Do some areas have better genetics for producing larger antlers than other areas?

By Grant Woods,

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Dr Woods,

Are certain areas in the MidWest more genetically gifted for growing larger racked whitetails? I know you like to discuss whitetail habitat because it can be manipulated to improve antler growth. Genetics not so much in a wild herd. But, won’t you agree that the true rate limiting step to growing MONSTER 200″+ whitetails are the genetics specific to that animal(s). Do these 200″ genetics occur at random throughout the range of the different whitetail sub-species. Or, are there areas such as Western WI, South Central Iowa, NE Missouri, etc etc that have higher genetic potential to grow 200″ whitetails.

I know after watching/managing a herd for over a decade in WI (1000+ acres on multiple properties) that certain antler characteristics are specific for certain “micro” habitats. Suggesting, genetics of the local herd of animals may be at play with ample food available and minimal stress on these larger properties. I would love to hear your thoughts…. seeing as the last growing deer tv episode focused on Mississippi study showing that the genetic potential existed, but was essentially masked by inadequate nutrition.


I’m not aware of any research that shows some areas have better genetics than others for producing large antlered bucks.  

You mentioned northern Missouri.  That’s a great example!  There wasn’t a deer season in any northern Missouri counties when I was a child.  Missouri has great stocking records and many of the deer used to stock the northern Missouri counties were from Taney County – where I live!  So – same genetics in northern Missouri where many BC bucks are tagged and Taney County where a BC buck has never been recorded.  

Clearly the difference in soil quality and forage (soybeans versus timber) accounts for the differences.  Within any location there will be huge genetic diversity among deer.  I don’t believe the BC distribution map reflects differences in regional genetic diversity. Rather if reflects differences in habitat quality and management (age structure due to state regulations, etc.).

Enjoy creation!