Age is the easiest component to manage when growing bigger bucks.
QUESTION: I’ve heard it takes three things to make bucks grow big racks: age, nutrition and genetics. Which one is the most important?
ANSWER: As with many things, it depends. Most bucks probably have the genetic potential to grow a large set of antlers, given the proper amount of nutrition and time. There are exceptions, but they are just that.
Most areas should have sufficient nutrition, provided there aren’t too many mouths to feed. The best way to manage that is to keep the population in balance with habitat by removing a sufficient number of deer each year. You can also provide more nutrition with food plots, mast orchards and supplemental feed.
The variable over which you have the most control, at least on private land is age. Let them go, and they will grow. Bear in mind that you can’t stockpile bucks.
Available nutrition will always be a limiting factor, but intraspecific aggression also factors in. More mature bucks means more fighting, which can lead to injury and death. That’s why it’s important to take a few top-end bucks as well, which is really the goal of most hunters, anyway. — Recent Ask the Biologist Question:
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