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% of old bucks that make BC....

Rous14

Active Member
Wondering what based on your guys experience over the years would you say the percentage of bucks that you typically have or know of on your farms that are 5 years old plus that end up being at or somewhere close to Boone.
The farm I have in west central IL (good soil, great habitat, food plots year round, river, etc...) that I’m going on our 4th season now has had one buck that I think was close to or at that level that we did not harvest. All four years though we’ve had and killed what I consider to be a fair number of 5+ old bucks. We’ve killed two 7.5yr olds, an 8.5 year old, a 6.5 yr old and two 4.5 year olds (we send all our bucks front teeth in for cementum annuli testing)
The biggest scoring wise was one of the 4.5 yr olds at like 158”
Not sure whether to be a little disappointed overall or not. Obviously we are blessed to be able to hunt old deer and I absolutely love it don’t get me wrong, but when you have land in premier areas of the country you hope to have a Booner roaming your ground occasionally.
Thoughts?
 

Daver

PMA Member
The oldest buck we ever got at our place, for sure at least 8, possibly 9, "only" scored a little over 160" as a clean 8 point. We were not disappointed though and still consider that buck to be the gold standard at our place in terms of trophy bucks taken. He was smart and big bodied, just a little more modest on the score of the antlers. We tried hard to get him for 3 or 4 years and it wasn't until his last year that we had any shot opportunities at him. But we knew via cams primarily that he was there consistently.

We have otherwise taken bucks up to just under 190" gross, and that one was a for sure a 5 year old...but he was stupid in comparison to one mentioned above. Either my son or I could have shot him about 15-20 times total in his 2nd through 4th years and my son got him the very first day we tried for him when he was 5. I passed him up at 4 yards when he was 4 and grossed in the 170's.

I am thinking of other bucks that we knew well that were at least 5 and their racks probably topped out in the 140's. Then again, there are the occasional freaks that get into the upper 170's and up.

So, in our experience, I would say this...% of all bucks present on a property in a given year that would make gross Boone (170") = 3-5%'ish. While present, they are still a rare bird. Percent of 5 year old's that would gross Boone = 25%'ish.
 

Rous14

Active Member
The oldest buck we ever got at our place, for sure at least 8, possibly 9, "only" scored a little over 160" as a clean 8 point. We were not disappointed though and still consider that buck to be the gold standard at our place in terms of trophy bucks taken. He was smart and big bodied, just a little more modest on the score of the antlers. We tried hard to get him for 3 or 4 years and it wasn't until his last year that we had any shot opportunities at him. But we knew via cams primarily that he was there consistently.

We have otherwise taken bucks up to just under 190" gross, and that one was a for sure a 5 year old...but he was stupid in comparison to one mentioned above. Either my son or I could have shot him about 15-20 times total in his 2nd through 4th years and my son got him the very first day we tried for him when he was 5. I passed him up at 4 yards when he was 4 and grossed in the 170's.

I am thinking of other bucks that we knew well that were at least 5 and their racks probably topped out in the 140's. Then again, there are the occasional freaks that get into the upper 170's and up.

So, in our experience, I would say this...% of all bucks present on a property in a given year that would make gross Boone (170") = 3-5%'ish. While present, they are still a rare bird. Percent of 5 year old's that would gross Boone = 25%'ish.
Interesting info, thanks.
A 160” 8 pt though is basically the same as a booner in my book. That’s a heck of an 8pt
If I were to guesstimate, and I’m not too far off here since it’s only been four years, I’ve had around 10-15 bucks in the first three seasons that I’m confident were 5 plus and only the one that I reference that had a chance to make Boone. Soo, your % is definitely significantly higher than mine which is really the ultimate question I’m after so thanks. Interested in what others would say too.
 

IowaBowHunter1983

Super Moderator
Staff member
I would say maybe 45%. Lil less than half. Gigantic and steep drop off in % when you get over 180 IMO. Goes down rapidly.
 

Sligh1

Administrator
Staff member
Good one!!!
I’m not reading other posts Til after - so doesn’t impact my guess ;)
I’m gonna guess 25-40%.
More than people think. A lot of folks think “way less” for 2 reasons, IMO…. 2-4 year old studs with premo genetics get targeted hard. Have to be in area where guys pass em or they slip by. Dumb young studs get slayed. So folks don’t see as many at 5+ that appear to be mammoths.
2nd….. I’ve seen a TON of bucks over the years “not be booners” or whatever at 5. Even 6. Whatever. The rare cases they make it- I’ve seen a lot of bucks make the jumps to be booners at 6, 7, 8, etc - that were not at 4 or 5 or even 6. Am I saying to pass a 5 or 6 year old? NO. Just talking about potential. I’ve seen some go downhill at 6 for example due to weather or “other reasons” & then blow back up at 7 for example. IMO- if u could let all bucks live to “10 years old” for example (natural lifespan) - I bet it might be close to 40-45% that hit the mark at some point in there. More bucks have potential to be giants than folks realize. & clearly if u have a 4-5 year old 8 that’s 130”…. Almost 0 chance he makes a change & jump to be a booner or high scoring giant.

clearly we next have issues of: social stress, not enough food, not best nutrition area, way overpopulated. So- that will make the # way way less if that happens. I’m talking about balanced areas like u described with great food, nutrition & cover.

****last side note…. Nutrition, deer #’s, age structure, food aside….. as if they were all equal…. I’ve seen “genetic pockets” where one area is awesome “forever” (as long as I’ve seen it) & other areas 10-20 miles away do not have the genetics & bucks just don’t get to be high scorers often. Seen it over & over & over. A lot to this & there’s lots of theories why but I absolutely believe this happens & ive seen it countless times. That’s my opinion & experience.
 

Rous14

Active Member
I would say maybe 45%. Lil less than half. Gigantic and steep drop off in % when you get over 180 IMO. Goes down rapidly.
Wow, 45% seems really good. I would be ecstatic with that type of result. Not questioning you at all. Definitely makes me start to question my farm a little bit though. I have definitely not been anywhere near that kind of figure.
 

Rous14

Active Member
Good one!!!
I’m not reading other posts Til after - so doesn’t impact my guess ;)
I’m gonna guess 30-40%.
More than people think. A lot of folks think “way less” for 2 reasons, IMO…. 2-4 year old studs with premo genetics get targeted hard. Have to be in area where guys pass em or they slip by. Dumb young studs get slayed. So folks don’t see as many at 5+ that appear to be mammoths.
2nd….. I’ve seen a TON of bucks over the years “not be booners” or whatever at 5. Even 6. Whatever. The rare cases they make it- I’ve seen a lot of bucks make the jumps to be booners at 6, 7, 8, etc - that were not at 4 or 5 or even 6. Am I saying to pass a 5 or 6 year old? NO. Just talking about potential. I’ve seen some go downhill at 6 for example due to weather or “other reasons” & then blow back up at 7 for example. IMO- if u could let all bucks live to “10 years old” for example (natural lifespan) - I bet it might be close to 40-45% that hit the mark at some point in there. More bucks have potential to be giants than folks realize. & clearly if u have a 4-5 year old 8 that’s 130”…. Almost 0 chance he makes a change & jump to be a booner or high scoring giant.

clearly we next have issues of: social stress, not enough food, not best nutrition area, way overpopulated. So- that will make the # way way less if that happens. I’m talking about balanced areas like u described with great food, nutrition & cover.
I’m starting to regret that I asked lol....I’m gonna have a for sale sign on my farm by tonight if you guys keep this up lol.
Not sure what to think. As I’ve said we have not had a problem getting a fair number of deer each year to 5+ which in most places in the country is step #1 that is the hardest. For whatever reason though I’m just not anywhere near what you guys are describing and I’m in a “good area”. Maybe an enlightening follow up question would be how many 5+ yr old bucks would you say you have on a year to year basis on your typical farm that let’s say is 250 acres surrounded by pretty good farms in 3 out of 4 directions. I’m gonna say that I’ve had around 3 each year conservatively.
 

Hardwood11

It is going to be a good fall!
Geez that is a good question? I am going to guess around 25% will be B&C (older bucks)...I might have to pay attention to that more. As mentioned earlier, a mature 8 point can be 155-160 and that is a true trophy!
 

Rous14

Active Member
Good one!!!
I’m not reading other posts Til after - so doesn’t impact my guess ;)
I’m gonna guess 25-40%.
More than people think. A lot of folks think “way less” for 2 reasons, IMO…. 2-4 year old studs with premo genetics get targeted hard. Have to be in area where guys pass em or they slip by. Dumb young studs get slayed. So folks don’t see as many at 5+ that appear to be mammoths.
2nd….. I’ve seen a TON of bucks over the years “not be booners” or whatever at 5. Even 6. Whatever. The rare cases they make it- I’ve seen a lot of bucks make the jumps to be booners at 6, 7, 8, etc - that were not at 4 or 5 or even 6. Am I saying to pass a 5 or 6 year old? NO. Just talking about potential. I’ve seen some go downhill at 6 for example due to weather or “other reasons” & then blow back up at 7 for example. IMO- if u could let all bucks live to “10 years old” for example (natural lifespan) - I bet it might be close to 40-45% that hit the mark at some point in there. More bucks have potential to be giants than folks realize. & clearly if u have a 4-5 year old 8 that’s 130”…. Almost 0 chance he makes a change & jump to be a booner or high scoring giant.

clearly we next have issues of: social stress, not enough food, not best nutrition area, way overpopulated. So- that will make the # way way less if that happens. I’m talking about balanced areas like u described with great food, nutrition & cover.

****last side note…. Nutrition, deer #’s, age structure, food aside….. as if they were all equal…. I’ve seen “genetic pockets” where one area is awesome “forever” (as long as I’ve seen it) & other areas 10-20 miles away do not have the genetics & bucks just don’t get to be high scorers often. Seen it over & over & over. A lot to this & there’s lots of theories why but I absolutely believe this happens & ive seen it countless times. That’s my opinion & experience.
Your very last “side note” is interesting Skip. Definitely seem to be pockets like you describe that just seem to produce consistently. Fascinating as to why or how that could be. Seems to defy logic. On the flip side I’ve often wondered for example like with Winkes old farm. There was a stretch there in 09-11ish (I could be off a little in years) where he had a sit where he encountered two bucks in the 190-200” range in the same sit, killed some absolute giants, found a mega giant dead the ehd year etc....BUT then it seemed like for about a 5 year stretch there post ehd where he just didn’t have any real giants and that’s on a 1000 acres in Iowa! His example is one reason why I’ve not ever really bought in to the theory of social stress and bigger bucks running around when the herd gets wiped out since the survivors have a surplus of food, no stress etc....
Just very interesting and fascinating stuff. At least to a deer hunting nerd like me! Lol
 

Sligh1

Administrator
Staff member
Your very last “side note” is interesting Skip. Definitely seem to be pockets like you describe that just seem to produce consistently. Fascinating as to why or how that could be. Seems to defy logic. On the flip side I’ve often wondered for example like with Winkes old farm. There was a stretch there in 09-11ish (I could be off a little in years) where he had a sit where he encountered two bucks in the 190-200” range in the same sit, killed some absolute giants, found a mega giant dead the ehd year etc....BUT then it seemed like for about a 5 year stretch there post ehd where he just didn’t have any real giants and that’s on a 1000 acres in Iowa! His example is one reason why I’ve not ever really bought in to the theory of social stress and bigger bucks running around when the herd gets wiped out since the survivors have a surplus of food, no stress etc....
Just very interesting and fascinating stuff. At least to a deer hunting nerd like me! Lol
Been all over Winke’s farm with him. IMO- the habitat & food needed a lot of work yet. Went over that with him…. At that point- I think his mind was on moving to NE iowa & selling the farm. Those last years maybe didn’t have the fired up passion to make it premo. Since winke is pretty public about his farm - this is probably pretty common knowledge. It could be great. Just needed someone with the fire & drive to do it.

Any big timber areas or massive pasture areas where deer run low on food & there isn’t abundant crops- those are areas im referring to where the deer are NOT going to reach potential unless there’s an immense change to plots, grains, browse & overall nutrition. The extreme example of this is like Northern MI or N WI…. The vast forest areas. There’s clearly no doubt that left “as is” those deer will not be as “giant” on average even with the age. We have the right recipe in iowa, MO, IL, OH, KS, IN, S MN, S WI, S MI, etc etc etc. clearly the problem over that vast premo area is: AGE.
 

IowaBowHunter1983

Super Moderator
Staff member
Maybe an enlightening follow up question would be how many 5+ yr old bucks would you say you have on a year to year basis on your typical farm that let’s say is 250 acres surrounded by pretty good farms in 3 out of 4 directions. I’m gonna say that I’ve had around 3 each year conservatively.
Not enough! Little bit of a strange dynamic in many parts of Iowa. Absolutely hammered by EHD in 2012. More in 2013. More in 2016. Hammered again in 2019. I've lost way more deer to EHD than hunters could dream of shooting. BUT, it has also helped keep the overall population in check. I think that is a GIGANTIC factor in having big deer. Less deer = Bigger deer.

One more thing.... not all deer should be let to grow old. If you have 120" 3 year old 8 point or 130" 4 year old 8... somebody's kid or someone should be shooting them. The deer that get to 5+ on me are usually (not always) pretty good.
 

Daver

PMA Member
Not enough! Little bit of a strange dynamic in many parts of Iowa. Absolutely hammered by EHD in 2012. More in 2013. More in 2016. Hammered again in 2019. I've lost way more deer to EHD than hunters could dream of shooting. BUT, it has also helped keep the overall population in check. I think that is a GIGANTIC factor in having big deer. Less deer = Bigger deer.

One more thing.... not all deer should be let to grow old. If you have 120" 3 year old 8 point or 130" 4 year old 8... somebody's kid or someone should be shooting them. The deer that get to 5+ on me are usually (not always) pretty good.
The bolded section above could/should be a separate thread/conversation. Speaking for my farm only...we have been pretty dialed in on not shooting ANY buck until they are 5. Granted, there have been 2-3 "violations" of this rule, but that is over 10+ years and many nice 4's have been given the pass, sometimes several passes, so probably 90% true. At any rate, very few "young" bucks have been taken at our place for quite awhile now. And I can easily think of a handful of bucks over those years that fit the bill as a "bully buck" that we let live on...when I now think we would have been better off knocking them out so other higher potential bucks could live on in peace.

I was already kind of pondering this shift, but your post reminds me of the situation. Looking at the first pics we are getting this year seems to indicate a number of 2 and 3 year old's that are probably "mediums" to "smalls" to the extent that you can project them. Hmmmm...
 

Sligh1

Administrator
Staff member
Fun example…. I’d bet a nickel this deer is B&C if he gets old. He’s baby & spindly. I’ve watched tons of deer like this go from young to mature. This one is not insane but a solid buck I’m almost certain will be B&C at some point. Lots like him all over. This is just a good generic example of a nice young deer that will be B&C D27A10ED-F21F-4FBF-8FA0-4ABC9AF809A2.jpeg
 
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Rous14

Active Member
Been all over Winke’s farm with him. IMO- the habitat & food needed a lot of work yet. Went over that with him…. At that point- I think his mind was on moving to NE iowa & selling the farm. Those last years maybe didn’t have the fired up passion to make it premo. Since winke is pretty public about his farm - this is probably pretty common knowledge. It could be great. Just needed someone with the fire & drive to do it.

Any big timber areas or massive pasture areas where deer run low on food & there isn’t abundant crops- those are areas im referring to where the deer are NOT going to reach potential unless there’s an immense change to plots, grains, browse & overall nutrition. The extreme example of this is like Northern MI or N WI…. The vast forest areas. There’s clearly no doubt that left “as is” those deer will not be as “giant” on average even with the age. We have the right recipe in iowa, MO, IL, OH, KS, IN, S MN, S WI, S MI, etc etc etc. clearly the problem over that vast premo area is: AGE.
But I can’t imagine his farm was measurably different or better habitat wise in that stretch he had mega giants everywhere than it was those last 6-7 years though right? So it should be relative. He had a long stretch there where the deer numbers were lower than they had been and yet he still didn’t have the top end bucks. And you’ve walked his farm I haven’t so I’ll defer to you but I still think that if a guy has a 1000acres Like his in the state of Iowa then you’re gonna have some booners every year with out touching it imo. I mean the number of landowners back in the mid 2000s that were doing the kind of habitat projects and food plots was a fraction of what it is today and IL and Iowa were killing tons of giant bucks back then. Maybe even more?
 

Rous14

Active Member
The bolded section above could/should be a separate thread/conversation. Speaking for my farm only...we have been pretty dialed in on not shooting ANY buck until they are 5. Granted, there have been 2-3 "violations" of this rule, but that is over 10+ years and many nice 4's have been given the pass, sometimes several passes, so probably 90% true. At any rate, very few "young" bucks have been taken at our place for quite awhile now. And I can easily think of a handful of bucks over those years that fit the bill as a "bully buck" that we let live on...when I now think we would have been better off knocking them out so other higher potential bucks could live on in peace.

I was already kind of pondering this shift, but your post reminds me of the situation. Looking at the first pics we are getting this year seems to indicate a number of 2 and 3 year old's that are probably "mediums" to "smalls" to the extent that you can project them. Hmmmm...
Agree with his bolder statement too. Fact Don Higgins recently talked about how he does this pretty aggressively on his farm and he took some flack because people thought he was trying to say that he could impact the genetics on his farm when he wasn’t saying that at all. He was just saying that he believes any given farm will only hold so many mature bucks (the bucks won’t tolerate each other etc....) and that by shooting the bucks like IBH describes above he was controlling which bucks made it to 5 and they would have better chance of staying on his farm. Makes a lot of sense to me.
 

Rous14

Active Member
Not enough! Little bit of a strange dynamic in many parts of Iowa. Absolutely hammered by EHD in 2012. More in 2013. More in 2016. Hammered again in 2019. I've lost way more deer to EHD than hunters could dream of shooting. BUT, it has also helped keep the overall population in check. I think that is a GIGANTIC factor in having big deer. Less deer = Bigger deer.

One more thing.... not all deer should be let to grow old. If you have 120" 3 year old 8 point or 130" 4 year old 8... somebody's kid or someone should be shooting them. The deer that get to 5+ on me are usually (not always) pretty good.
I definitely agree w your last statement as I posted above. But I have to admit that your thoughts on the less deer equals bigger deer is a concept I’ve wrestled with and don’t know that I’m in agreement. You could certainly be right, just a couple of fanatics talkin deer here but some thoughts to support my stance that I’m curious what you think.....
1- the winke farm that I’ve already made a few posts on. Very small sample size so certainly anecdotal I’ll admit.
2- In IL we had never killed more booners on an annual basis than we were in the mid to late 2000s when the deer herd had never been bigger in terms of numbers. By what metric was the deer herd at its all time high “struggling” or experiencing “stress” during that phenomenal 6-9 year stretch? Booners galore. More 200 inches than ever. Deer everywhere. Clearly the habitat could sustain them or those things could not exist imo. It was the farmers, insurance companies, motorists, etc... that couldn’t tolerate or sustain the herd level like that, NOT the habitat imo.
3- This one again is fairly anecdotal but I’ve watched a ton of hunting shows over the years. I swear the Lakoskys have 10 different bucks and 20 does in the field almost every single time you see them shooting a giant. You never see that on any other show and yet they’re killing bigger bucks than any of them by far. (I realize they are unique in how much ground they control, how much food they leave standing etc... but if less deer equaled bigger deer than that would still apply to them)

I just think that in the top soil, mild winter, premium genetics states like IA, IL, OH, etc....that the more bucks you have at the top of the funnel (1-2 year olds) the more booners you’ll have because of the 40% statistic you threw out earlier. Only way to have more 1-2 year olds is to have more deer. The buck to doe ratio needs to and can stay good even with larger numbers.

Just my two cents!
 
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IowaBowHunter1983

Super Moderator
Staff member
I definitely agree w your last statement as I posted above. But I have to admit that your thoughts on the less deer equals bigger deer is a concept I’ve wrestled with and don’t know that I’m in agreement. You could certainly be right, just a couple of fanatics talkin deer here but some thoughts to support my stance that I’m curious what you think.....
1- the winke farm that I’ve already made a few posts on. Very small sample size so certainly anecdotal I’ll admit.
2- In IL we had never killed more booners on an annual basis than we were in the mid to late 2000s when the deer herd had never been bigger in terms of numbers. By what metric was the deer herd at its all time high “struggling” or experiencing “stress” during that phenomenal 6-9 year stretch? Booners galore. More 200 inches than ever. Deer everywhere. Clearly the habitat could sustain them or those things could not exist imo. It was the farmers, insurance companies, motorists, etc... that couldn’t tolerate or sustain the herd level like that, NOT the habitat imo.
3- This one again is fairly anecdotal but I’ve watched a ton of hunting shows over the years. I swear the Lakoskys have 10 different bucks and 20 does in the field almost every single time you see them shooting a giant. You never see that on any other show and yet they’re killing bigger bucks than any of them by far. (I realize they are unique in how much ground they control, how much food they leave standing etc... but if less deer equaled bigger deer than that would still apply to them)

I just think that in the top soil, mild winter, premium genetics states like IA, IL, OH, etc....that the more bucks you have at the top of the funnel (1-2 year olds) the more booners you’ll have because of the 40% statistic you threw out earlier. Only way to have more 1-2 year olds is to have more deer. The buck to doe ratio needs to and can stay good even with larger numbers.

Just my two cents!
I’m a pretty firm believer in the social stress aspect of growing the biggest deer possible. I think there is a lot to support this including from those that raise deer for a living (I wish that “industry” would go away, but they do have some valuable insight from time to time).

In parts of Iowa, much of Illinois, etc it usually isn’t so much a question of the carrying capacity of the land so much as it is a question of what is the BEST environment to grow the biggest deer possible. I am going to assume you are in the Pike county area of Illinois…. Fascinating case study for another day…..

Your experience ~15 years ago…. surely a numbers game as you have laid out. I understand that argument. NOW…. What would have that looked like with LESS deer during that time period? I hypothesize even better on the top end and a higher percentage of the deer B&C and above. For conversation sake if the goal is to maximize the sure number of B&C bucks, I think you may be right. . A case of having more balls in the hopper to draw from out of your deer herd if you will. (More numbers the better, up to the carrying capacity of the land).

If that goal gets tweaked ever so slightly to maximize the high end above and beyond B&C and increase % of BC, I’m still sticking with the less deer is better argument

Less deer=higher % of old deer in B&C & above and higher top end. More deer=more B&C bucks (by numbers)= lower % of older deer that are B&C. Small nuance there and I hope I am articulating it well enough.

I could be totally wrong about this, but the is my anecdotal experience/opinion.

Love the conversation!
 

Rous14

Active Member
I’m a pretty firm believer in the social stress aspect of growing the biggest deer possible. I think there is a lot to support this including from those that raise deer for a living (I wish that “industry” would go away, but they do have some valuable insight from time to time).

In parts of Iowa, much of Illinois, etc it usually isn’t so much a question of the carrying capacity of the land so much as it is a question of what is the BEST environment to grow the biggest deer possible. I am going to assume you are in the Pike county area of Illinois…. Fascinating case study for another day…..

Your experience ~15 years ago…. surely a numbers game as you have laid out. I understand that argument. NOW…. What would have that looked like with LESS deer during that time period? I hypothesize even better on the top end and a higher percentage of the deer B&C and above. For conversation sake if the goal is to maximize the sure number of B&C bucks, I think you may be right. . A case of having more balls in the hopper to draw from out of your deer herd if you will. (More numbers the better, up to the carrying capacity of the land).

If that goal gets tweaked ever so slightly to maximize the high end above and beyond B&C and increase % of BC, I’m still sticking with the less deer is better argument

Less deer=higher % of old deer in B&C & above and higher top end. More deer=more B&C bucks (by numbers)= lower % of older deer that are B&C. Small nuance there and I hope I am articulating it well enough.

I could be totally wrong about this, but the is my anecdotal experience/opinion.

Love the conversation!
Definitely love the conversation too and yes you articulated it very well. Good point regarding the captive herds too. I’m several counties north of pike and the once famed golden triangle. Have never hunted pike but have heard tons of stories of what it was like back in the “glory” days.
I don’t have any statistical evidence to prove this but when you talk about hypothesizing what it would have been like with fewer deer.....well that’s exactly what we’ve had for the last 7-8 years so I don’t think we have to hypothesize at all. The numbers in Pike (and most of IL for that matter) are significantly lower and yet I don’t believe that there’s been any evidence that the bucks in pike that are 5+ in age are suddenly scoring higher on average. Certainly the number of booners and 200” that are being harvested is waaayyy down compared to when herd levels were at all time highs. So even if I had to trade off a handful of inches for a significant increase in the sheer numbers of BC animals I would do that in a heartbeat personally.
Then again you’re talking to a bum that’s never killed a Booner so maybe others would prefer more of a scenario that you’re describing
 

Daver

PMA Member
But I can’t imagine his farm was measurably different or better habitat wise in that stretch he had mega giants everywhere than it was those last 6-7 years though right? So it should be relative. He had a long stretch there where the deer numbers were lower than they had been and yet he still didn’t have the top end bucks. And you’ve walked his farm I haven’t so I’ll defer to you but I still think that if a guy has a 1000acres Like his in the state of Iowa then you’re gonna have some booners every year with out touching it imo. I mean the number of landowners back in the mid 2000s that were doing the kind of habitat projects and food plots was a fraction of what it is today and IL and Iowa were killing tons of giant bucks back then. Maybe even more?
I don't have any first hand experience on what was the Winke farm, but I did watch an awful lot of his content through the years and feel like I did gain some understanding through that. IMO, the big wild card on his farm was the severe EHD kills that he experienced. Prior to that he always seemed to have 12-20 bucks that were fully mature and usually 1-4 of them also had giant, world class racks. EHD came close to wiping the slate clean there and for several years following the pickings were slim in terms of mature bucks, relatively speaking of course.

I am very, very fortunate to not have experienced significant EHD at my place, but I know a number of people who have over the past 10 years or so and it was a real game changer for them...as in suddenly there are NO mature bucks alive on their place, or just 1 or 2. Yikes. Then...it takes 3-4+ years to get back to normal and hopefully you don't have another wave of EHD.
 

Daver

PMA Member
Agree with his bolder statement too. Fact Don Higgins recently talked about how he does this pretty aggressively on his farm and he took some flack because people thought he was trying to say that he could impact the genetics on his farm when he wasn’t saying that at all. He was just saying that he believes any given farm will only hold so many mature bucks (the bucks won’t tolerate each other etc....) and that by shooting the bucks like IBH describes above he was controlling which bucks made it to 5 and they would have better chance of staying on his farm. Makes a lot of sense to me.
Makes sense to me too. I think Don Higgins is one of the few truly no BS, really understands things correctly people out there. So many others are bent towards pimping products and their advice can't be taken fully at face value consequently...IMO. In fact, it was his recent podcast on this subject that switched my thinking.
 
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