks like a walking skeleton. Neither doe has had any fawns. The big doe has not had a fawn in three years. She normally looks like a buck with out the proper equipment. Could this be chronic wasting? Also, three of our largest bucks have disappeared after weekly pictures over the last 8 weeks. I’m getting a bit concerned. Thanks for your input.

Regards,

Pete

Pete,

Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) usually takes years before the deer show any signs.  Most of the deer that have tested positive for CWD look normal. 

The symptoms you described sound more like Hemorrhagic Disease (H.D.).  H.D. is a virus that transmitted deer to deer by very small biting flies. Deer that contact the H.D. virus go from looking healthy to dead in a matter of days.  H.D. has been studied for more than 50 years. There is currently no vaccine and epidemics of H.D. have occurred throughout the whitetail’s range.  Deer herd’s always bounce back from H.D.

CWD is 100% fatal and a very serious threat to deer.  You can learn more about CWD at http://www.CWD-info.org.

It the deer are dying from CWD – that’s a major game changer for you and all of your neighbors.  I suggest you contact you local state wildlife biologist if you find any fresh deer carcasses.

Hoping for the best,

grant

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What causes deer to have a club foot?

Question
Dr. Grant Woods I’ve been following your youtube channel for quite some time now doing, and learning alot of stuff from you, and your team! Excellent work by the way! I also incorporate them into what I do. On today’s video I notice you showed a pic of a buck that looks like mine I call “Club Foot”. I’m wondering if you could please tell me what this is? I will post more pics of my Iowa giant in the comments. This picture I believe was late July early August. Thank you so much for your time, effort, and tips from you, and your team I truly hope to meet you one day, and shake your hand.

Joe,

Thank you for the kind words!  We offer a lot more information at GrowingDeer.com than we can on YouTube. We release a new episode every Monday about 6:30am Central time.

Deer, it seems bucks more than does, tend to break their foot just above their hooves.  I don’t know if this is from fighting, chasing etc.  I’ve cut into a few of these on tagged bucks and they always appear to be a calcified joint or bone.  I’m always amazed at how well deer can survive with such injuries.

I hope our paths cross soon!

Enjoy creation,

Grant

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How old is this buck?

Question
Hi Grant,

I grabbed this picture from my trail cam Monday. Can you estimate the age of this buck by the picture? I’m thinking 4-5 yrs old. ( by the signs you say to look for on the show )

Thanks
Lee

leeimage1

Lee,

The buck in your picture appears to have a swayed back, pot-belly, and his chest sags below where his shoulders meets his legs.  In addition, his shoulders and hams are very well developed.  These are all indicators that the buck is four years old or older. He’d certainly be on my hit list!  

I hope you have a great encounter with him!  

Enjoy creation!

grant

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Is this the same buck?

Question
Dear Dr. Grant this is a buck I hunted last year that I was unsuccessful at harvesting. He is obviously a mature buck. There is two pictures here. The one on the left is last year, and the one on the right is this year. (see pic dates) Do you think this is the same deer? They seem to share characteristics, but if this is the same deer he has lost quite a few inches. Thanks! God bless!!

It appears to be the same buck based on antler configuration. Specifically the buck in each picture shares the same shape of the left brow tine. However, without genetic testing there’s no way to be certain. Either way it’s a neat mature buck that would be on my hit list!

Enjoy creation!
Grant

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Is the Mississippi State research that tested whether antler size is limited by genetics or environment factors available in a written publication?

Question
Any chance we can get a hard copy or emailed pdf of the MSU study?

Thanks,

Marc

The results of the recent research by scientists at Mississippi State University that we shared (https://www.growingdeer.tv/#/whitetail-antlers-and-genetics-fact-or-fiction) hasn’t been published yet.  It is to be published soon and we’ll share a link to that publication when it’s available.

Enjoy creation!

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Can deer be conditioned to accept a specific odor?

Question
Grant,

Is it possible to condition a deer to a specific smell? for example Could you apply your scent cover at your stand year round and condition a deer to that particular smell? Where I hunt the wind swirls almost always. I know that the best option would be to have a sealed blind.

Deer in research facilities do become conditioned to accept and not become alerted to certain individuals or smells that would alert wild deer.  

Deer have an incredible sense of smell.  I suspect they can be conditioned to accept any cover scent. However, when the hunter was present the deer would most likely smell the human and cover sent.  I don’t believe the cover scent will mask all odors given off by the hunter – including the hunters breath, ongoing death of bacteria, etc.  

Cover scents have been around for decades and still hunters commonly get busted by deer.

Enjoy creation!

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Why do some deer seem to have fewer ticks?

Question
In my trail cam picks I notice that the larger bucks have fewer ticks between the shoulder blades and on the ears as many of the does and smaller bucks. Is this cause or effect? Are they healthier because they don’t have ticks – or do they keep ticks off because they are healthier? Why are some deer’s ears and shoulder blades just dripping with ticks, but not others in exact same area?

Thanks!
Rev. H. R. Curtis
Worden, IL

I’ve had the same observation here at The Proving Grounds!  For example, one of the larger antlered bucks here now is Chainsaw.  We’ve shown several video clips of him.  It appears Chainsaw has fewer ticks than other bucks and does of the same age class and using the same areas.

I assume for reason Chainsaw doesn’t attract ticks as much as the other deer in the area.  This is only a assumption and I’m not aware of any biological facts to support this assumption.

For comparison, Adam is younger and probably healthier than me.  When we work side by side we seem to get about the same number of ticks – as does the rest of our Team.  

If you learn more on this subject, please share it with me!  

Enjoy creation! 

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How old is this buck?

Question
Im here to ask you how old these deer is in the attached pictures are, I hunt a 500 acre area my grandparents own in Morgan county Ohio, only being 17 I have harvested several 130” deer but want something more mature and bigger.

Heavy 8 (2) Heavy 8 (4) Lucky 13 (106) Lucky 13 (114)

I typically only estimate the age of one buck per question. I’ll spend some time analyzing the first buck (color pics).
This buck’s neck merges with his chest in the brisket area.  There appears to be a hump over his shoulder and his chest sags below where his legs merge with his shoulders.  These are all good indicators this buck is 4 or older.  He’d be on my wish list!  I hope you have a great encounter with him!
 
Enjoy creation!
Grant

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How do you age a doe (female white-tailed deer)?

Question
I love your videos, and can’t wait to always see the next one. I consider myself your student. You give good advice on how to discern a mature buck, but where I hunt (Michigan farmland – a veritable paradise for a deer hunter) doe control is necessary, and I also prefer doe meat. I’d prefer to shoot a mature doe to an immature one, when a doe hunt is on. How can one discern a mature doe on the fly and at a distance? I’m sure you’re too busy to reply, but I don’t doubt many of your viewers would be happy to see an episode, or part of an episode, on that topic. May God bless and keep you and your loved ones.

Thank you for watching GrowingDeer and for asking God to bless our Team!

Tracy, the kids, and I all enjoy venison! Tracy’s a great cook and we consume 10+ does each year! So you and I have the same goals.

Just like with humans, does tend to show their age by changing body shape as they mature in patterns similar to bucks. As does mature their posture goes from very straight to having a swayed back and sags in the belly region. Does don’t have plastic surgery so changes due to age are probably more pronounced and constant than female humans express. In addition most does will produce fawns each year so they show similar signs of aging compared to humans as some ladies bare a lot of children while others very few or none. In addition most does give birth as yearlings or as two year old does. The age humans produce the first child is highly variable.

I tend to age does on the hoof as immature, prime, and elderly based on the shape of their body.

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When do bucks shed their antlers in NY state or Ontario, Canada?

Question
When do bucks shed their antlers in NY state or Ontario, Canada?

Jim

It’s common for bucks that are healthy to hold their antlers until mid March or so. There’s so much ag in eastern Kansas that I suspect the bucks are very healthy in your area.

Bucks, does, and fawns will use licking branches (the branches overhanging scrapes) year round. In addition, female fawns often become receptive when they reach about 70 pounds. There are probably some receptive fawns causing bucks to display rut behavior in your area.

After the majority of rutting behavior is over and the testosterone level of bucks begins to decrease they often get together in bachelor groups and will remain in these groups till they begin shedding their velvet next fall.

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Is it normal for the bucks in eastern Kansas to still have antlers in early March?

Question
I noticed that a lot of bucks are still holding their antlers here in eastern Kansas and there are still active scrapes. Is this common to have active scrapes this time of year? The bucks are running in packs like a bachelor group, is this also common?

It’s common for bucks that are healthy to hold their antlers until mid March or so. There’s so much ag in eastern Kansas that I suspect the bucks are very healthy in your area.

Bucks, does, and fawns will use licking branches (the branches overhanging scrapes) year round. In addition, female fawns often become receptive when they reach about 70 pounds. There are probably some receptive fawns causing bucks to display rut behavior in your area.

After the majority of rutting behavior is over and the testosterone level of bucks begins to decrease they often get together in bachelor groups and will remain in these groups till they begin shedding their velvet next fall.

Thanks for watching GrowingDeer.tv!

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What do deer eat when there’s snow on the ground?

Question

I love watching your weekly shows. I have a rather odd question. Where snow accumulation gets real high, 15″ or better, do you suppose turkeys will ingest deer droppings? I told you it was odd! I know there is odd forage above the deep snow that turkeys may resort to. I have a debate with a friend, he thinks they do. I know where deer have dug deep to find corn, can the turkeys still manage to find something left behind? I also know turkeys have fat stored, I believe it is 2 weeks they can go without food and 5 days max without water. If the trap line is slow and the deer hunting has ended, do a segment on turkeys in deep snow!

Nathan

I’ve never seen or read about turkeys consuming deer pellets. Deer are efficient at removing food value through their digestive track and there wouldn’t be much nutrient value in their droppings. However, if a turkey was starving they’d probably try anything! Turkeys certainly consume a very wide variety of foods – from small snakes to lots of types of vegetation! Wicked cold weather and frozen deep snow that they can’t scratch through has certainly been reported to cause turkeys to die. Let’s hope the brutal conditions change soon!

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Do you field dress the deer or do you make it a practice not to do it in the field for a reason?

Question
 I noticed when loading the deer your father killed it was not field dressed (gutted). By the way, God bless the times you have with your father. My father has passed and I miss the times we had together. Congratulations to him on his hunt! So I was wondering, do you field dress the deer or do you make it a practice not to do it in the field for a reason? I always field dress not far from the location of the kill. Thanks for your advice on this subject. Take care and have a wonderful new year! Be safe! Rich 

I truly enjoy such spending time with my dad! We really enjoyed that hunt!!! My house is just up the hill from where we were hunting – so I took the buck to the house to weigh, etc., and have a clean source of water to dress and remove the meat. Thanks for watching GrowingDeer.tv and stay warm!

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What causes a buck’s antlers to shed?

Question

First off I would like to tell you how much I like what your are doing on your website and videos. Also, I have caught some interviews with Christian Berg from Petersen’s Bowhunting. Most recently with Korby Taylor, truly great stuff, I really enjoy listening to you. I have an interesting question about antler drop. I live in a unique state for whitetail (Florida). We have the most diverse rut in the US. In fact in Polk County (where I lease) we have yet to have breeding take place (based on the fawn births), while other areas have long since completed. My question is antler drop. My deer rub off the velvet in the 1st week of October. Breeding takes place in……mid/late February. There are already areas in the state (south and north of me 60 miles) that already bred, and have just dropped. I have pics from bucks (most recent was 2 weeks ago) with their antlers. The loooong winded question……what determines the drop in a “normal” non-stressed environment? End of breeding? A set time (i.e. 90 days)? I never thought much about it until now. I am also wondering, can and will they breed (primary phase) well after they drop? Thanks for any time and answers you may provide.

Sincerely, Bo

I agree – Florida is unique! Antler drop is a function of increasing day length and decreasing testosterone. The increasing day length is like a starter cue. This sets the process in action. However, bucks will hold antlers as long as their testosterone is above a threshold. Bucks that get injured, etc., often drop much earlier than healthy bucks. The rate of day length increase is close to the same throughout Florida – but the testosterone levels very significantly as does are mostly bred in some areas and haven’t started becoming receptive in other areas. No one (that I’m aware) fully understands why deer follow the breeding patterns they do in Florida.

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What happened to this buck?

Question
I shot an 8 point buck on day 2 of Missouri’s deer season. He was a 3 year old, I think. The buck’s testes were the size of a peanut shell. Past deer, and even smaller deer, had much bigger testes. I’m wondering if this deer could even breed. What could have happened? He also had a swollen lower left leg but his rack was normal. Thanks for any feedback.  Jeff 

Congrats on harvesting a mature buck! It sounds as if the buck has been injured. Bucks with messed up testes almost always have a deformed/non-typical rack. I suspect he was injured after he shed his velvet and before you harvested him.

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How much protein does a deer need and use?

Question

I have a question that I need your advice concerning maximum protein utilization requirements for whitetails. Does a deer have a % limit that can be metabolized and any amount over that provides no benefit? In other words if a deer has access to nutrients of 30 % + protein can it all be beneficial/utilized for physical development regardless of sex or age? Please share your thoughts with me on this topic if my question makes sense. Where do you get these answers to learn more about this topic? I sure enjoy your info on GrowingDeer.tv!!

Harrison

Harrison,

To my knowledge, Cargill (huge feed company that researches and sells to the whitetail market under the brand Sportsmen Choice) has the largest whitetail nutrition research program. There is lots of good information on their website.

Grant

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What Are The Signs Of Chronic Wasting Disease?

Question

Tomorrow is the opening day for section 4E tomorrow in PA for the firearm season. I read that the disease is starting to spread into PA. What signs can I look for in deer when they are on the hoof and after I shoot one? If I see one that shows symptoms of it should I shoot it? What should I do with it if I do get one that has it, worst case scenario?

Thank You,

Logan

Logan,

The incidence rate of CWD will be very low in your area. The odds of you seeing or harvesting a deer with CWD are extremely low. I compliment you for desiring to be prepared! The best information about CWD can be found at the link here.

Deer in the early stages of CWD show no overt signs. They appear normal. Deer often incubate CWD for years. Deer that are closer to dying with CWD appear droopy, weak, not alert, etc. They will appear sick. Such deer (whether harvested or not) should be immediately reported to the local game and fish department. If you harvest such a deer, submit it to the local game and fish for testing.

CWD has never been shown to be transmitted to humans – NEVER. However, it’s always smart to wear gloves with dressing deer and not cut through the spinal column or other areas of the primary nervous system. I usually simply debone deer.

Don’t let the news scare you about CWD – check the link I shared and enjoy hunting!

Grant

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Skin Growth Identification

 

Question
Grant,

I checked my trail camera this morning and found a video of a buck with a black ball hanging from its jaw area. Do you have any idea what it might be?

On another note, I really enjoy GrowingDeer.tv!

Thanks!

Jared

 

 

Jared,

Thanks for the kind words and for watching GrowingDeer.tv!

I suspect the “ball” on the buck is a fibroma that has become detached from the skin.  You may wish to check out the information online at The Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks website.

If the deer is harvested and you find out something different, please let me know.

Growing Deer together,

Grant

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What data should be collected while deer hunting?

Question
I just purchased your book, “Deer Management 101: Manage Your Way to Better Hunting”, and I’m reading it at this time.  You mention keeping a log or journal.  I have been keeping a hunting/work journal for years.  I never seem to have all the information I need on my journal pages.  When you are gathering information on your property what are the main things you record?  Thanks for all the great information you provide.

Ron

Ron,

I record the date, start and stop time of each hunt (morning and afternoon).  I record the time in military style so morning and afternoon are never confused.  I also record where I hunt based on a grid system, I don’t use stand names as stand names change from time to time.  I also record the number of bucks, does, fawns, and unidentified deer observed.  I differentiate between antlered bucks and male fawns.  I also am very careful to never assume!  If I can’t positively identify the deer, I list it as an unidentified.  Typically about 30% of the deer I observe are listed as unidentified.

I don’t record moon phase, temperature, etc,. as all of those data are available from the Nation Weather Service.  I find the basic information, such as I described above, is more useful than detailed information that doesn’t allow me to see the big picture.  On some of my research projects where I’m attempting to address specific questions, my staff and I collect additional data.

In addition to observation data, I collect harvest data (age, body weights, etc.).  I’m a huge fan of using trail camera surveys to monitor a herd’s population demographics.

Growing Deer together,

Grant

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What is the size of the home range for white-tailed deer?

Question
Do deer stay within a 2 mile radius from where they are born?

I love your show!

Zack

Zack,

Some deer do stay within a few miles of where they were born and others move many miles.  There are several factors that determine if and how far a deer disperses from its place of birth.  Male fawns are usually forced to disperse from their mother’s home range.  If the doe dies before it is time for the male fawn to disperse, he tends to remain in the same area where he was born.  This is one advantage of harvesting does!

If the doe is alive and she forces the young male to disperse, the distance he will travel is influenced by the quality of the habitat, the local deer herd density, predator population, and several other factors.  As biologists learn more about deer by using GPS collars and other neat tools, we are discovering that deer are like humans in that each one is a unique individual.  The averages often quoted for home range size, distance of dispersal, etc., rarely closely represent a large percentage of the population due to the individual nature of deer.

Growing Deer together,

Grant

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Sources of Deer for Restocking

 

Question
What sub species of white-tailed deer is in Reynolds County, Missouri?  When my dad was young he said he talked to a man that was restocking deer out of Wisconsin for the Conservation Department.  What do you know about this?

Matt

 

 

Matt,

There is a good book available through the Quality Deer Management Association about the restocking of white-tailed deer throughout their range.  The authors collected records from most states, including Missouri, to document the sources of deer used to restock and how many were released.  It seems there are gads and gads of stories about the fabulous restocking effort, but the book by the Quality Deer Management Association is the best collection of accurate information on the subject that I’m aware of.  Most of the deer restocked in Missouri were from remnant populations in Missouri.  In fact, they restocked 2,292 deer trapped from within Missouri and 356 from Michigan and Minnesota.  There were most likely some unrecorded events of citizens moving deer as well.

It is interesting that deer in northern Missouri were mainly stocked from existing populations in southern Missouri.  The large difference observed now between body and antler development in northern Missouri compared to southern Missouri is simply the vast difference in land use practices (ag crops in the central and northern counties compared to predominate timber and fescue pasture in the southern counties).  Deer in most counties south of I-44 simply can’t express their potential because of the low quality food available in this area.

Growing Deer together,

Grant

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What effects the timing of buck scrapes and rubs?

Question
Dr. Grant,

While turkey hunting south/central Georgia this weekend I found plenty of fresh scrapes.  Why is that? Also, during the pre-rut we have bucks leaving plenty of scrapes, but just a few rubs.  Then in January after all the breeding is done our bucks go crazy rubbing trees.  Do you find that odd?

Keep up the good work!!

Kevin

Kevin,

Fawns in deer herds with access to good nutrition will reach puberty (approximately 70 pounds) in Georgia before and during the opening of the spring turkey season.  The female fawns that reach their first estrous cycle during that time of year cause the bucks to express rutting behavior.  Rutting behavior rarely occurs this time of year in areas without ag crops or good food plots.

I’m not sure about the timing of rubs on your property.  It could be that bucks are shifting their range a bit and more bucks are present on your property during January.  This could be caused by local farmers harvesting their crops and your food plots are providing the best food in the neighborhood during that time of year.

Growing Deer together,

Grant

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Mineral in Illinois

Question
I really enjoyed your seminar at the NWTF Convention.  My question is about CWD in Illinois.  The DNR is shooting all the deer in areas where CWD has been detected.  There have been a couple of cases in JoDavies County where my farm is.  Should I put out Trophy Rocks?  Would that be dangerous for the herd?

Pat

Pat,

Thank you for the kind words!  I believe it is illegal to place any mineral supplement or bait for deer in Illinois (always check the local regulations).

Growing Deer together,

Grant

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Do Deer Have a Learning Curve

Question
What do you know of the relationship between deer utilization of a food plot planted in a common local ag crop vs. a crop not grown in the area.  Are there observed delays in deer utilizing the foreign crop?  For example, I planted Iron Clay Cowpeas in a three acre plot and got zero utilization. With the exception of winter wheat there are no ag crops anywhere close to me.  I assume that the food source was foreign to the deer and that contributed to the lack of deer browsing.  Have you ever seen a delay in deer utilizing a crop that is not a common food source?  Will deer eventually figure it out after multiple seasons of planting?  Although I plan to plant Eagle Seed beans this year, local seed stores are baffled when I tell them that the deer did not eat the Iron Clay Cowpeas.  Thanks for any insight!

Jamie

Jamie,

I had the same experience when I first planted soybeans at The Proving Grounds!  There are no soybeans within a couple of counties in any direction of me, and during the first two years I planted soybeans I couldn’t tell that a single leaf had been removed by deer.  Now they readily consume them.  Deer certainly can and will learn to consume new forage types.  It’s up to the landowner to decide if the variety of forage he is planting has enough benefit to weather the duration of the learning process.  I felt (and still do) that Eagle Seed Forage Soybeans were so productive and high in nutritive value that weathering the learning process was well worth the wait!

Growing Deer together,

Grant

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How do I manage my small property for the best deer hunting?

Question
Hi Dr. Grant,

If you have really small tracts of land, 80 acres to 1 acre, how would you go about managing it?

Shane (central Minnesota)

Shane,

I usually start by identifying if food, water, or cover is the most limiting factor in the neighborhood.  I do this by combining information gathered from using Google Earth and driving around the neighborhood.  If one of these critical habitat elements is limited in availability, I begin by establishing that resource on the property I’m managing.  I also attempt to determine the amount of hunting pressure locally, and how that might impact deer activity in the neighborhood.  I also insure when I hunt the property, my approach to the stand doesn’t alert deer to my presence.  That often means approaching using a non-direct route such as walking the border 1/2 way around the property so I can approach with the wind in my face.  Don’t forget that the smaller the property, the more critical sanctuaries may be.  Deer need an area where they always feel secure.  By providing this on your land, deer are more likely to spend the days on your property.  Having deer present on your property during daylight hours is a huge advantage!

Growing Deer together,

Grant

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Where do Deer Drink during Freezing Conditions

Question
I was watching the most recent episode (GDTV 65) and you were mentioning the use of minerals at The Proving Grounds, even though the pond was frozen and forage was dry with little moisture.  Being from the Southeast, we don’t have to worry about long periods of sub-freezing weather and key water sources being frozen.  The view of the frozen pond and dried forage got me wondering.  Where do deer get their water requirements from in the winter months in areas where the water sources may freeze over for longer periods and all the forage is dried out?

Curious, but not envious,

Phil

Phil,

In the areas where I work, there always seems to be a spring, or some source of water that is not frozen.  I’m not sure if all the water sources at a specific location freeze if deer will consume snow, but I suspect they would.  Deer, and other critters, also will break through ice with their paws to get to water.  Once the water source is opened, it would be easier to reopen daily.  With deer surviving in areas of Canada where winter conditions are severe and prolonged, deer obviously can survive in much harsher conditions than what I experience at The Proving Grounds!  At least we have several months where mosquitoes are not a factor!

Growing Deer together,

Grant

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Separate Buck, Doe, and Fawn Bedding Areas

Question
Hello Grant,

I look forward to watching GrowingDeer.tv every week.  I’m sure it’s not easy, you and your team do a great job.

I’ve heard of people making separate buck bedding areas, doe bedding areas, and fawning areas.  What are they?  How would you make them?  I can’t imagine getting a wild deer to bed exactly where you want them to.

Thank you for your time.

Kasey

Kasey,

I’ve also heard of buck, doe, and fawn bedding areas.  However, I have no idea how to create gender-specific bedding area.  In areas where bucks receive more hunting pressure than does, they tend to bed in areas with thicker cover.  However, in areas where the harvest pressure is even, I’ve never noticed a difference between the characteristics of a buck or doe bedding area.  Bucks will typically be more solitary than doe/fawn groups.  I’ve certainly never noticed fawns bedding in different areas than does once the fawn is mobile and able to follow the doe.  I’m skeptical of these claims, but am willing to learn if anyone wishes to share!

Growing Deer together,

Grant

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Which Side Sheds First

Question
I have noticed antler sheds earlier than normal on our property.  Most of them are young bucks but what is really strange is the 7 I found were right sides only.  I asked my friend about this and he wasn’t sure what it meant but told me to ask you!! Is this something we should be concerned about as we move forward?

Dave

Dave,

I’m not aware of any research that reports which side deer shed first.

From bucks I’ve watched in captivity, I’ve never noticed a bias for shedding the left or right antler first.  I strongly suspect your observations are coincidental.  Keep looking and you will probably find the other sheds from those bucks.

Growing Deer together,

Grant

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Feeding Corn to Deer During the Late Season

Question
Hi Grant,

I love your show and the way you are not just killing deer, but managing them.

I’ve been hearing a lot about not putting out corn and corn piles for the deer later in the year.  People are saying the deer can’t break it down and they burn more energy then they get.  Is this true?

Thanks for the shows,

Joe

Joe,

Deer don’t really digest any foods.  They ingest the food, and then bacteria in their rumen (gut) digest the foods.  These populations of bacteria are somewhat specific to the type of food they breakdown.  For example, if deer haven’t had access to corn, the bacteria that digest starching foods will significantly decrease in population.  If a deer ingests a lot of corn while the appropriate bacteria populations are low, the corn can’t be digested and the deer will die with a tummy full of corn.

If the deer haven’t been consuming corn, then either don’t start or start feeding only very small amounts.  The deer will literally have to grow the appropriate bacteria before gaining any benefit from the corn.

Growing Deer together,

Grant

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Average Amount of Antler Growth Expressed by Age Class

Question
Grant,

On average how much does a buck usually gain in antler growth each year?

Greg

Greg,

I’m glad you phrased your question by starting with “on average…”  Each buck is an individual just like humans.  For example, I was the tallest kid in my first grade class.  However, I didn’t even make the freshman basketball team.  Different individuals (human or deer) will express their growth potential at different ages.  However, Mississippi State published the following data years ago that represents the average amount of antler growth potential expressed by several bucks in their research program.

I suspect the trends would apply to free-ranging, wild herds as well.  There is no doubt about it, allowing bucks to mature to at least four years of age will allow most bucks to express more of their antler growth potential.

Growing Deer together,

Grant

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Aging Deer by the Lower Jaw

 

Question
I have a deer jawbone I saved from my son’s buck a few years ago.  Can I send it to you and have you age it?

Kable

Kable,

Unfortunately, I don’t accept jaws to age.  If I did, I would receive literally 1,000’s through the mail.  I hope there is a good biologist close to you that can provide an accurate estimate.  There are gads of good illustrations and descriptions about how to age deer using their lower jaw online.  One such source is the University of Missouri Extension.

Growing Deer together,

Grant

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Identify the tracks

Question
While walking through the woods the other day, I noticed paw prints inside the deer tracks.  They were inside the deer tracks and every so many feet they took a rest and then proceeded.  What type of animal would track this way?

Thanks,

Greg

Greg,

Without clear pictures, I can only assume based on the description provided.  Bobcats typically place their paws very close together and their hunting style often includes stopping frequently.  My best guess would be the critter was a bobcat.  Were the tracks more circular?  If so, that also indicates the critter was a bobcat.  Most other predator tracks are more oblong or even rectangular.

Growing Deer together,

Grant

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Using Genetics to Match Sheds

Question
Hi Grant,

I was just wondering how one would go about having samples taken from sheds to see if a deer is a match from one year to the next.  Also, is this process costly or time consuming?

Thank you and keep up the great work!

Bobby

Bobby,

Most folks that attempt to use genetic testing to match sheds (bones, etc.) remove a small amount (the dust from a drilling a small hole) from the bases.  The most recent cost I was quoted for such research was about $65.00 per sample.  The samples must be collected, labeled, and shipped appropriately so the lab can process them efficiently.

Growing (and researching) Deer together,

Grant

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Normal Date for Bucks to Shed

Question
I was out coyote hunting in northern Indiana on March 5th and I saw a nice 12 point buck that had not lost any of his rack yet.  Is this normal?

Thomas

Thomas,

In general the healthier bucks are the longer they will carry their antlers through winter.  I’ve seen bucks that haven’t shed during mid-April.  It sounds like you were blessed to observe a very healthy buck!  Bucks that don’t have enough quality food or that have been injured will typically shed much earlier during the winter.

Growing Deer together,

Grant

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Why Bucks Shed

Question
A week ago one of my buddies found a dead buck in his woods that had already lost his antlers. He found one of his sheds a few feet away and another in a brush pile 50 feet away.  The buck was either a two or a three year old.  Is there any reason to why this would be?

Evan

Evan,

Wow, that’s a neat observation!  I doubt anyone can explain exactly what happened to that buck. However, in general, bucks shed when their body conditions drops below a certain threshold (release of antlers is caused by a change in hormone levels).  The buck was obviously not in prime condition during late winter.  As to exactly what happened, I doubt we will ever know.  Some theories would include he shed and was coincidentally killed by a predator or was injured which caused him to shed and was trying to find cover in a brush pile and died from his injuries.  Again, these are simply theories!

Growing Deer together,

Grant

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Past Episodes of GrowingDeer.tv

Question
Hi Grant,

Great job on GrowingDeer.tv, I can’t wait until Monday when I get the new video to watch.  I’m wondering if you have the trapping video available from 2010 (GDTV 10)?  I’ve started trapping raccoons and I remember that you had some great information.

Thanks,

Dan

Dan,

Thank you for the kind words!  All of the past episodes of GrowingDeer.tv are available on the website.  Simply click on the word “videos” on the top navigation bar.  You can find past episodes by topic, or review all the past episodes on this page.

Growing Deer together,

Grant

 

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Where is the best place to hunt to find a buck’s shed antlers?

Question
Grant,

I don’t know if you remember but I contacted you earlier in bow season about a buck that disappeared on me.  Well, he is smart.  I didn’t get any pictures of him from September until the end of muzzle loader season.  I had a few encounters with him and my bow but no luck.  Any tips for finding his sheds?

Paul

Paul,

The trick in finding shed antlers is knowing where he is spending most of his time during antler casting season.  After the breeding season this is in two primary locations – bedding and feeding areas.  Find these locations by looking for fresh scat and tracks, which is easier than ever since nothing is growing.  I also keep my trail cameras out over heavily used food plots so I can see when individual bucks are shedding their antlers, narrowing down when/where I should be searching.  Once these areas are located it’s just a matter of searching and sometimes researching likely areas.

My wife, Tracy, has been training a lab puppy to search for antlers.  The mineral content in antlers is unique among bones.  A dog’s nose is much better than human eyes, so if you get serious about finding sheds, consider training a dog as they will cover much more ground and most folks really enjoy watching a trained dog work.

Growing Deer together,

Grant

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Can the antler potential of a mature buck be estimated?

Question
Grant,

We found a matched set of sheds from a main frame 6 x 6 (12 pt) with a gross score of 151.5 without a spread measurement.  You can see them on the Missouri blog at Midwest Whitetail.  We know the buck was a 6 year old this year.  He was coming off a hard winter with no acorns, food plots were eaten off by the first of December, and drought conditions last summer yet he was still able to grow that much horn.  This year we had a bumper crop of acorns, food plots were not hit hard until mid January and in our area we haven’t had as hard of a winter as last year.  If the worst of winter is behind us and we have average or better rainfall this spring and summer, how many inches could this buck add to his rack?  We are located about 150 miles northeast of The Proving Grounds.  Our farm is about 600 acres, with 100 acres of mixed clover hayfields and 20 acres of food plots (wheat, brassicas, clover, and chicory).  Thanks for your help, hope I didn’t kill you with the details!

Ben

Ben,

Deer, like humans, can mature at different rates.  For example, I was the tallest kid in my fifth grade class.  By my freshman year in high school, I wasn’t close to being the tallest in my class.  The same trend is true with deer.  Most follow an average growth and maturation rate.  However, some will express more of their antler growth potential early and some will blossom late in life.  On average, wild, free-ranging deer have expressed most of their antler growth potential by the time they reach six years of age.  However, there are many factors such as weather conditions, wounds, etc., that can cause an individual buck to express more or less of his antler growth potential during any given year.  I hope in 2011 this buck will express more of his antler growth potential.

Growing Deer together,

Grant

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Can Salt Harm Deer?

Question
Many people are putting out salt blocks, or in some cases water softener salt, for deer.  I’ve always been taught that too much sodium can actually harm the digestive process of deer or cause them to drink so much water that it can replace nutrients. Is this true?

Thanks,

Dean

Dean,

I never worry about deer consuming too much salt.  Most critters, including deer, need a lot of salt for their bodies to function properly.  I’m not aware of any cases of free-ranging deer consuming too much salt.  That would be hard to monitor, but with all the salt available from cattle licks, gas and oil drilling, etc., there is a lot of salt available in many areas yet no reports of deer suffering from ingesting too much salt.

I am concerned about some sources of salt that folks make available to deer.  Salt marketed for different purposes often has different additives to make it flow better, bleached to make it a different color, etc.  It is certainly possible that these additives could be detrimental to deer and other wildlife.  Therefore, I only use feed grade salt for wildlife.  I personally use Trophy Rock as it has 60+ trace minerals.  Although deer only need very small quantities of trace minerals to express their full fawn and antler growth potential, without them included in their diet, they simply can’t express their full genetic potential.  Therefore, when supplying salt to deer, attempt to use a product that is food grade quality and has as many different trace minerals as practical.

Growing Deer together,

Grant

 

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Why am I getting trail camera photos of spotted fawns in November and December?

Question
Hello,

We hunt in north central Mississippi.  For several years now I have caught pictures of fawns born really late on my trail cameras.  I have pictures of some (but not all) fawns still with spots and/or suckling milk from their mother in November and December.   What biologically can be going on with these late fawns?  It seems to me that it can’t be a good thing.  Any thoughts would be greatly appreciated.

Thanks so much!!

Denton

Denton,

Fawns are typically born late in portions of Mississippi and Alabama.  As a manager, I worry more about the duration than the timing of fawning season.  If you are seeing small, spotted fawns for more than three consecutive months it may be an indicator that the adult sex ratio is skewed toward does.  This would result from an extended rut and therefore fawns being born over an extended period of time.  This has several negative ramifications for the herd including allowing predators to key in on fawns and abnormally high stress on bucks.  You, and all deer managers, need to collect simple harvest data to monitor the herd’s health and be able to make sound, site-specific management decisions.  Herds with characteristics as described above usually have lower body weights than normal for the local habitat.  Collect some simple, but accurate data and you can make some good assessments of the herd’s health and appropriate changes to the deer and habitat program.

Growing Deer together,

Grant

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Can Deer Digest Hay in the Winter?

Question

We just received 2 feet of snow.  Would it be a good idea to put out a few bales of hay for the deer?  Or would it actually harm the deer because their digestive systems can’t handle the hay this time of the year?

Thanks,

Don

Don,

Great question that currently applies to much of the whitetails’ range!

Providing feed that deer are not used to digesting, especially when they are stressed, can cause them great harm or result in death.  This is because deer only ingest the food (which they will gladly do during periods of stress), bacteria populations that live in their gut perform most of the digestion.  There are many species of bacteria in a deer’s gut and each species is somewhat specific to digesting different types of food.  Food sources in nature tend to become available and unavailable slowly over time.  For example, a few acorns will fall early and then more and more will fall until the supply will taper off.  The species of bacteria that helps digest acorns increases and decreases in population density in accordance with the quantity of acorns ingested.  However, when food resources are very limited, the population of bacteria decreases significantly.

If a deer herd that is stressed by a significant amount of snow suddenly finds a rich food source such as grain or high quality hay, they will consume large quantities.  However, they won’t have an adequate amount of bacteria in their digestive tract to digest the ingested food.  This is why deer given emergency supplemental food during periods of winter stress often die with a stomach full of the food provided by folks with great intentions.  All supplemental feeding programs should start slowly and be very closely monitored (if started at all).  This is especially true during periods of stress such as during winter storms.

You were wise to ask first!

Growing Deer together,

Grant

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Shed Antlers

Question

Hi Grant,

Do you think this shed is from this season or last season?

Thanks,

Walter

Walter,

The shed looks very clean to me.  Rodent populations vary in density throughout the whitetails range, but it’s rare that rodents, coyotes, etc., don’t leave some teeth marks during 12 months.  Given that, I think it’s a good assumption that the shed was dropped recently.

Growing Deer together,

Grant

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Mineral Rocks

Question

What is a mineral rock?

Ken

Ken,

A “mineral rock,” at least as I use the term, is a Trophy Rock.  Trophy Rock is simply a “rock” mined from a deposit of sea minerals in Utah.  There are only three such veins of salt sea minerals known in the world.  In other salt deposits, the minerals settled out and left just salt.  Each of the known salt sea mineral deposits have a slightly different composition.  I like the mineral composition in the vein that Trophy Rock mines in Utah.  It is 100% natural and a great blend of 60+ minerals that benefits deer.

Growing Deer together,

Grant

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Nasal Bots

Question

Dear Grant,

When I shot my first doe I noticed it had worms at the starting of the eating pipes.  Is this some type of disease?

Robert

Robert,

I suspect the worms you saw are nasal bots.  They are commonly found in deer.

Growing Deer together,

Grant

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Antlers as an Indicator of Age

Question

Dr. Woods,

What are the biological reasons that a mature buck with large, developed, symmetrical antlers and 22 inches of main beam length barely has one legal brow tine and nothing on the other side?  All other characteristics point to a mature deer (size, brisket, etc.).  It just makes judging a mature buck that much harder!

Buzz

Buzz,

The length of a buck’s brow tines seems to be more of an individual characteristic than an indicator of age.  Body configuration is usually a better indicator of a buck’s age than any characteristic of his antlers.  That’s why I use the shape of a buck’s body much more than the configuration of antlers to estimate age.

Growing Deer together,

Grant

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When Do Deer Stop Eating Acorns?

Question

Dr. Grant Woods,

When do deer stop eating acorns?  Do they rot or go bad?  Or do deer eat them until they are gone?  Also what is your opinion of milo for food plots?

Brian

Brian,

Deer will consume acorns as long as they are good.  White oak acorns tend to rot to germinate by mid winter.  Acorns from red oaks have a higher acid content which allows them to remain eatable longer.  Some red oaks may remain eatable until early spring.

Milo is a very drought resistant crop that deer like once it makes a seed head.  Deer don’t consume the vegetation produced by milo.  Hence, if food plot acreage is limited, I don’t recommend milo as it will take up valuable food plot real estate for months before producing anything deer wish to eat.  Once the seed heads are developed, they are favored by birds and are unprotected.  That’s a huge advantage of corn, the ear is protected by a sheath that keeps most birds from consuming the grain and most ears will point down after they ripen and the sheath protects the grain from moisture.

For most food plot situations, corn offers more advantages than milo.

Growing Deer together,

Grant

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What genetic factors contribute to bigger antlers on whitetail bucks?

Question

I’ve read that when it comes to producing “big” bucks, the mother (doe) is responsible for most of the good genetics.  Is there any truth to this?  If so, should we allow some does that we know may have produced a big buck to walk? Also, I find it hard to kill a doe that produced twins or triplets.  Do all does have the ability to birth twins and/or triplets or is that based on the animal’s environment and food?

Thank you,

Justin

Justin,

Researchers believe that does contribute more to the genetic potential of a buck’s antlers than the sire.  However, no matter how good the genetic potential is, the age structure and quality of the habitat determine how much of a buck’s antler potential can be expressed.  That’s why I never worry about a buck’s genetic potential unless the habitat is fabulous.  I don’t believe it’s practical to select which doe produces better bucks in a wild, free-ranging situation.  A buck’s potential is usually not known until he is 4.5 years old or older.  It’s very tough to know which doe produced a buck 4.5 years later.

It is very common for does in good habitat to have twins or triplets.  If the adult sex ratio is not managed to be balanced, then it is unlikely that a buck will express his full antler development potential.  Likewise, it is very important to ensure there is plenty of quality food for each deer in the population by harvesting enough does to balance the habitat’s capacity to produce quality food with the number of deer in the area.

Given the above, I suggest harvesting enough does to meet the management objectives for that property.  I harvest the first doe I can legally and don’t stop until the prescribed doe harvest quota is met – independent of the doe’s age, number of fawns, etc.

Growing Deer together,

Grant

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Can Injuries Influence Antler Development?

Question

I watched the video of the hunt in eastern Kansas and you talked about how injuries affect antler growth (GDTV 48).  I live where an 18 point buck was taken just a week or so ago.  Both brow tines are forked and at the base of the right antler he had a single horn growing along with the main beam.  Could you explain how the injuries affect the antlers?

David (Mississippi)

David,

Injuries that occur behind a deer’s shoulders commonly cause the opposite side of a deer’s antlers to develop in a non-typical configuration.  Injuries that occur from the front shoulders forward will often cause the antlers on the same side as the injury to develop in a non-typical configuration.  Not all injuries result in a buck producing a non-typical set of antlers.

Some non-typical antlers are simply a function of that buck’s genetic make-up.  Bucks tend to develop non-typical racks as they mature.  So there can be several reasons for a buck to have a non-typical antler configuration.

Growing Deer together,

Grant

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Does Corn Help Grow Antlers?

Question

During a show you mentioned that corn does not facilitate growth of large antlers in states like Iowa.  Rather, the other plants that those rich soils produce aid in that growth.  To what other plants were you referring?

Dennis

Dennis,

I think we miscommunicated.  Food high in protein like soybeans is critical for antler growth.  However, so is food that is high in energy.  Corn is a great source of energy for deer!!  The combination of corn and soybeans grown in the same area creates a much better diet than simply a diet of only corn or only soybeans.  Deer will consume primarily the soybean foliage during the growing season, and then consume the carbohydrate rich corn grain during the winter.  These carbohydrates help deer maintain body heat, weight, etc, through the winter stress period!  In fact, most of the record book bucks come from agricultural areas that produce both corn and soybeans annually.  I commonly prescribe corn and forage soybeans for food plots even in non-agricultural areas.

Growing Deer together,

Grant

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How to Score Antlers

Question

Hello Grant,

My 11 year old son and I really enjoy your website and videos.

How do I score a rack?  My son, on his first ever muzzleloader hunt, harvested an 8 point buck that was huge for this part of Maryland.  It weighed in at 255 lbs. field dressed.

Thanks for any help.

Guy

Guy,

Wow – congrats to your son and you!!!!  That’s a huge body weight for a deer harvested anywhere.  A guide to the most common scoring system can be found on The Boone and Crocket website.

Growing (and scoring) Deer together,

Grant

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Warts on Deer

Question

Dr. Woods,

I have noticed that several of the doe’s that we have seen on our farm have some type of large reddish looking warts on their bodies. Without seeing a picture is it possible for you to explain what this wart could be?  Is it safe to eat the meat if we harvest a deer that has one of these warts?

Thanks,

Brandon

Brandon,

I can’t positively identify what the lesions are without an image or personally examining the deer. However, I suspect they are fibromas. If so, they are not harmful to humans and only impact the quality of the meat if a secondary infection is present. Check out these images and description and see if you think they are fibromas.

Growing Deer together,

Grant

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Number of Points Related to a Buck’s Age?

Question

Grant,

I have heard that once a buck is 3.5 years old that how many points they have is usually the most they will ever have.  Is this true?  We have some video of a buck last year that had a bad front left leg and he was a 120” 8 point.  This year my cousin shot that deer and he was a 155” 10 point at 4.5 years old.  We know it is the same deer because his left front leg is bad.  We had a bad drought here as well, without any rain for 3 ½ months.

Jarvis

Jarvis,

Wow – that’s a neat observation.  Typically by the time a buck reaches 3.5 years old he is only expressing up to 75% of his growth antler potential.  Because bucks have the potential to add a substantial amount of antler growth between 3.5 and 4.5, I prefer to allow them the extra year to mature.  In many cases, as a buck matures he begins throwing more non-typical points.  So, the number of points can certainly change.  I wouldn’t put much stock in the statement “the number a buck will produce is maxed out by the time he is 3.5 years old.”

Given the drought conditions you mentioned, the buck you speak of is probably more of a unique scenario because he was potentially battling a wound last year and was able to put more resources toward growing bone this year.  Severe droughts can limit antler growth.  Finally, it’s important to remember that bucks are unique individuals and the best we can do is discuss averages as any individual can show a totally different antler growth pattern.  Thanks for sharing that unique observation!

Growing Deer together,

Grant

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Where Have the Mature Bucks Gone?

Question

Hi Grant,

I have taken several big bucks over the past ten years.  I have six stands on 2,000 acres.  I have hunted and scouted hard during bow and gun season.  I only saw one shooter buck and he was busted up so I let him walk.  I saw a bunch of spikes and forked bucks.  Any ideas what has happened?  I had several pictures of 135” to 160” deer last year on five cameras and now I don’t have any buck pictures this year.

Marlon

Marlon,

The presence and observability of bucks on any property is largely affected by variables such as the size and duration of the acorn crop, crop rotation by farmers, age structure of bucks, actions of neighbors, etc.  This year I had a bumper crop of red oak acorns and the deer herd responded to them in a big way.  My food plots look better than ever with the primary reason being the deer weren’t using them until last week.  I had to adjust by placing more stands in acorn areas and travel corridors between acorns and bedding areas.  Many hunters throughout the Midwest report the same observations.  However, now that the temperatures are dropping, many of the acorns have been consumed, and the food plots/crop fields are sure to be hot spots soon.

All across America more and more people are allowing young bucks to walk in the hope of seeing/harvesting mature bucks.  Older bucks by default are more wary and more difficult to see/hunt.  Everyone, including myself, has to think about our hunting strategies and develop new tactics to successfully pursue mature bucks year after year.

Growing Deer together,

Grant

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Old 6 Point

Question

Dr. Woods,

Every Monday morning when I get to my computer I check to see what new information you have on your website.  I learn a lot from you and your website.

I have emailed you before about managing my 800 acre farm.  Now my question is about trying to get rid of bad genetics.  We harvested a couple of 6 points this year during gun season that are for sure 3 year olds, if not older.  These deer both had lots of mass and had bigger bodies compared to other deer in the area.  We have also had a history of some huge 6 points on the farm.  In all the reading I’ve done harvesting and getting rid of these genetics is a good thing, but I would like to get your input on the topic.  How old should a person let a deer get when they have only 4 or 6 points?  When this is all the points they have, is this because of bad genetics or lack of food sources?  On The Proving Grounds would you harvest a 2 1/2 to 3 1/2 year old 4 or 6 point?

Thank you, I learn something new from you every week.

Brett

Brett,

The “old 6 point” is a deer that nearly every property has had sometime in the past or will in the future.  They are the deer that are always joked about sitting around the campfire during hunting season.  On my property I have set my harvest standards to focus on bucks that are 4.5 years old or older.  At 4.5 years old bucks are exhibiting at least 75% of their antler potential.  At that point, no matter their antler score, I consider them a trophy if I can get a harvest opportunity.  Mature bucks, regardless of antler score, are a tremendous challenge.

I do not try to remove genetic traits from a free ranging herd because study after study has proven its ineffectiveness.  Deer herds have such diverse genetics that removing a handful of deer from a herd does little to change their genetic makeup.

In some situations a buck (whether it was 1 or 7 points) is very important to the herd.  This is the case with herds that are heavily weighted toward does.  In this situation every buck is needed to breed does during their first or second estrus cycle and not unduly prolong the rut.  With every estrus cycle that a doe does not get breed, the later her potential buck fawn is birthed and behind the rest of his age class, resulting in delayed development and possibly death during his first winter.

With that said, my personal harvest goals are different than my young children’s and my 80 year old father’s.  They have the green light to harvest whatever they desire.

Growing Deer together,

Grant

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Processing Deer Meat

Question

When I started hunting 8 or 9 years ago I didn’t have a lot of guidance on field dressing or final processing of deer.  I began the search for videos and written materials to assist.  The best, in my opinion, is put out by our own KY Afield program.  I have such a great respect for your material, have you ever done anything like this or considered producing something?  I ask as I embark on the processing of this year’s first harvest.

Bruce

 

Bruce,

Congratulations on the harvest!  My family and I consume about 10 deer annually.  We process our own meat (on our kitchen table).  However, we’ve never recorded or described the process.  I debone the meat and then filet out any connective tissue, etc.  We use a vacuum sealer to wrap the meat as the final step in our process.  Tracy, my wife, just prepared a loin from at 4.5 year old buck I recently harvested and it was fabulous!

Unfortunately, I think creating a processing video would require more of a studio setup (lighting, etc.) than we normally use.

Growing Deer together,

Grant

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Deer Changing Patterns

Question

I’ve noticed strange changes in deer movement during the last couple of years which has me concerned.  I hunt a parcel of private land, 180 acres that runs along the Black River in central Wisconsin.  I’ve hunted this property since 1995 when I met my wife.  I have been very successful hunting the property and have had many mature buck sightings.  But it seems that in the last couple of years the deer have removed themselves from our property and crossed the river to move north.  This change is taking place about the same time every year, right around the last week in October and the first part of November.  I’m not sure what the cause of this is.  There is not a lot of hunting pressure on our property as I am the only one bowhunting the 180 acre parcel 99% of the time.  We have agricultural land that is planted with corn, oats, and clover on a yearly basis. The woods are a mix of hardwoods and other timber with many white and red oaks throughout the property along with wild plum and apple trees.  There is no food shortage on the property.

Other than the rut, what may cause the deer to leave the property during daylight hours and come back through only after dark?  I have not seen any sign or indication of bear or wolves on the property this year as I have in the past. Something has changed and I am looking for some suggestion on what direction I should take on hunting the property now.  Thanks for your time. Great show, I love all the information you provide!!

Tony

Tony,

Your hunting property sounds wonderful!  Deer typically only change movement patterns due to a changed location of a food source or fear of predation.  If the location of preferred food sources on your property and the neighbors’ hasn’t changed, then fear of predation is most likely causing the deer to change their travel pattern.

The source of fear could be from either two or four-legged predators.  However, it sounds more like avoidance of two-legged predators.  If you using the same techniques and spending the same amount of time hunting, I’d make sure trespassing is not an issue.  It sounds as if someone else is most likely alerting the deer and causing them to avoid your property during daylight hours.

Growing Deer together,

Grant

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Doe Tarsal Glands

Question

Is the degree of tarsal staining in does related to the onset of estrus?  Do does lick tarsals clean after ovulation or breeding?

Doug

Doug,

That’s a great question!  I am not aware of any research related to tarsal glands on does.  That would be a great research project!

Growing Deer together,

Grant

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Which Crops Do Deer Prefer More Than Acorns?

Question

I have a friend here in Missouri that is a conservation agent.  He is also in charge of Peck Ranch Wildlife Refuge.  He had the opportunity to visit one of your farms and took notes on how to get the most out of food plots.  I posed this question to him and he said that I needed to ask a real professional, you.

I have always been told that the outcome of your acorn production depends on the weather and rain from the previous year.  Is there any truth to that?  I know that deer prefer acorns over any other food source here in southeast Missouri.  Is there another food source that deer will frequent even if you have a bumper crop of acorns?

I have about 300 acres that I manage very strictly with 105 in pasture and the rest in thick cover, but I don’t have an abundance of mature oak trees.  I have very little pressure during the hunting seasons and I would love to utilize my farm to its fullest extent.  Any help would be greatly appreciated.

Thanks,

Brian

Brian,

There is some truth to the statement that acorn production depends on the weather during the previous year.   Acorns on red oaks develop from flowers from the previous year.  A late frost can damage or kill those flowers and when that occurs there won’t be many acorns the following year.  The flowers on a white oak tree develop into acorns the same year.  Therefore a late frost, drought, etc., can reduce white oak acorn production the same year it occurs.

There are gads of factors that influence acorn production such as insects.  This year Jumping Oak Gall caused most of the white oaks on my property to lose 90% of their leaves during the summer and all emerging acorns.  Given all the uncontrollable factors that can impact acorn production, I never count on them as a food source or hunting location.  I view them as strictly opportunistic – that is I select stand sites near acorns when deer are feeding on them.

When acorns are available, deer do prefer them over most food sources.  Even in ag production areas, deer will leave corn and beans to feed on acorns.  They do the same thing at The Proving Grounds.  However, as soon as the acorn crop is gone, deer will readily use the corn and forage soybeans grown here.  Therefore, I always want great crops.  I’ve seen significant increases in antler development, deer herd density, and body weights at The Proving Grounds as a result of our habitat management program which includes growing an Eagle Seed forage soybean and corn rotation.  If practical, I encourage you to consider converting all or a portion of the pasture area at your farm to crop production.  Such a program could have a huge impact on the quality of the deer at your farm!  We’ll be hosting two field days during 2011.  I hope you will consider joining us and seeing the habitat management techniques we use to improve our herd quality and hunting opportunities!

Growing Deer together,

Grant

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Can Deer Scent Spook Whitetails?

Question

When using deer scent, can you use the wrong scent at the wrong time and spook whitetails?

Ryan

Ryan,

Like humans, deer are individuals.  Some deer may react positively to a specific scent, while others ignore or avoid the scent.  Another factor is the amount of hunting pressure the local herd receives.  If they’ve had a negative experience with a specific scent and encounter it again, they will most likely avoid the scent.  Young deer often are very curious and will check out scents that are new to them.  They simply haven’t had as much time to have a negative association with a scent.  However, mature deer are often more cautious.

It’s fun to try new scents and watch how deer respond to them.  However, there’s always a chance mature deer will respond negatively and avoid the area that day.  This is true with any technique such as calls, decoys, etc.  When deer avoid an attractant, it usually occurs without the hunter ever knowing the deer was in the area.  Using scents to attract deer is certainly not a one size fits all approach!

Growing Deer together,

Grant

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How Deer Use the Wind

Question

Dr. Woods,

I’m curious about wind direction and how deer use it.  Bucks prefer to quarter the wind, right?  Do does prefer the same setup?  Do deer deviate much from this (walking into or quartering the primary wind direction)?

If you were hunting a transitional zone between a feeding area and bedding area with a primary wind direction coming out of the north (blowing south), with the feeding area north of the transition area and the bedding area south of it, deer would probably be likely to move from the bedding area through the transition area (and hopefully present a shot) to the feeding area in the afternoon.

What about in the morning?  I know deer move back to bedding areas in the morning.  If the wind is still coming from the north and blowing south, the wind won’t alert deer since you’d be downwind of them.  However, the deer won’t have the wind in their nose or quartering to them (unless they were moving backwards).  So, would this transitional area still be a good place to see a deer, or would the deer simply move to a bedding area that is further north of the feeding area so that they can utilize the wind to their advantage?

I’m sure I’m over complicating this, but I’m just trying to learn how deer really use the wind.  Even in my area the wind changes daily, but sometimes I notice the same deer move from the same bedding area to the same feeding area so I know they are not always using the wind to their advantage.  However, this is mostly does and not bucks.

Thanks!

Eric

Eric,

I have and still do spend hours pondering how deer use the wind!  I make no claims that I’ve figured that out yet.  In general, deer like to move with the wind in their advantage.  However, what is “in their advantage?”  Is it in front of them so they can detect threats before they approach an area or is it when the wind is behind them and they can detect threats that might approach from the rear?

Deer obviously move in all directions in relation to the wind.  If the wind remains out of the north for a week, they don’t end up traveling miles and miles north simply because they wanted to keep the wind in their face.  I think deer are much more sensitive to thermals and minor wind currents than most hunters realize.  Hunters, me included, seem to get hung up on the general wind direction.  I believe deer avoid two and four legged predators by paying attention to thermals (air moving up or down in elevation because of temperature gradients).  These thermals can occur due to slope, shade/sunlight patterns, etc.

I use several tools including unscented talcum powder, bubbles, etc., to detect thermal patterns when selecting stand sites.  To complicate this process more, thermal patterns often change throughout the day as the temperature changes.

Working to reduce your scent by clothing, equipment, good hygiene and understanding localized thermals are key factors in observing and harvesting mature bucks.

Growing Deer together,

Grant

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Piebald Deer

Question

I have a couple questions that I want to ask.

I have a Pinto/Piebald buck on our farm.  He’s a 7 point and looks to be 2 1/2 or maybe just 1 1/2.  Do they have bad genetics and need to be taken out of the herd?

Is it possible that mature does seek out the dominant bucks instead of the bucks seeking them out?  I had a hunt and saw this type of behavior.  Does were going to where he was.  Also, it seemed like they were trying to protect him.  I have also shot big bucks and had does standing around where a buck fell, even after running them off they would come back later.

Thanks,

Chad

Chad,

Piebald deer are not usually as fit as other deer, genetically speaking.  However, because it is a recessive trait it will not dominate a herd.  I think they are fun to observe and opt not to harvest them unless they are mature.  That’s just a personal choice.

A research project with a very large sample size conducted on a herd with plenty of mature bucks clearly showed that no buck bred significantly more does that any other buck of breeding age.  This research is supported by the knowledge that in herds with fairly balanced adult sex ratios, most does become receptive to breeding about the same time and only remain receptive for 1-2 days.  Therefore, it would be very unlikely for one buck to do most of the breeding.  Wild, free-ranging populations of whitetails have an extremely diverse genetic make-up.  This is because most adults, both male and female, participate in the breeding.  The fact that most deer participate in the reproductive cycle of a deer herd ensures the genetic makeup is extremely diverse and healthy!

Growing Deer together,

Grant

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Developing Mineral Stations

Question

Grant,

I’m interested in starting a “mineral station.”  How, when, where, and with what do you recommend going about this?

Thank you,

Kasey

Kasey,

Providing mineral is a great way of ensuring the deer herd is acquiring all of the trace minerals required in body growth and antler development.  Mineral stations are also good for attracting deer.  Whenever possible I try to place them near another attraction such as a pond, food plot, etc.  This way I can maximize the number of deer utilizing them and capture some great images of each deer on my trail cameras.  Just remember that if you are placing them by a pond to place them below the pond so the high salt content doesn’t pollute the water.

Create the mineral stations as soon as possible so that deer can begin utilizing them.  Although they use them most during high moisture times of the year like spring, our trail camera images indicate deer are physically licking mineral throughout the year, even in the snow.

The mineral I use is Trophy Rock.  Trophy Rock is different from the average trace mineral block because it is a true rock mined from the earth out west.  With over 60 minerals present in each rock I am providing many of the minerals required in the herd’s daily growth.  I like to have at least one Trophy Rock per 160 acres.

Growing Deer together,

Grant

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Are Spikes a Good Thing?

Question

Grant,

I thoroughly enjoy your website.  The information that you provide has been very useful for our property.

I was bowhunting with my son (11) and daughter (17) in a ground blind overlooking a 40 acre food plot.  While we were hunting we had 15 young spikes come out on the food plot and feed close by us.  Is this a good thing?  I kept telling my son that in 3-4 years that we would have a lot of shooter bucks and that we need to be patient and enjoy watching the deer.

Thanks for all of your help.

Lawrence

Lawrence,

Thanks for the kind words!  You are correct!  Young bucks, if allowed to mature, turn into big bucks!  The old adage “once a spike, always a spike” is absolutely not true.  If those yearling bucks are allowed to mature and have access to good quality forage, they will produce much larger antlers as they mature.  Some of them will have larger antlers than others, just like some humans are taller than others.  All critters have slightly different genetic potential.  However, environmental factors impact how much of that potential can be expressed.  If a buck is harvested as a yearling, it certainly will not express much of its antler growth potential.

Growing (and passing) Deer together,

Grant

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Viral Wart?

Question

I just took a 4 point by bow that had a growth hanging under his chin.  I could see the growth swinging under his chin like a ball on a string as he made his way to my stand.  The growth is about twice the size of a golf ball and hard.  It is hanging from a small section of stretched skin.  He was definitely too young to be taken, but due to the deformity I took the shot.  I was concerned with it being infectious to our other deer.  After researching this I believe it is a viral wart and is infectious to other deer but not humans.  The meat is reportedly still okay unless infection has set in.  Should these deer be harvested to protect the herd, is the meat safe and is there any worry of human infection?

Bill

 

Bill,

That is an odd growth shown in the picture!  I can’t positively determine what the cause of the growth was.  However, such oddities do occur in deer (and other species of wildlife).  Usually, unless there is a secondary infection such growths do not contaminant the meat that would normally be consumed by humans.  If you have any doubts, most states allow their game wardens to issue a replacement tag if requested by the hunter.  I wouldn’t worry about the growth causing damage to other deer, unless the deer was in captivity and in constant contact with other deer.

Growing Deer together,

Grant

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How big is a buck’s home range?

Question

Dr. Woods,

Recently I saw your interview with Midwest Whitetail about a buck’s home range.  You commented that deer are just like people and have different personalities and some will move farther than others.  I’m curious about the studies that back this up, did they take place on locations where food plots, feeders and manmade water sources were present?  Were any of these studies done on areas such as Mark Twain National Forest or were they on private land without land assistance?

I hunt on 340 acres in the southern portion of Christian County, Missouri on land that is 80% timber.  The other 20% of the land is used for cattle and horses so food plots are not an option at this time.  The neighbors do not have food plots either.  We do have several White Oaks, Red Oaks, Black Oaks and other acorn producing trees that typically yield a good crop (however, the White Oaks did not produce a crop this year).  Our water sources are good as well, even in the driest times some sort of water supply is available (ponds and small creeks).

How do you think this situation affects a buck’s home range?

I really do enjoy your personality and realism.  I enjoy the information you share in your web tv shows, podcasts, interviews in Wild Idea Archery, and seminars.  I wish I knew 1% of what you know about whitetails, predators and deer management.  I think The Proving Grounds is an absolute dream.  Is that really obtainable for the average Joe like myself?  There is no way I could ever replicate what you have been able to accomplish.  There is a heavy need out there to have a show that represents the majority of hunters and the situations they face.  So many of us get a few weekends off a year and hunt non-managed private land or heavily timbered public land.  Yet the only shows out there show well managed properties with $15k Bad Boy Buggies, multiple treestands to choose from and big buck after big buck.

Dr. Woods, I appreciate your time and any advice you can give.

Chris

Chris,

Thanks for the kind words!

Studies I quote are from many, many locations.  Predation and behavior studies will apply to a much broader portion of the whitetail’s range.  Even in Christian County, the habitat changes from typical Ozark forest to areas with some ag or lush landscape plants (urban areas).  However, deer tend to behave the same throughout the county.  Average antler size, body weight, or fawn production for each age class can vary significantly by habitat type.

I grew up hunting Mark Twain National Forest in Barry and Taney County, Missouri (we may have hunted some of the same areas).  Studies throughout the whitetails’ range consistently show that the closer quality food, cover, and shelter are located, the smaller the average size of a deer’s home range will be.  So, even if there’s plenty of water, if quality food and/or cover are limited the average home range size of deer in that area will be larger compared to areas where these necessary habitat components are plentiful in close proximity.  Remember that the average deer range may not apply to any individual deer, just like the average height of a human may not apply to many actual humans.

Deer herds that live in areas where acorns are the primary food source during the winter often present tough hunting challenges.  When there are lots of acorns, deer don’t need to move far so it’s tough for hunters to approach the feeding/bedding area without alerting deer.  When the acorns are scarce, it’s tough to pattern deer as they cover large areas searching for food.

Hunters that harvest mature bucks consistently from acorn driven herds are some of the best hunters I know.  They absolutely shine when they hunt in areas with fragmented habitat and easily identifiable feeding and bedding areas.

One last thought…  It’s relatively easy to use a fence to exclude livestock but allow deer to forage.  This is a great tool for establishing food plots in areas where livestock are grazing.  If there is limited quality food in an area, it’s very easy to pattern deer unless they are alerted to the presence of hunters.

Growing Deer together,

Grant

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What Triggers the Rut?

Question

Grant,

During the 80s and 90s, the accepted fact was that the “hunter’s moon” (perhaps 7 days after the 2nd full moon after the autumnal equinox) triggered the rut.  Most studies in the past decade, based on radio-collared deer, have stated that this is just myth and is absolutely not supported by true science-based studies.

That said, some renowned deer experts — Charles Alsheimer in particular — (see the last edition of Deer & Deer Hunting) are adamant that moon phase has a significant impact on the timing of the rut.  Are you willing to weigh in on this with a strong opinion?

Barry

Barry,

My data (gads and gads of deer fetuses backdated to the date of conception during the past 20 years) match the observations of many other scientists.  The timing of deer conception dates are not triggered by any phase of the moon.

Growing Deer together,

Grant

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What Can Deer See?

Question

Hi Grant,

I recently found your site and I’m really enjoying it.

Is there any way to know what a deer sees?  I hear a lot of opinions, but who’s right?  Is it true that they see the same thing a trail camera with an IR flash does?  I caught a shot of myself walking by one at night and my camo lights up like a big white snowman.  If that’s what they see, I wasted my money.

Thanks,

Mike

 

 

Mike,

Rather than risk losing something in translations, I’ll direct you to a post on the QDMA website “Can Deer See Blaze Orange?which summarizes the most up to date research.

Deer do see differently than the lens of an infra-red camera.  A camera could be programmed to see the same color spectrum as my fellow researchers believe a deer sees, but that’s not the case with the normal trail camera.  I’ve noticed the same “big white snowman” images before.  They are caused by some of the new camouflage being printed on material that is very reflective under those light conditions.

Growing Deer together,

Grant

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Tanning Deer Hides

Question

I just managed to harvest my first deer with a bow and as a momento I am going to try and tan the hide myself.  Do you have any tips or advice?

Thank you,

Peter

Peter,

Congratulations!  I love tanned deer hides.  In fact, I have every hide from deer my children kill tanned for them.  They use them as extra blankets, take them to school, etc.  However, I send mine to Moyle Mink & Tannery in Idaho.  I’ve never tanned a hide.  Sorry I can’t provide more information on this subject.

Growing (and enjoying) Deer together,

Grant

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Mineral Sources

Question

I would like to know a mineral block or mineral that I could use year after year. I have bought several different ones and some the deer won’t even touch.

Keith

Keith,

I use Trophy Rock and am very pleased with the amount of use it receives year round.  It has 60+ trace minerals!  In fact, it’s the first source of mineral I’ve tried that deer used constantly throughout the winter.  I have a Trophy Rock out about every 100 acres at The Proving Grounds and last winter it was easy to monitor the use as deer keep the snow tramped near around them.

Growing Deer together,

Grant

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Fawn with visible antlers??

Question

Have you ever seen a spotted fawn with visible horns broken through the hairline before?  Do you see this often?  I have two pictures of a fawn that is a triplet the mother had.  I have never seen one this young with the horns broken through the hairline already.

Jay

Jay,

I’ve never seen a fawn that young with visible antlers in captivity or in the wild.  That’s certainly an oddity.  I’d be interested if you get images of that fawn as he matures this fall.

Growing Deer together,

Grant

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Deer Digesting Corn

Question

Grant,

Last year we killed two deer that had corn in their stomachs.  They were shot over a mile from the closest corn field.  How long does it take for a deer to digest corn?

Adam

Adam,

There are several factors that impact how fast food passes through the digestive system of deer.  Other food items will determine the acidity, etc, in the rumen.  A better indicator may be checking up the esophagus as food items move down the esophagus rapidly.  If there is whole corn that doesn’t appear partially digested (regurgitated) in the esophagus, I might suspect a bait pile somewhere closer than the corn field a mile away.

Growing Deer together,

Grant

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Velvet on Late in Florida

Question

I live in north Florida and just got a picture of one of the largest rack bucks on our property ever.  Why would he still be in velvet?  I have never seen a buck still in velvet this time of the year.  I have heard that he may have injured his testes and if so would he still rut?  The picture we got of him was at an active scrape.  Thanks for any info you might have on this!

James

James,

There are multiple reasons why bucks hold their velvet late.  Having an image of the buck in a scrape is encouraging!  However, I doubt an accurate diagnosis can be made without handling the buck.

Let me know if you harvest this buck or get any more clues!

Grant

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Feeding Cycle

Question

Thanks so much for the great information that you provide.  It may not be said often enough, but it is greatly appreciated and thanks to both you and Brad.

The past week we have had a bright full moon and the past thoughts have been that with a full moon deer bed up during the day and move mostly at night.  I was wondering that with deer being a ruminant and having to chew its cud for digestion, is it possible for a deer to graze/forage all night?  Can the rumen of a whitetail hold that much food to allow them to feed all night, assuming adequate amounts of forage?  Also, would this make the deer more likely to bed up a little earlier in the morning then normal and then move again late morning/early afternoon?

Jim

Jim,

There’s been an ongoing debate for years about deer movement related to the phase of the moon.  However, fairly extensive research by multiple scientists hasn’t found any correlation to daytime activity of deer and any moon phase.

The number of feeding bouts per day depends more on the quality of forage than the size of the rumen.  For example, deer can digest soybean forage much more rapidly than acorns.  Hence deer consuming soybean forage will likely have more feeding bouts per day than deer consuming acorns.  Because the deer consume more pounds of quality forage when eating soybeans versus acorns, they will usually have larger antlers, bodies, and more fawns per doe.  They are also easier to hunt because they have more feeding bouts per day and move to a specific location versus rambling through the woods searching for acorns.  Soybeans are literally the cause of making the Midwest deer herd so desirable to hunt for many hunters!

Growing Deer together,

Grant

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Scrapes

Question

I’ve heard a lot of stuff about scrapes but I would like to know the truth from a real biologist. How do you classify scrapes?  Are there such things as primary and secondary scrapes, community scrapes, and territorial scrapes?  Or are scrapes just to see if the doe is hot and ready to breed?  What are the different types of scrapes and when do they happen?

Tom

Tom,

Scrape behavior was the subject of the research project for my Master’s thesis.  I’ve always been fascinated by deer use of scrapes.  I filmed a mature buck marking an existing scrape while hunting in Kansas recently.  I share this to let you know I have studied and hunted near scrapes for decades.  With that said, I and other scientists still have many unanswered questions about scrapes.  I will summarize my research on scrapes by saying…

  1. Each scrape is a unique signpost.
    1. I’m not aware of any location (field edge, etc.) that predicts the demographics or frequency of deer visits to that scrape.
  2. Does and fawns frequently visit scrapes.
  3. Some scrapes, especially the licking branch portion of the scrape, are used year round.
    1. These are typically located in areas that deer travel frequently.
  4. Peak use of scrapes occurs about two weeks before peak conception in that location.
    1. Selecting a stand simply because it overlooks a scrape during the rut is probably not the best tactic.
  5. I do not believe in primary, secondary, or territorial scrapes.
    1. Deer don’t defend their home range by scent marking like many predators do.  Deer probably use scent marking to communicate specific messages, such as breeding status, etc.  However, even that is a theory.
      1. Certainly some scrapes are used by deer more frequently than others. This is especially true in areas with an adult sex ratio that is balanced or favors bucks.
  6. At minimum, scrapes mark areas that deer have traveled.  Fresh scrapes indicate deer are currently using that area.  I use scrapes more to learn about deer travel routes than I do exact stand locations.

I hope my observations provide you a foundation to form your opinions.

Growing Deer together,

Grant

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Deer Seasonal Home Range Selection

Question

Hello Grant,

My question is concerning how some bucks move their home ranges based on the season.  I have always wondered, do they have a set “migration route” every year, like caribou, or do they just kind of wander around until they get to someplace that’s familiar?

Tracy

Tracy,

In most areas, white-tailed deer don’t migrate.  They spend all year in the same general area.  The size of their home range decreases as the quality of the habitat increases.  Hence, the closer good sources of food, cover, and water occur, the smaller the home range of deer in that area.  I do work in areas where the accumulated snow levels exceed a deer’s ability to move and forage every year.  One example is in northern New York where deer have distinct summer and winter ranges.  These ranges can be 10+ miles apart!  Based on research using radio telemetry and other tools, it seems the same deer return to the same summer and winter ranges year after year.  The does apparently teach their fawns these migration patterns so it is a learned behavior.  This same behavior occurs across the northern portion of the whitetails’ range.  However, it is very rare to find deer that truly migrate south of the Snow Belt area.

Deer in the agricultural belt often have large annual home ranges and in some cases even shift their home ranges similar to deer in the Snow Belt.  This is caused by the shift in availability of food and cover related to the harvest of corn and soybean crops.  These areas are usually farmed year after year and once the crops are harvested, the deer move to areas of cover.  Like deer in the Snow Belt, the mini migrations in the agricultural areas tend to be passed on from mothers to their offspring.

Deer rarely “wander around” as they are very uncomfortable in areas where they don’t know the normal wind currents, and other factors that make them vulnerable to predation.  There are always a few exceptions, but in general mature deer are homebodies!  That’s one reason it’s tough to harvest mature deer as they know every object and scent within their home range.

Growing Deer together,

Grant

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Deer Population Estimates from Camera Survey

Question

I have done a deer survey with 3 cameras on my 320 acre farm.  I have 570 pictures of does, 43 fawns, and 102 bucks.  This was over the first 3 weeks of August.  How do I go about projecting the actual number of deer based on my camera survey?

Thanks,

Mike

Mike,

I have posted step-by-step instructions for conducting a herd survey.

The steps K through M provide detailed instructions of how to estimate the number of deer, the adult sex ratio, etc., based on the data you’ve collected.

Camera surveys are great tools!

Growing Deer together,

Grant

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Timing of Scrape Behavior

Question

Grant,

For the first time since I have been in management of land and hunting I had two scrapes appear from September 1st  to September 4th.  Then a third scrape appeared on September 5th.  They are all in the same general area of my land.  Do you have any thoughts on scrapes appearing this early in the season?

Allen

Allen,

Most bucks shed their velvet during early September.  An increase in testosterone hormone is related to the velvet shedding process.  The making and revisiting of scrapes also increases with the increase in testosterone.  So, bucks making scrapes during early September is probably a great reflection of an increasing buck population due to your management activities!

Growing Deer together,

Grant

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Stained Tarsal Glands

Question

This year while spring gobbler hunting (late April) in Ohio I noticed a few large deer together and I was able to see the start of antler growth.  I noticed that they all still had dark large tarsal staining.  I also saw some other large deer with no antler growth started but by their size they appeared to be bucks and they also exhibited large tarsal staining.  I also saw some does with last year’s young that had no tarsal staining.  Can you tell if a deer is a buck or a doe prior to antler growth by looking at last year’s tarsal staining?  Thank you in advance…

Richard

Richard,

Both bucks and does urinate on their tarsal glands (a behavior called rub urination).  Does and subordinate bucks tend to lick the urine from the tarsal glands and thus their tarsal glands don’t remain stained as long compared to a mature buck.  However, the presence of stained tarsal glands shouldn’t be used to determine gender.

Because does and subordinate bucks usually remove the stain from their tarsal glands, I usually associate deer with tarsal stains that continue all the way down to their toes to be mature bucks.

Growing Deer together,

Grant

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Same Buck Year to Year?

Question
Dear Dr. Grant,

As always, I appreciate your advice and help on questions. How old do you think this deer is? To me some parts of him say one thing and other parts another. Both pictures are the same deer with different views. This deer has been on our property for 3 years now and each year he has been the same size at 7 points. This year’s rack is still the same size but a touch different (still 7 points). He does look close enough that it has me wondering if it’s him or another deer younger.

Thanks,

Kevin

P.S. – This is an example on how good the camera is, thanks for the camera advice.


Kevin,

I zoomed in on both images and believe both pictures are of the same deer.  It is interesting how the early morning image makes the buck look older.  This is just one of those examples where factors such as day vs. night, buck’s orientation, etc., can make two images of the same buck look slightly different.  I always try to have at least two high quality images of a buck to identify it as a unique individual, especially during my annual camera surveys.

A great feature of the Reconyx units is that the image quality holds up very well even when the image is expanded several times.

Growing Deer together,

Grant

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What Scarred this Fawn?

Question

Hey Grant,

I love the site and all you do to pass valuable information to us.


I have three pictures of a fawn that has some skin removed.  My buddy said the fawn got hit by a car.  I think it is some kind of disorder or maybe a predator got after it.  Can you look at the pictures and give us your opinion?  From the photos, the fawn looks like he/she is getting around with little problem.

Thanks for your help,

Toxie

Toxie,

I agree with your buddy, the hair loss pattern appears to be caused by the deer sliding on an abrasive surface, etc.  There are several possibilities that could have caused this including, but not limited to glancing a tree while moving fast or sliding on pavement while dodging a car.  No one will probably ever know what caused those scars.  The fawn appears healthy in the images and I suspect will regrow hair in those areas.  The hair may be a slightly different color and provide you with a way to identify that deer as it ages.

Growing Deer together,

Grant

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Cyst or Something Else?

Question

I live within smelling distance of Lamberts on 65 and J/CC in Ozark, Missouri.  I have two big bucks using my woodlot behind my house and have had a tube feeder and a camera out for about two months.  I have also had a doe with two fawns and a forked horn.  The forked horn has a very distinctive growth on his back.  It looks like someone put a big bottle cap on him because it is perfectly round and raised.  It is reddish in color.  Is this a cyst of some sort?

Tom

Tom,

Deer are usually extremely healthy.  However a small percentage of them do have illness or injuries.  The growth you described could be the result of an illness or an injury.  It’s tough to say without close inspection.  If you are blessed enough to continue watching that deer, it will be interesting to see if the growth goes away, enlarges, or remains the same size.

Growing Deer together,

Grant

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Early Season Scrapes

Question

Grant,

Yesterday I was working on my property and came across six fresh scrapes.  The moon phase is just leaving full and I know the hormones of the deer are beginning to change.  Is this the reason for the increased August scraping activity?

Also, are there are tricks to have a deer show their face during light other than the smell of estrus?  I have pictures of many shooter bucks coming past a stand.  However many of them are either right after shooting light or right before.

Thanks for your thoughts, and good hunting!

Ryan

Ryan,

Deer exhibit scrape behavior, especially marking the overhanging branch, throughout the year.  I suspect you were blessed enough to happen on scrapes that were more active than most this time of year.

I’m not aware of any “tricks” to encourage deer to be more active during the day.  I don’t think anyone fully understands why deer select when to be active.  There are gads of theories.  However, when these theories are tested by rigorous scientific study, all of them that I’m aware of, they are disproved.  I guess that’s what keeps the fun in hunting!

One thought to consider is that I rarely place trail cameras near my stand locations.  The process of checking the cameras seems to condition mature deer to avoid that area during daylight hours.  I tend to place my cameras in open areas where I expect mature deer to be at night.  I then learn when and where they are entering the field and attempt to think through where I should place my stand.  I wish to limit the disturbance in areas where I plan to hunt mature bucks.

Growing Deer together,

Grant

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Wildlife Degree at the University of Georgia

Question

Hey Dr. Grant,

I am attending school at Troy University in Troy, Alabama.  I am a freshman majoring in biology.  I am interested in the Wildlife Biology program at UGA.  Are you still involved in that program and if so are you teaching undergrads or only the masters program?

Thank You!

Dustin

Dustin,

If you plan to work as a wildlife biologist, especially if you wish to work with game species, then you would benefit from switching to a school that has a wildlife biology or wildlife management program.  The program at the University of Georgia has a great track record of their grads getting a job as a wildlife biologist.

I don’t teach any classes at the University of Georgia.  I have been blessed to work with some undergrad and graduate students there as an advisor.  At this point in my career, I strongly prefer field work to the classroom.  I enjoy leading field trips for wildlife classes where the students can actually see, touch, and smell the habitat and critters they’ve been studying in the classroom.

No matter where you attend school, remember that communication skills are critical to being a good wildlife biologist.  Your entire career will succeed or fail on how well you communicate your knowledge with your fellow wildlife biologists and resource users.  Make sure your oral and written communication skills are fine tuned!

Keep focused and seek chances to get experience.  Ask practicing wildlife biologists if you can assist with their field work.  Do an internship every summer if you can.  Attempt to work in different geographic areas so you can see different habitats and techniques.  Some internships don’t pay much now, but if you work hard they can pay great dividends throughout the remainder of your career.

Growing Deer together,

Grant

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When do Does Begin Breeding?

Question

I heard that a young doe can’t breed for a couples years.  At what age can a doe first breed?

David

David,

Does generally reach puberty when they weigh about 70 pounds (more or less depending on the area).  In areas with commercial soybean and corn production, it’s common for 30% or more of the fawns (does born early that year) to breed during the late fall.  It is possible that a doe might not breed until she is two years old, but only if the habitat quality is very poor and her development is limited due to poor nutrition.

Growing Deer together,

Grant

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Monitoring the Food/Deer Ratio

Question

Do I have enough food for my deer?  I own 276 acres in east Texas.  We are bordered on one side by a 3200 acre timber company lease with about 20 hunters.  The other 3 sides receive very little pressure.  I have 134 acres in woods consisting mainly of Oak trees and Yaupon.  The other 140 acres is in pasture land.  I have 32 acres in Ball Clover and Ryegrass and plant another 10 acres in Forage Oats and Chicory.  I also have 4 protein stations on the ranch.  I have 4 ponds ranging from 1/4 to 3 acres in size.  There are thick areas that we do not hunt or even venture into near drainages to provide sanctuary areas.  What else can I do to improve the land for deer?

Steed

Steed,

Sounds like you have a great property and solid deer management program in place.  The most practical method (and one of the least expensive) is to monitor the forage quantity/deer herd density ratios by using utilization cages.  I construct utilization cages by simply using a 10’ long piece of 4’ tall web wire (often called hog wire) and attaching both ends.  This creates approximately a 3’ cylinder of web wire.  Stake the utilization cage solidly to the ground.  It’s best to place the cage in the plot just after a crop is planted so the placement isn’t biased by forage height, color, etc.

As the forage grows, simply monitor the height of the forage inside the cage compared to outside the cage where the deer can forage.  Depending on the crop, the forage shouldn’t get more than twice as tall inside compared to outside the cage.  If the forage is the same height inside and out of the cage, then deer are not consuming much of the forage.  If the forage is much less tall outside than inside, there are more deer than quality forage in the area.

It seems as if you are providing quality food, cover, and water.  This is the foundation of a good habitat management plan.  Use utilization cages and other techniques to make sure you are providing enough of each of the critical habitat elements.

Growing Deer together,

Grant

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Stage of Antler Growth

Question

It is August 8th, how much more antler growth should I expect before they shed their velvet here in southern Missouri?

Anthony

Anthony,

Antlers should continue growing after August 8th in southern Missouri.  How long they grow depends on each individual buck, but probably an average of a week or two.  However, the current severe drought conditions in southern Missouri have limited the antler growth potential this year.  The growing conditions are so poor that plants are not nearly as productive or nutritious as usual.  Therefore the local deer herd isn’t receiving quality nutrition from native or cultivated forage.  I expect this year the average antler size will be smaller than average in the neighborhood because the antlers stopped growing earlier than normal.

Growing Deer together,

Grant

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Do Deer Prefer NWSG or Woody Cover?

Question

Dr. Woods,

Is there any research to show any difference in which might be better at holding mature bucks: NWSG such as switchgrass versus early successional habitat?

Eric

Eric,

I’m not aware of any research that examined if deer prefer using NWSG’s or early successional habitat (I assume you are talking about woody species).  However, the two are rarely grown in the same area as most woody early successional habitat is in the forestry belt and NWSG’s are in the Ag belt.  With that said, I know deer readily use NWSG’s habitat.  I prefer NWSG’s habitat as it is easier to manage and maintain as productive cover than woody regeneration.  NWSG habitat is always easier to hunt.  Where practical, I’d strongly prefer to establish, hunt, and maintain the NWSG over woody early succession habitat.

Growing Deer together,

Grant

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Buck Activity When it’s Hot

Question

I was seeing 6-8 different 8 point or better bucks a month ago and all of a sudden I hardly see one every other day or two.  Could it be the 95-100 degree heat is keeping the bucks close to a water source, which is about 500yds away? It’s getting close to bow season and I am worried. Any ideas??

Marc

Marc,

The temperatures at The Proving Grounds have been equally high.  I’m getting gads of images of mature bucks eating soybeans, but all at night – late night.  If season was open now, I wouldn’t be hunting the plots at my place due to the lack of mature bucks using them during daytime.  If it’s as dry at your place as it is at mine, you should consider scouting the water source.  If it doesn’t rain soon at my place, I’ll be hanging some stands and moving blinds to capitalize on that limited resource.  I always want to be hunting a limited resource.  Currently, water is the limiting resource at my place.

Even with that much of the puzzle figured out, many bucks tend to change their patterns drastically once velvet shedding begins.  The whitetail puzzle is never solved – thank goodness!  That’s what makes it fun!!

If you have permission to hunt near the water source mentioned, I’d place a trail camera there and see if mature bucks are using that area.

Growing Deer together,

Grant

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Creating a Water Source

Question

Grant,

During your seminar last week at Bass Pro you gave me the idea of putting a water tank at my food plot to keep the deer down in that location in the summertime.  Currently they have to travel 3/4 of a mile to our pond.  Long term I would like to build a pond there but a water tank is a good short term option. Is there any additional risk for transferring disease by using a water tank? I will be hauling this water in from a rural water system.  Are there any risks with using treated water? Just want to be sure I’m attacking the problem correctly without creating additional ones.

Thanks!

Alan

Alan,

Thanks for attending the seminar at Bass Pro!  I’m not aware of any problems with deer consuming water treated for human consumption.  Although I have never researched this, I am aware that deer at several research facilities and universities consume treated water.

Anything that concentrates deer in close proximity increases their chances of contacting a disease from an infected deer.  However, deer congregate at sources of water, food, etc., in the wild with very few problems.  I doubt the deer at your water source will be exposed to anything that they are not exposed to at the existing pond.

It sounds to me that you are working to improve the local habitat and reduce the stress of the local deer and other wildlife populations.  Keep up the good work!

Growing Deer together,

Grant

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Are Antlers Finished Growing?

Question

Will bucks add any more points or mass to their antlers in the coming weeks, or is what I see now what I’m going to get this winter?

William

William,

Most bucks are about finished growing their antlers by mid August.  However, antler growth patterns are about as individual as most juvenile growth patterns.  Some bucks show rapid antler growth early on, some bucks’ antlers grow at about the same rate throughout the growing season and some add a bunch of inches just before they shed their velvet.  A few bucks may add several inches this time of year, but most won’t add many inches from now until they shed velvet.

Growing Deer together,

Grant

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Sanctuary Quality and Location

Question

Between my farm and two adjacent pieces of property we have close to 60 acres of woods that border a small river which is to the south of my 180 acre farm.  Eleven acres of this woodlot is mine and borders my marsh.  The only time this area is disturbed is during the deer season, when the neighbors are hunting their piece of woodlot.  Not the best scenario, but the best I have at the present time.  I do not hunt my 11 acres and consider it my sanctuary.  With all of the rain we have had this year the area has flooded several times but drains out within a couple of days.  Will the deer use this area as a sanctuary as it is secluded and does offer some browse and acorns in the fall?

Steve

Steve,

Deer will use almost anywhere that provides cover and protection from being disturbed.  Woods that flood rarely have much vegetative cover at the ground to three foot tall level.  This is the critical cover zone for deer.  If your woods are open like a park, they are not providing high quality cover.  Deer may use it if it’s the best cover around.  However, better cover might reduce their stress and allow them to express more of their antler growth potential.

I typically like to create sanctuaries toward the middle of my property.  This allows deer to feel comfortable during daylight hours well within the borders of my property.  The benefit of this design is that it allows me an opportunity to hunt these deer before they venture to the neighbor’s property.  Deer departing from sanctuaries built on the edge of a property may only bed on my place but instantly venture onto neighboring properties.

Growing Deer together,

Grant

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Deer Population at The Proving Grounds

Question

How much land are you working?  Acreage?  What were the deer numbers before you started this project and when did you start this project?  What are the results in deer numbers now?  Great site!  My sons and I watch all the time.

Brian

Brian,

Thanks for watching GrowingDeer.tv!  The Proving Grounds is 1,576 acres of rocks and ridges.  If we could flatten it out, I’m sure it would be more than 3,000 acres.  The first year I owned the property I walked very often simply to learn every nook and cranny.  I saw one deer and found 11 sets of deer tracks (however, the soil is so rocky deer tracks are very hard to find).  Based on the camera survey last year (2009), I estimated there were 70+ deer per square mile.  I’ve really enjoyed working on the habitat improvement projects and watching the deer herd quantity and quality respond.

Growing Deer together,

Grant

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How much Potassium do Deer Require?

Question

Grant,

How much potassium do whitetails need?  Deer consume the potassium chloride pellets that I have experimentally added to mineral licks.  What would be the optimum sodium/potassium ratio for deer?

Dave

Dave,

I’m not aware of any recent research on potassium needs of white-tailed deer.  Dr. Weeks published that potassium content in a whitetail’s diet varies significantly month to month with the highest intake occurring in April (26 g/kg) and a low of 12 g/kg during February and October.  I suspect if you observed deer regularly using the potassium chloride pellets in months besides March, April, or May that either potassium levels are low in the local soils and crops, or deer were using the pellets because of the salt content.

Thanks for sharing your observations!

Growing Deer together,

Grant

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Trophy Rock Placement

Question
I have noticed that you have your Trophy Rock placed on a flat rock at all your locations.  Why?  Does it help keep the mineral stations cleaner and prevent the transfer of diseases?  Thanks for your time and I love your site.  It is so helpful!

Kevin

Kevin,

I do prefer placing Trophy Rocks on large flat rocks so they are elevated slightly above the ground.  I do this to reduce the amount of dirt deer consume while using the Trophy Rock.  Unless a parasite is present, etc., ingesting dirt won’t hurt deer.  I simply want the deer to get the full benefit of the trace minerals in the Trophy Rock!  Some minerals leach through the soil profile faster than others.  However, deer licking directly on the Trophy Rock will receive the full complement of the trace minerals.

Growing Deer together,

Grant

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Which Doe To Harvest

Question
Dr. Grant,

Hello, love the show!

On our farm we have an extremely high deer density.  On the average night while driving around my roughly 700 acres I will see around a hundred deer.  We have such a problem with crop damage that the DNR issues my uncle deer damage permits.  What type of does should I specifically look for to harvest with these summer harvest permits?  Should we be taking dominate does with fawns and hope that their button bucks will remain here on the farm?  Are fawns equipped to survive on their own at this point?

Thanks!

Andrew

Andrew,

When deer herds are overpopulated either from crop damage or herd health, I simply prescribe a doe harvest.  I never prescribe a certain age of does to be harvested.  Reducing the stress of over abundance in a deer herd will likely yield much more favorable results than could be achieved by attempting to select which does to harvest.  It is much more important to ensure the doe harvest quota is met than to worry about which does to harvest.

Fawns can survive from a nutritional point of view by July or so in most parts of the whitetails’ range (where the rut occurs during November or earlier).  However, a fawn’s odds at avoiding predators, etc., probably increase significantly in another month or so (by the beginning of deer season in most states).

Growing Deer together,

Grant

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Trophy Rock Compared to Cattle Mineral Blocks

Question

Hi Dr. Grant,

I recently went and bought two Trophy Rocks.  Your videos talking about them convinced me to try them.  What is the difference between Trophy Rocks and a mineral block from an ag store (red colored block)?  I had some thoughts on it, but I know you are more knowledgeable on them.

Thanks,

Kevin

Kevin,

Both Trophy Rocks and the standard mineral block sold at ag stores include some trace minerals.  However, there are 60+ trace minerals in Trophy Rock while the most trace minerals I’ve seen in a standard mineral bock is six.  Deer require a large number of minerals, but only require literally a trace of these minerals.  Deer will ingest some of these minerals as part of the forage they consume.  However, the mineral composition in soils and plants varies widely throughout the whitetails’ range.  Therefore, I want to provide more than six trace minerals to the deer I’m managing to ensure their growth is not limited by missing trace minerals.  Trophy Rock is a very practical method to ensure I’m providing 60+ trace minerals to a deer herd.

Growing Deer together,

Grant

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Does Temperature affect Timing of the Rut?

Question

Hi Grant,

I have seen quite a few does that are dropping late this year.  I have also read that many others around the country (Midwest belt mainly) are seeing the same thing.  I know you and others have stated this is due to a herd imbalance caused by having too many does for the bucks to breed.  I know on our farm and the surrounding properties there is probably a 1:3 ratio and this would certainly be part of the problem.  I am curious if the heat we experienced during the rut last year could also have contributed to this?  Sure seems like an awfully good coincidence to me.

Thanks for answering my question.  Keep up the good work.

Andy

Andy,

There have been multiple research projects that have compared actual conception and fawning dates of free-ranging deer (based on aging the deer fetuses from late harvested does) and several environmental factors such as temperatures, moon phase, etc.  These studies have shown that the majority of deer breed the same time each year if the herd’s population structure (age structure, adult sex ratio, etc.) doesn’t change.  Deer certainly may be a bit more active at night if the daytime temperatures are above normal, but they still want to find a date.

Growing Deer together,

Grant

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Shoot or Don’t Shoot?

Question

Hi Grant,

My buddy and I are bow hunting some land this year that will be new to us.  We’ve had our trailcams up for the past couple months and have some pictures of several pretty nice bucks.  We’re debating on whether or not we would take one of them.  Although he is pretty big he appears to be somewhat young.  He is currently looking like he would be 6 x 6 (both G1s are split), but has the potential to be a 7 x 7 this year if the main beams continue to split.  I honestly think he may only be a 2.5 or 3.5 year old deer, but he could be hard to pass on especially since there are several guys that push the deer out of there during the gun season.  We were wondering if we could get your email address and send you a couple pictures of him to get some insight on how old you believe he is?

We ran across your site from Midwestwhitetail.com, we know some of their prostaff and may actually be getting filmed this upcoming season.  Thanks for your time!

Joe

Joe,

Congratulations on finding a super buck!  A buck with a 6 x 6 frame and having split brows is very rare!  It’s very tough to pass any high-scoring buck.  However, the only chance for this buck to express his full antler growth potential is if he reaches a mature age class.  So, the decision of whether to attempt to harvest or pass this buck should be based on your deer management program and hunting objectives.  Simply stated, it’s a personal choice.

Unfortunately, I can’t provide an age estimate of all the bucks in the images folks email me.  I enjoy looking at them, but simply can’t take the time to respond to all of them.  I hope I see you passing or dragging that buck this fall on Midwest Whitetails!

Grant

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How Does Temperature Affect Deer Movement?

Question
Grant,

I was reading over your blog about habitat diversity and stress. It got me to wondering, how do deer at The Proving Grounds react to extreme heat? Do they conserve energy by bedding up most of the day, or do they still move some? Also, during extreme heat do the deer move if a storm pops up and temperatures drop, which would increase moisture in vegetation? Have you noticed weather changes that will prompt deer to move during the day with extreme heat? I hunt South Carolina and our season starts September 1st and it is still plenty hot around here. I’m looking for ideas of when to look for daytime movement during high temperatures.

Thanks,

Jim

Jim,

I agree, early September, on average, is a scorcher in much of the whitetails’ range. Deer react to changes in temperature much the same way we do. When it’s hot we run around less than when it’s cool, just like joggers that like to run in the cool, early morning hours. For deer, the main factor in movement is the difference in temperature from the average temperature for a particular time of year. For example, if the average temperature in early September is 90 degrees and a cool front comes through and drops it to 80 degrees, deer will likely be more active. However, if the temperature rises to 100 degrees the opposite occurs. This is especially true during the rut. Many hunters report that “no rut occurred” if the temps are unseasonably warm during the rut. However, there are always fawns the following spring. Even during the rut, deer tend to move mostly at night if the daytime temperatures are above normal.

Growing Deer together,

Grant

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Coyotes and Deer

 

Question
Grant,

After watching your rabbit problem on video (GDTV 33), it got me thinking.  Is it worth harvesting and trapping all of those coyotes when the rabbits will then boom in number and destroy your crops?  Do you have any research or information about how many deer are actually killed by coyotes each year?  Or perhaps how many rabbits a coyote will kill each year?  Just trying to get some justification as to why you prefer rabbit problems over coyotes?

Bobby

 

Bobby,

It is true that coyotes eat rabbits.  It is also true that coyotes eat deer, lots of deer.  I recently advised a graduate student at the University of Georgia, Cory VanGilder, who completed his thesis on coyote-deer interactions.  He found that fawn survival increased 150+% after one year of trapping coyotes.

A more recent study placed transmitters in the vagina of does that were expelled when fawns were born.  When the transmitters were expelled, they sent a different tone to the receivers which allowed researchers to locate the fawn within an average of four hours.  Sixty-seven percent of the fawns were killed and consumed, the majority by coyotes, before the researchers arrived at the birthing site.  Many recent university research projects have documented similar results.

In fact, some states are considering reducing deer season/and or bag limits due to the amount of deer being killed by coyotes.  Remember that there is only a fraction of the trappers working today compared to just ten years ago.  In addition, fur prices have been extremely low during recent years and gas prices high.  There is very little motivation for trapping except for recreation and predator reduction.

Coyotes are clearly having a huge impact on many deer herds and other game species.

Growing Deer together,

Grant

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How to Set Harvest Objectives

Question
Grant,

I have some questions about doe harvest goals and strategies.  How do you go about setting your harvest goals for The Proving Grounds?  Do you mainly base this on trail camera surveys and deer sightings?  Is your ultimate goal to have a 1:1 doe:buck ratio?

On our small farm in south central Kansas we have never practiced any kind of doe harvest.  We have loads of agriculture crops in the area and are able to grow a lot of big deer and carry them through the winter.  Very few people have permission to hunt any of the land within 3-4 square miles of us.  The more I learn about deer management the more I hear about doe:buck ratios and the more I wonder if I should be actively harvesting does.  I’m already planning to run a camera survey in August to see what I come up with, but I’m trying to get a strategy set for this hunting season.  Any information you can pass along on the subject would be great!

Thanks,

Bret

Bret,

Deer harvest goals should be based on the long-term management goals for a property.  My deer management objectives for The Proving Grounds include:

  1. Provide enough quality forage year round so each deer can express their full potential.
  2. A balanced or skewed toward bucks adult sex ratio to facilitate a synchronized fawn drop and an intensive rut for my guests and I to enjoy.

To meet these goals, I use utilization cages and monitor the amount of quality forage available during August and February/March.  If quality food is scarce during these times, I know I need to remove more adult does from the local herd.  I also monitor body weights, antler growth per age class, etc., to confirm that deer are or are not expressing their full potential.  Such analyses shouldn’t be made from one deer, but from an average of all observations.

I use trail cameras to collect data on the adult sex ratio, average antler development, fawn recruitment, etc.

On the buck side, my guests and I attempt to harvest bucks that are 4 ½ years old and older.  I make an exception for my children, which have the green light to harvest any deer that presents a safe opportunity.

In summary, I use several indicators to monitor the condition of the herd, and design my harvest program to achieve my herd and habitat management objectives.

Growing Deer together,

Grant

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Button Buck Dispersal

Question
Does shooting a doe that has her buck fawn with her in early fall mean that that buck fawn will stay in that area rather than being pushed out by his mother?  If so, after years of this practice would inbreeding become a problem?

Thank you much for everything that you do on this site.  Can we get more episodes?  My week feels longer as I wait in anticipation for the next show, almost as bad as waiting to check a trail cam!!

Thanks much,

Ben

Ben,

Thanks for the kind words!  A fellow grad student while I was at the University of Georgia addressed this question by placing telemetry equipment on approximately 20 does that had male buck fawns (these were free-ranging deer).  He removed half of the does after their fawns were weaned.  In the group that he removed the does, most of the now yearling bucks survived the next hunting season compared to only one yearling buck from the group of does that were not harvested.  It appeared the high rate of survival was because this group of yearling bucks didn’t disperse.  The doe was not there to drive these yearling bucks out of their home range.  Other studies have shown similar, but not as significant results.

Although inbreeding is frequently blamed for poor antler development, low rates of fawn survival, and other undesirable characteristics, it has never been shown to be a problem in free-ranging, wild white-tailed deer.  The genetic make-up of white-tailed deer is extremely diverse.  I believe it would take many, many generations to result in a problem.  In fact, folks that hold deer in captivity use inbreeding among their herds in an effort to pass on desirable traits (so do beef farmers, dairy farmers, etc.).  I’m sure this could result in problems after several generations, but the odds of that happening for several generations in a free-ranging, wild population of deer are extremely low.  It is simply not a concern.  I and my clients have literally harvested 1,000’s of does during the course of my career and have been blessed to watch the herd quality improve in many quantifiable ways.

I strongly encourage you to harvest enough does to balance the local herd’s adult sex ratio and limit the herd’s density to a level that each deer has ample quality forage year round.

Growing Deer together,

Grant

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Whitetail Antler Development

Question
What percent of antler growth has taken place by the 4th of July?  I have heard 2/3 to 3/4.

Thank you,

Matt

Matt,

I’m not aware of any published research about the percent to total antler growth by specific dates.  July 4th would be approximately the midpoint of the antler growth season throughout most of the whitetails’ range.  However, I’ve noticed some bucks seem to express a high percentage of their growth early while others appear to stack on the inches during the last portion of July.

This is much like humans.  For example, I was the second tallest kid in my fifth grade class. However, I wasn’t noticeably tall compared to other males in my high school class.  I gained height early while others grew later in their development cycle.

I’ve looked at 20,000+ Reconyx images during the past few weeks and I’d say some bucks have expressed ½ or more of their antler growth and others haven’t grown enough that I can identify them yet.  Unless I see something really unusual, I reserve estimating a buck’s antler potential until August.

Growing Deer together,

Grant

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Pen Raised Deer

Question
Is there a way to increase enzymatic activity in the rumen so deer will eat more and/or absorb more thus becoming larger?  I see pen raised deer that are immature that still have nice racks.  I figure this is due to food consumption.  If he takes care of his body early, he is able to devote more of his energy to antler development.

Darren

Darren,

I don’t work much with captive deer herds.  There have been several experiments with feed additives in the cattle market with mixed success.  Using such additives for deer is too close to domestication for my preferences.   My personal passion is to manage free-ranging herds and habitat so they can express their potential.

Growing Deer together,

Grant

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Color Variations in the Wild

Question
Great Website!  I enjoy the information.  I find myself more attracted to shows and sites that provide me information on how I can be more successful.  I have seen enough shows of harvesting animals.

Now for my question, I filmed a bronze (reddish) hen this spring and wanted to know what you thought made her like this?  I really enjoy filming and doing a little writing.  She is truly God’s beautiful creation and so unique.  I was very happy to get her on film.

What are your thoughts?

Toxie

Toxie,

Congratulations on capturing such a unique observation on video.  A wild critter’s coloration is critical to their survival.  There are white tadpoles born, but they rarely survive because predators can find them much easier than normal colored tadpoles.  This is probably why wild critters usually have much less variation in skin and hair color compared to humans.  Variation in color usually means a higher likelihood of being consumed by a predator.  The hen you filmed obviously has a pattern that allows her to be just as successful at avoiding predation as a normal hen color.

Thanks again for sharing footage and your appreciation of God’s creation!

Growing Deer together,

Grant

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How I Use Trophy Rock

Question
I see you are a fan of Trophy Rock.  I have been using it for over 15 years now.  The application process of placing it on a flat rock is something I have never done.  So I am wondering, have I been using the Trophy Rock incorrectly all these years?  We usually place the Trophy Rock in a flat area where trails seem to converge.  We scrape a spot out and sometimes dig a little then put the rock in that spot.  We then set up a camera to see what is visiting the spot.  Any suggestions to use it better?  Do your deer lick, paw or eat the dirt around the Trophy Rock that has been on the flat rock?

Jim

Jim,

I do like Trophy Rock on large flat  rocks in areas of high deer usage.  If I place the Trophy Rock by a water source I always place it downhill from the water source, so it doesn’t leak directly into the water.

I have literally thousands of pictures of deer licking the rock.  There is certainly evidence that deer will paw, or likely consume, the dirt where the Trophy Rock has leaked off the rock I have placed it on.  My objective is for the deer to consume Trophy Rock to obtain a full complement of trace minerals.  In addition, it is probably a bit more sanitary to place the Trophy Rock up on a non-permeable surface compared to placing it directly on the ground.

Growing Deer together,

Grant

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Buck Addiction

Question
There is a fairly new seed company out of Thayer, Missouri called Buck Addiction.  I’ve been asked about the seed by quite a few customers and was hoping you could shed some light on it for me.  Have you tried any of their products?  Do you know anything about them?  Supposedly their products are supposed to be great for my rocky Taney County soil.

Lance

Lance,

I am not familiar with the company or their product.  I look forward to hearing from you if you do experiment with them.  Thanks for watching GrowingDeer.tv!

Growing Deer together,

Grant

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Minerals to Include for Whitetails

Question
Two questions:

Each spring, I establish a mineral lick (for each 70 acres) with approximately 5# of dicalcium phosphate and 15-20# of NaCl.  My understanding is that the deer are reluctant to eat the mineral without the salt as an attractant.  This year, my local feed dealer changed from dicalcium phosphate to monocalcium phospate.  Is this as good or should I endeavor to local dical?  (I understand that phosphorous is essential for maximum uptake of calcium — which in turn is utilized for antler development in bucks and important for pregnant and lactating does).

The latest edition of “Deer and Deer Hunting” (Summer 2010, p. 11) states “Leaves and woody browse are especially high in protein.  For example, hard maple browse contains about 7% crude protein and 10% crude fiber, which makes for great nutrition and a good source of roughage.”  This is contrary to what I have thought for years.  A 7% level of protein is, from my knowledge, a borderline unacceptable level for even body maintenance — much less to allow for a doe or buck to come even CLOSE to their potential.  This would appear to be particularly true if the doe is in her last trimester of pregnancy (or lactating) or if the buck is developing antlers.  Can you comment?

Barry

Barry,

You are correct that both calcium and phosphorous are two of the minerals deer need in relatively large quantities to express their potential.  Given this, I would prefer the blend that included dicalcium phosphate more than monocalcium phosphate.  However, deer need to consume several different minerals in order to express their potential.  That is why I use Trophy Rock as a mineral supplement.  It includes 60+ trace minerals.  These are mostly in small amounts.  However, most high quality daily multivitamins are very small and provide more than enough mineral content for adult humans.  Making sure mineral supplements are available throughout the year is a very good practice.

I haven’t read the article you referenced.  However, 7% is not considered a “high” level of crude protein for white-tailed deer.  In fact, you are correct that it is not even considered a maintenance level by most deer biologists I know.  Certainly, deer that were maintained on a diet of 7% crude protein would not express their full growth potential.

Growing Deer together,

Grant

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Do Deer Consume Cannabis?

Question
I’m not sure if the Tulsa news makes it up to you in Missouri but we recently had a large cannabis field found on public hunting land in northeast Oklahoma. It made me wonder, do deer consume cannabis/hemp?

J Damon

J Damon,

Cannabis in May? I’ve heard that cannabis is consumed by deer, especially when it is young. Hopefully, they consume it all and save our law enforcement friends some work!

Growing Deer together,

Grant

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How to Deal with Buckthorn

Question
Have you ever dealt with Buckthorn? Our property in Minnesota has a growing Buckthorn problem and we are looking for solutions to help eliminate it. Thank you for your time and advice.

Jonathan

Jonathan,

Unfortunately, there are gads of plants that share the common name of Buckthorn. I think I know what you are talking about, but never wish to prescribe a control program without knowing for sure.

Check out the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources website and determine if we are talking about the same species. If so, there is a thorough explanation of control techniques on that site. If we are describing the same species, early control is much easier and less expensive than waiting until it spreads.

Growing Deer together,

Grant

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Predicting Acorn Yield

Question
Grant

Is there a way to tell what the acorn mass will be this fall by looking at the trees in the spring? We haven’t had a bumper crop in 8 years. Two hundred and fifty miles west, on another farm, it seems to hit every 3 years. Can a frost or heavy rain, maybe even a strong wind, affect the acorns?

I look forward to seeing your new video each week.

Thanks,

Chad

Chad,

I’m not aware of any reliable method during the spring to predict acorn production for the following fall. Oaks produce flowers, although their flowers aren’t showy like many plants. These flowers can be damaged by frost, heavy rain, hail, etc. Once the flowers are pollinated, another gad of events can prevent the young acorns from developing. This is why acorn production is so variable! In fact, in areas where acorns are the primary food source during the fall/winter, it’s best to keep the herd density at a low level so there is plenty of food during years of minimal acorn production. Years of good acorn yield should be considered a bonus food source because it is so unreliable. Otherwise there will be many years when the herd is malnourished.

Growing Deer together,

Grant

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Nutritional Value of Acorns During Spring

Question
Grant,
Thanks for the great website.

My property is located in central Wisconsin. We receive approximately 1 – 2 feet of snow through a typical winter. The snow is typically covering the ground from December through March. Low temps fall below zero occasionally throughout a normal winter. What is the nutritional value of the acorns that I see on the ground in March/April compared to the same acorns that fell off of the oaks in August/September of the previous year? Does the snow and cold protect the nutritional value of the acorns or do the nutrients within the acorns deplete with time?

Thanks in advance and keep up the great service that you are providing with GrowingDeer.tv.

Craig

Craig,

I don’t know the answer to your question. I did a quick search and didn’t find any relevant information. White oak acorns often germinate during the fall, unless it gets cold very soon. If the acorns you found were cracked, etc., I doubt they have much nutritional value. Red Oak acorns usually remain whole much longer. It’s possible Red Oak acorns could maintain their nutritional value if they remain whole and dry. If they were positioned in water or the temperatures were warm enough that the moisture wasn’t frozen, it’s likely some mold or fungus would grow on them by spring.

Addressing your question from another point of view, I very rarely notice acorns in the stomach content of deer harvested for research this time of year. It would seem deer are not readily consuming acorns during the early spring.

If you learn differently, please let me know.

Growing Deer together,

Grant

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What to Plant in Fire Breaks?

Question
I have fire breaks and a couple of old roads on my property. I would like your suggestions on a planting solution for those openings, be it a clover combination, one particular clover or something else.

Joseph

Joseph,

Planting fire breaks/old roads is good management and can be used to create outstanding hunting locations! If your fire breaks are bordered by thinned pines, then almost any forage crop can be used. If the fire breaks are around hardwoods or closed canopy pines, then several clover varieties might be the best choice as they are relatively shade tolerant.

There are several brands of clover or clover mixes on the market. I’m sure many would work. However, I was impressed with the Durana Clover that was planted in the thinned rows of a pine stand that was shown on the April 5th episode of GrowingDeer.tv (GDTV 19).

Many of the forage brassicas also do well in areas that receive partial sunlight. The more sunlight that reaches the ground, the more options you have when planting forage crops.

Growing Deer together,

Grant

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Holding Antlers during Late Winter a Good Sign!

Question
On March 26, 2010 I got a beautiful picture of a four point buck. I was very surprised! I live in Attica, New York (between Buffalo and Rochester).

I was told that he didn’t cast his antlers because his system doesn’t have enough mineral content. Can this be true? I have never come across this before and I am a 63 year old avid hunter.

Thank you for any information. Love your articles.

Thomas

Thomas,

In areas of good habitat, it’s common for healthy bucks to hold their antlers until late March. In fact, we had several trail camera images of bucks with antlers during late March at The Proving Grounds this year. I consider seeing bucks holding their antlers during late winter a sign of good habitat and the health of that buck. Thanks for the kind words!

Growing Deer together,

Grant

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Is my goal of growing and hunting a 200″ buck realistic for my property?

Question
I have a 1000 acre piece here in southwest Wisconsin. I have been improving the property since I bought it 5 years ago. I plant 40 acres of crops yearly for wildlife, including beans and corn as well as winter wheat and alfalfa. Twenty-five to fifty does are shot yearly and that still isn’t enough. I see (and shoot) 1-2 bucks per year in the 160-165 range, obviously older deer. My goal is to see/grow a buck in the 190-200 inch range, but I’m becoming skeptical that it can happen. These deer seem to top out in the 150-165 range at 4-6 years. Am I being naive about what this area can produce? There have been several deer over 200 inches shot in the surrounding 25 mile radius over the last several years. My neighbor killed a 186 typical 10 with 4 inches or better broken off a tine 2 years ago. What is realistic?

Gary

Gary,

It sounds as if you have a great management program to meet your mission of producing mature bucks. To estimate the potential maximum BC score that can be expected from a property, I frequently attempt to find the score of the top ten bucks harvested in the neighborhood or similar habitat. I then consider the management potential of the property in question (amount of quality food, cover, and water), and the current practices on the neighboring properties. I also consider the size of the properties where the largest bucks in the neighborhood were harvested (why did those bucks survive to maturity?). It sounds as if you’ve completed a similar analysis.

Based on the information you have provided me, it seems realistic for a 200” class buck to be produced and harvested on/near your property. With that said, remember that producing and harvesting a free-ranging 200” class buck is a VERY rare event. If that is truly your goal, it is critical to make sure each deer has all the quality food, cover, and water they want. A good indicator that these conditions exist is if there is plenty of quality forage available during late summer and late winter. In addition, it’s best to pass all bucks until they are four years old or older so their antler growth potential can be estimated. Then, the best four year olds should be passed a few more years as many bucks don’t express their full antler growth potential until they are six years old or older. Yes, passing a 170” class buck is tough, but often necessary to produce 200” class bucks. Attempting to produce a 200” deer requires intense management and discipline. Each person must evaluate the costs and benefits, like we should in all activities in life.

Growing Deer together,

Grant

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What Determines when Bucks Shed their Antlers?

Question

We own 230 acres in west central Mississippi. This February we collected 9 sheds, all branched antlers. I have heard you indicate that when bucks shed their antlers it is an indication of herd health. Can you explain more on this subject? This was our most productive year finding sheds. The most we have found in the past was 3. I love the info you give on this site, good luck with it.

Thank you,

Gary

Gary,

With exception for injuries or disease, the initiation of antler growth, shedding velvet and antler casting is determined by the length of daylight. Changes in the length of daylight triggers a release of hormones by glands in a buck’s body. However, changes in the amount of daylight determine a range of dates for antler shedding, and not exact dates. Wounded or malnourished bucks tend to cast their antlers earlier while well-feed bucks that are not exposed to high levels of stress will cast later. Captive deer, with relatively constant diets and stress levels tend to shed about the same time annually. However, there can be a wide range of dates when free-ranging bucks shed their antlers based on the overall environmental conditions that year and the conditions of each individual buck.

Growing Deer together,

Grant

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Aging Deer by Using the Lower Jaw

Question
First off, this is a great site with wonderful information. I love seeing folks that like to share their experiences, that’s what it’s all about. Keep up the great work Grant.

I was curious if you could add to your previous jawbone segment by showing the actual extraction process this fall on one of these episodes?

Thanks,

Andy

Andy,

Thank you for the encouraging words! I literally film whatever I’m working on each week. I age gads of deer using the tooth wear and replacement technique so that would be a likely subject this fall. Thanks for the suggestion!

Growing Deer together,

Grant

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What is the Impact of Free-ranging Dogs on a Deer Herd?

Question
Dear Grant,

Thanks for having a great site for hard core deer managers. I especially enjoyed seeing you and your Dad hunt together! It brought back many fond memories of hunts with my Dad and Grandfather.

On the family farm that we hunt, we have a problem with free running pet dogs. How much of an impact do these dogs have on our deer herd? I have seen and heard 2 beagle size dogs run across the 250 acre farm howling all the way. The farm is in southeast Iowa and 50/50 timber and CRP. We planted 40 acres of NWSG 2 years ago for cover and it is 6 feet tall. We also planted 7 acres of alfalfa, 4 acres of clover, and 8 acres of RR soy beans. Attempts to find the owners of these dogs have been futile.

Thanks,

Mike

Mike,

I really enjoy hunting with my father. In fact, he joined me last weekend to look for sheds! I hope I’m physically able and have the desire to walk that much when I’m 79 years old!

The habitat at your family farm sounds great! It’s sad when a family makes the level of commitment yours obviously has to improve wildlife habitat and then have recreational experiences damaged by free-ranging dogs owned by irresponsible owners. Not only can free-ranging dogs spoil hunting experiences, they harass and kill wildlife!! Sadly enough, such dogs are protected in some states. Where they are not protected, it seems dogs that roam shouldn’t go home.

Growing Deer together,

Grant

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Injured Deer

Question

Grant,

I feed corn to deer at my house. A buck came up that had a bad wound to the left front leg. Can I add something to the corn that will help him “beef” up and help him heal? He is a young deer but had a good 6 point rack so I would like him to pull through the cold weather.

Lynn

Lynn,

I’m not aware of any antibiotics, etc., that are licensed to administer to free-ranging deer. However, most wild critters have a tremendous ability to heal without any medications. Unless the wound is infected or a bone is broken, he will probably heal without complication. There is a good chance the left side of his rack will grow in a non-typical form this fall. Injuries on the front legs tend to result in non-typical rack growth on the same side, and injuries behind the shoulders usually result in non-typical antler growth on the opposite side. Let me know how this buck progresses!

Growing Deer together,

Grant

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What is the Real Benefit of Corn?

Question

Last Saturday I heard you on the “Hunt Life” radio show. You commented that because of the weather a lot of corn in the Midwest has not been harvested yet, and as a result the local herds will be in excellent condition this spring. I’ve heard corn doesn’t have any real protein value for a deer. How is it going to help, other than another food source?

Greg

Greg,

Corn is low in protein (Iowa corn averaged less than 8% protein this year) compared to soybean forage or soybean grain. However, corn is very high in energy! Energy is very important during the winter when the deer herd is trying to stay warm. With extra energy coming in by way of corn consumption, the deer’s body is under less stress.

Both energy and protein are extremely important components of a deer’s diet which allows them to express their potential! Deer can survive on a diet high in energy and low in protein, or low energy and high in protein, but they won’t express their full potential unless they have ample supplies of both! I prefer ample quantities of both beans and corn — that’s why the Midwest ag belt produces the majority of deer that express a lot of their potential (record book deer)!

Growing Deer together,

Grant

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Where do Bucks get Antler Genetics From?

Question

Grant,

Where do bucks get antler genetics from, mother or father?

Thanks,

Mitchell

Mitchell,

Researchers are starting to understand more and more about heritable traits of whitetails. But the level of research or knowledge about heritability related to antler size and shape is still mostly unknown. It has been reported that approximately 70% of antler characteristics are passed from the doe. If this is correct, it would go a long ways toward explaining why the culling of bucks has shown only a marginal increase in average antler size of free-ranging bucks.

Growing Deer together,

Grant

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Supplemental Deer Feeding in the Ozarks

Question

Grant,

I live in the Midwest down by Branson, Missouri. I am not a landowner so therefore I cannot put out a food plot. I hunt by permission only on several large hardwood acreages. I want to nurture some whitetail herds on a property that I hunt. Is there a trace mineral supplement for antler growth and herd health that I can buy for my herd? I passively feed corn in the off season but they compete with turkey and squirrels and other birds for the corn. What do you recommend? Or, is there a protein supplement you might recommend?

Kurt (Missouri)

Kurt,

I grew up in the area and hunted on land owned by others, so I relate to your situation. I currently live near Branson and know the low quality nutritional forage available on tracts that are primarily hardwood forest.

I use Trophy Rock to provide deer on my property trace minerals. This is an important part of my overall herd management plan. It’s important to state that a good mineral program by itself can’t compensate for a lack of quality forage. If this was the case, we could solve world hunger by providing vitamin/mineral tablets.

There are other steps you can take that, along with minerals, will help improve the herd quality where you hunt. Short of writing an entire management plan, the following are brief guidelines that should be considered…

First, work toward balancing the herd’s density with the habitat’s capacity to produce quality forage. The simplest method to achieve this is to reduce the herd’s density by harvesting does. Some hunters, especially in areas dominated by hardwoods, don’t like this method because the resulting deer herd density can be so low that they rarely observe deer. The quality/quantity trade-off is one to consider thoroughly before implementing. This trade-off is much easier in areas with grain production as the deer density can be much higher while still providing access to ample quality food.

Next, insure bucks are being allowed to reach maturity. Remember that age is strongly correlated to antler size. No matter how much quality food a yearly buck eats, he’s still a yearling buck. He may be a great yearling, but he won’t produce his best antlers until he’s much more mature. Passing young bucks or “trigger finger management” is critical to meeting your objective of hunting bucks with larger antlers.

Just beginning a supplemental feeding program will not compensate for too many deer (remember that each deer consumes a ton or more annually) or lack of buck age structure in the local herd. To produce and harvest mature bucks on a sustained basis requires ample quality forage available to bucks that reach a mature age. This can be accomplished anywhere, but it certainly requires more resources in some areas compared to others.

Growing Deer together,

Grant

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Is Feeding Corn Harmful to Deer in Winter?

Question

Grant,

I have recently read an article about how feeding deer corn in these late winter months is harmful to the deer. I’m guilty of feeding them behind my house here in the city. But with 20 inches of snow that has been on the ground going on three weeks, I didn’t think it would be too harmful to them. Why is feeding them corn so harmful? If there is an alternative feed what would it be?

Thanks,

Michael

Michael,

This has been an ongoing debate for years. I think this debate, like most debates, is due to a lack of information. Deer eat literally millions of pounds of corn annually!! Deer in the corn belt eat corn before it is harvested and search the harvested fields day after day for spilled grain until it’s plowed under or spring green up occurs and alternate food sources become available. In some states where feeding/baiting is legal, deer consume tons and tons of corn and have for decades. Corn is a fine source of carbohydrates for deer (any many other critters)!

With that said, I think it’s best to explain why some folks rightfully say it might be harmful to feed deer corn in some circumstances. Deer ingest food items, but microorganisms in their gut actually breakdown the food items and/or convert it into forms that can be absorbed from the digestive tract into the body. There are many different species of these microorganisms in a deer’s gut. Some breakdown certain types of nutrients better than others. The microorganisms get their food from the ingested items they help deer process. So, if deer haven’t had much to eat (like can occur during late winter) the microorganisms haven’t had much to eat either. In fact, many of the microorganism populations can decrease significantly.

This is the source of the potential problem, adding corn or any type of food deer haven’t been consuming. The populations of microorganisms in the deer’s gut necessary for digesting any food item can be too low. So low that the ingested food can’t be digested and absorbed by the deer. When this occurs, the deer can die from starvation with a full stomach.

So, if you started with small amounts of corn and worked up, there would most likely be no problem. However, problems or death do occur when deer ingest a lot of a food item that they haven’t been consuming. The problems are usually magnified if the deer is under additional stress such as being malnourished, etc. Feeding programs can do more damage than good if sudden large changes are made to a deer’s diet.

Growing Deer together,

Grant

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Why do Deer Eat Dead Leaves?

Question

Grant:

Thanks for your kinds words about our troops now serving on foreign soils (Grant’s February 8th, 2010 blog entry). I can’t tell you how much it means to me to be able to link onto your site and the QDMA. Along with church service, your site helps me keep my head on straight. Yes, I may not be in the states but once a deer geek always a deer geek!

Here’s a question no biologist has ever fully answered for me. Why in the world do deer eat dead leaves? With no nutritional value can we assume it’s just something to fill the rumen?

Love ya buddy,

CJ

Blessings from Afghanistan

Gen 1:28

CJ,

I remember a study on fallen leaves from wild grapes that showed they retained traces of certain minerals. Deer have the ability to identify food sources that have traces of vitamins and minerals that they need (I assume by smell). I suspect they consume various fallen leaves to obtain needed vitamins and minerals if they are not readily available from a better source. Remember — this is simply an assumption. In areas of poor habitat, fallen leaves may be one of the only food items. Be safe in Afghanistan! I’m sure the deer at home are glad you’re away!

Growing Deer together,

Grant

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Is There an Itch Associated with Antler Shedding?

Question

Several of my peers as well as myself have noticed Young Bucks (in person as well as trail cameras) rubbing their ears and forehead like crazy this time of the year. I speculate the area around the buttons and small antlers may “itch” like when a scab is forming. Does this have any scientific backing? Can these areas itch before the antlers or buttons shed?

Michael

Michael,

Great observation! I agree with your theory. However, I don’t know of any scientists that have researched irritation or “itch” associated with the antler shedding process. One of the great features of my job as a deer biologist is that I’ll never run out of fun research projects!

Growing Deer together,

Grant

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Limiting Factors and Learning Curves

Question

Dr. Grant,

Great information!

I live in a very heavy agricultural area. Should I focus my farm habitat efforts on creating interior areas that are thick or should I focus on providing standing crops (corn & soybeans) on the interior of my property? Also, why does it seem that some deer have to develop a “taste” for foods like brassicas?

Jason (Ohio)

Jason,

You’re on the right track! It’s a great technique to identify “the low hole in the bucket.” By that, I mean to identify if food, cover, or water are in limited supply in the area. In areas that are predominately agricultural, cover and food are usually in short supply during the winter as most crops are harvested. If you can’t dedicate some land for permanent cover, standing corn will work for cover during the late season. Standing soybeans are a great food source for deer during the late season. By providing the “limiting factor” you help the herd and create some outstanding hunting opportunities!

As for deer needing to develop a taste for brassicas, most deer don’t recognize plants they haven’t seen before as food. For example, there are no soybeans grown near my place. The first two years I grew soybeans I don’t think deer consumed a single leaf. About year three I started noticing some leaves missing. Now, deer readily consume soybean forage and pods at my place. The same learning curve applies to any new forage planted in an area. Now if I could just get my daughters to eat spinach!

Growing Deer together,

Grant

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Do Raccoons Hurt Deer?

Question

Grant,

In this video (GDTV 10) are you saying raccoons are bad for deer?

Mark

Mark,

Raccoons consume many of the same food items as deer such as persimmons, blackberries, corn, etc. They often attempt to consume them at the same time as deer. I’ve reviewed 100’s of trail camera images of raccoons at a food source challenging deer. This by itself isn’t a major problem, but when raccoon population densities get high, it’s a constant form of stress for deer. I like raccoons, but I like deer more, so I opt to favor deer and attempt to reduce raccoon populations.

I really like to turkey hunt, and many research projects have reported raccoons as being the most frequent predator of turkey nests. This alone is enough reason for me to trap raccoons and share their pelts with family and friends.

Growing Deer together,

Grant

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How do I See More Mature Bucks?

Question

I have got to say your book, “Deer Management 101″, is the best book about deer management I have read so far. My father and I have 70 acres in Arkansas. In your book (page 70 & 71) you talk about letting deer mature. On our land we have trail pictures of mature bucks, but we mainly see immature bucks. We hunt hard from day break till the sun is down and pass on the immature bucks. We feed the deer on our land but we just can’t seem to take the mature bucks. Do you know any ways of getting the population up and helping us see more mature bucks? Thanks and thank you for signing the book that John Luther got me. If he sent you the picture, that is him and me holding the book in the Catfish Hole.

Wesley

Wesley,

Thanks for the kind comments about Deer Management 101: Manage Your Way to Better Hunting! Sounds like your land is producing some great bucks! It’s often easier to produce mature bucks than it is to harvest them. By the time a buck reaches 4+ years of age, he’s obviously gained much skill at avoiding predators (2 and 4 legged). On the other end of the spectrum, yearling bucks seem to look for trouble. They move frequently in open areas and during daylight hours. This is why I often don’t select stand sites where I’ll see the most deer. If the bulk of the herd is traveling there, mature bucks are probably traveling at a different place or time. This fall, you might try selecting different stand sites doing your best to minimize disturbance. Consider placing more emphasis on figuring out when and where mature bucks are moving, and less time hunting. Trail cameras can be a great tool for patterning mature bucks with minimal disturbance. By changing your tactics, you may not see as many deer, but you’ll probably have a better chance of seeing a mature buck.

Keep me posted as you develop a different hunting strategy. It sounds like it’s time you apply Woods rule #2 about deer hunting and management — don’t do the same thing and expect different results!

Growing Deer together,

Grant

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When and Where do Bucks Shed Antlers?

Question

Hi Grant,

I’ve heard that peak antler loss comes between February 15 & March 15. And further, that Whitetail sheds are most often found on sunny South-facing slopes with tall grasses rather than in the hardwood. Have you observed any patterns for antler loss or do you have any shed hunting tips as we approach shed season?

Thanks! Really enjoy your site!

Kyle

Kyle,

Thanks for watching GrowingDeer.tv! Antlers are shed as a response to chemical changes within a buck’s body. These changes are generally stimulated by changes in the amount of time the sun shines daily. However, within this window, several factors such as available nutrition, general health, and dominance ranking can determine when an individual buck sheds his antlers. For example, deer researchers often mention observing two dominate bucks in captivity fighting during this time of year. The loser will shed his antlers soon (sometimes the next day). It seems hard to imagine that antlers will simply fall off one day due to a change in dominance status (along with hormone levels) but these examples seem to indicate that’s the case. Never underestimate the effects of hormones on all critters!

So yes, antlers for most bucks tend to be shed during the late winter months. However, some bucks will shed earlier due to other factors. Generally speaking, the healthier the herd, the longer bucks will hold their antlers! I like seeing some bucks with antler during Missouri’s turkey season! Bucks healthy enough to hold antlers that late into the winter are an excellent indicator of a healthy deer herd. It also indicates that the habitat is likely good for turkeys also!

Bucks tend to shed their antlers where they spend the most time. Hence, I like to search for sheds at or near food sources and bedding areas. South slopes are often the warmest areas for deer to bed. South slopes with bedding cover do tend to be target rich environments when searching for sheds.

When you start finding sheds, please send some pictures to info@growingdeer.tv.

Growing Deer together,

Grant

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Do Bucks Bed in Old Buildings?

Question

I was watching the hunt with your father using that old cow barn for cover (GDTV 8). I have found — more than once — bucks living in old buildings just like that. This past December I shot a buck while he was bedded down in an old house. I found his bed when scouting trails in the area. I’d followed a trail up to the house where it ended in a place so tracked-up the leaves and 22″ of snow where down to bare ground. The buck was going in and out of the house through the window. So when scouting for places to set-up for a hunt, if there are old buildings around, take a close look to make sure the deer are not using it for their home!

Walt

Walt,

I’ve heard about hunters locating deer sign in abandoned structures before — but never of a hunter shooting a buck while he was bedded in such a place! I’m going to think twice before napping in an abandoned house next time!

Growing Deer together,

Grant

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Shed Antlers with Skull Bone Attached

Question

Through the years, including this year, I have found shed antlers that obviously have part of the skull attached to them. Why would deer be so aggressive about removing their antlers and are these deer likely to survive?

Don

Don,

The normal antler shedding process doesn’t include bucks losing part of their skull. Bone loss with antlers usually is a symptom of a brain abscess. Brain abscesses are usually caused by an injury to the skull cap that allows bacteria to enter the brain cavity. These bacteria are very acidic and cause erosion of the skull bones. These weaker skull bones fracture and can remain attached to an antler. The loss of skull bones is never good!! However, it’s rarely known what happens to free-ranging bucks with this condition. There is some research that indicates such bucks probably don’t act normally and are much more susceptible to predation by two or four legged predators. However, it’s obviously a minor source of mortality as many herds maintain a large percentage of bucks into maturity if they are not harvested by hunters as immature bucks.

Growing Deer together,

Grant

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Will Spikes Always be Inferior?

Question

Grant,

I see spikes in my hunting areas from time to time. These deer are at least one and a half years old. They may never be a dominant deer so should I take them out or see if potential comes with age?

Waco

Waco,

It is very difficult to predict a buck’s future antler growth based on his first set of antlers! A buck’s first set of antlers is greatly influenced by several factors including: his birth date, condition of his mother while he was a fetus, the quality and quantity of food while he was growing his first set of antlers, etc. In addition, yearling bucks (1 and 1/2 years old) rarely express much of their total antler growth potential. One thing is for sure, dead deer don’t grow. If your goal is to hunt mature bucks, don’t harvest immature bucks.

Growing Deer together,

Grant

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Do Deer Migrate during Tough Seasons?

Question

Grant,

During times of extreme winter conditions will deer with limited food resources move from their core areas in search of food or hunker down and tough it out where they are?

Robin (Missouri)

Robin,

I was taught that Queen Isabella funded Columbus’ voyage to determine if the world was round. She did this because she believed the world was flat and Hades started at the horizon. Columbus was willing to gamble his life that the world is round and no harm would happen when he reached the horizon. Most deer tend to be like Queen Isabella. They are very hesitant to leave their home range for any reason. The exception is primarily yearling bucks. Most of us probably remember being in the equivalent life stage as a yearling buck – no fear, without mom for first time, and yearlwanting to roam. However, the other sex/age classes of a deer herd seem to fear the unknown. Fellow biologist Dr. Harry Jacobson and his grad students did a study years ago on this subject.

Briefly, these researchers placed long-life radio collars on deer in a portion of National Forest in Mississippi where browse for deer was very scarce. They monitored the collared deer for a year to establish their maximum home range boundaries. During year 2, they established some food plots just outside these boundaries. No collared deer made one visit to those lush plots even though they were living where little food was available. The third year new plots were created on the edge of the collared deer’s known home range and they rapidly found and utilized the plots!

Today the high was 14° at The Proving Grounds (where I live). I observed several deer in my soybean and wheat plots this morning while checking traps. Later, I saw some deer about three miles away trying to find a morsel of food in an overgrazed cow pasture. If those deer believed like Columbus, they’d have probably found the standing beans at The Proving Grounds.  However, they were more like Queen Isabella — standing on the shore thinking death awaited them at the horizon. Many studies have confirmed that most deer make the Queen Isabella choice, but there are a few that share Columbus’ willingness to adventure.

Growing Deer together,

Grant

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