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Author Topic: Can You Grow Better Bucks in Florida? by Bacwoodsboy  (Read 602 times)

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Can You Grow Better Bucks in Florida? by Bacwoodsboy
« on: March 03, 2013, 04:47:08 PM »
Let’s take a quick look at some of the deer harvested in Florida over the years. These examples are taken from the “Florida Buck Registry” website. Larry Furr 1/1/1977 Gadsden 168 1/8, Roy Ems 11/30/1983 Leon 165 2/8, William Scharber 1/1/1990 Pasco 162 4/8, Bobby Davis 1/14/1994 Dixie 159 4/8, Felton Sheffield 11/12/2003 Alachua 159, David McQueen 10/12/2008 ALACHUA 157, Chris Harrell 11/19/1987 Madison 156 7/8, Gary Leis 12/30/1987 Taylor 156 5/8, Ricky Richarte 11/15/1996 Madison 155 4/8, Gary Borland 11/25/2001 Martin 155 2/8, Clark Durrance 1/1/1940 Gadsden 201 3/8, Arthur Finkly 1/1/1948 Jefferson 196 5/8, Henry Brinson 1/1/1959 Jackson 186, Dennis Ross 1/1/1951 Taylor 185 3/8, W.L. Hurst 12/1/1970 Calhoun 181 2/8, Lee Crews 11/11/2000 Alachua 179, Patti Blichmann 1/1/2002 Leon 172 4/8, Tommy Sims 1/22/1994 Jackson 172, Robert Partin 11/25/2010 ALACHUA 170 6/8.

These examples show some of the quality deer taken in Florida over the years, and yes there are some 200 inch deer! So this proves that it is possible to grow a big deer in Florida and the southeast. Now don’t misunderstand me, I’m not saying that those guys are behind every tree! I feel like we should pursue the thought of improving on the average class of deer harvested, however the discussion is can we grow a better class of deer in Florida and the surrounding states. And the answer is yes! So what goes into growing a great buck in your neck of the woods?

There are four major factors that go into growing a quality buck

1. AGE:
This is a major factor in producing a great buck and is the easiest goal for you to obtain because you can choose to let a buck walk. Shooting a young buck is bad all the way around because a buck will not grow his best set of horns until he reaches 4 ½. The major issue we see is the “if I don’t shoot him, my neighbor will” mentality. Letting young bucks walk is the only way they will make it to the age to put on a great set of horns. No one can control a neighbor or anyone else who shoots young bucks, that is not for you to lose sleep over, because it is going to happen! So the first step is learning to let them grow and you will be well on your way to growing a great buck.

This is the fun topic, because most people think we just don’t have the “stuff”. The truth is that most deer have good enough genetics to grow a great set of horns throughout the whitetails range in North America, there are areas of the country that have better soils, habitat, and food sources. So the average caliber of buck is better, but I don’t think it is because the deer in the southeast can’t equal deer from other parts of the country. Most of this goes back to my first point “age”. Age and only age will show you the true potential of a buck. Most guys will see a cow horn spike and shoot him under the flag of culling out a poor deer. Be very careful of culling young bucks without really knowing what you are looking at. Many of these deer are considered flawed and because we have it in our mind that he just doesn’t have good genetics we shoot them. The truth is that it is almost impossible to tell on a free ranging deer whether or not the “flaw” is genetic or not. There are many factors that can effect a deer’s antler growth and development such as injury, lack of water, nutrition, and habitat. In my opinion any buck under three should be given a pass. You never know, you may be “culling” a future stud.

Nutrition can be made available to deer in different ways. Ag crops are great sources of food for bucks. We just don’t have it on the scale of the mid west, so in most cases we supplement with food plot programs. Food plots are a great way to give your deer quality year round food. Planting food plots benefit more than just bucks, it also helps does and fawns and reduces the stresses of over grazing native vegetation. My favorite part of deer management is planting plots and spending time in the woods in the off season. There is nothing better than getting out in that 100 degree heat and prepping areas for the upcoming season. There is however more to plotting than going out three weeks prior to bow season and hitting the ground with a disc and tossing out seed. You have to remember there is a purpose to planting plots and you will get out what you put in it. There are some things that need to be considered before starting a plot. What are you trying to achieve with the plot? Is it going to be a hunt plot or a plot to feed your deer year round? What is the difference? A hunting plot is usually a ¼ acre or smaller with good cover on the edges, and a feeding plot is larger and should be placed in an area that the deer will not be pressured. For further information on seed and site prep check The Whitetail Institute website as they will be a great help in selecting the right seed for your plot. That being said don’t forget about your properties native vegetation, you will see major improvements in your herd with some hard work to these areas.

Controlling your deer herd is another way to improve your chances of growing a great buck. Getting sex ratios in line will go along way in your overall management goals. Most of us have trail cameras that we put out to catch that big boy up and moving on the property. Cameras can be a great tool in managing your herd. I have mine out year round and log my pictures in a spread sheet with things such as fawn sightings, doe numbers, wind directions at the time they were in that area. This allows me to gauge the number of bucks that use the property, how old they are and how they enter plots or trails. I have already mentioned that I believe we can grow better bucks in Florida and the southeast, but to do so we must be willing to do all the little things. This is not a one size fits all approach to growing better bucks, but should lay the ground work for you to set up your little slice of heaven to produce great bucks year after year.



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