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% of old bucks that make BC....

Sligh1

Administrator
Staff 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’ll bring this back to my mind-set when I was a 16-25 year old “dreamer”. Me & bros would drool over owning a big farm. Farms we knew of (in IA, KS, IL, etc) …. We said THIS STATEMENT a million times…. “If we owned a 640 here, bet we’d have a couple booners every year!!!!!” Or some version of that statement “if we could control that XYZ farm- bet we’d have 200’s”. We looked at certain farms or certain areas as if the grass was so GREEN that it just couldn’t get any greener.
well….. long story short….. many of those farms - for one reason or another we got access to them. Or became friends with the owners or helped them on those farms. Been on, hunted, owned, managed, watched - countless farms that fit that scenario of “that farm will produce mammoths!!!!” …. I’m telling folks- I WAS WRONG in my dreamer thinking. There’s just far more to it than folks can wrap their heads around…. I’ll give u a few examples…..

Big timber areas that are like Winke’s. Many areas like that maybe have TSI or logging done. That is huge for nutrition. But if no one keeps up with it & deer #’s get too high- wipe out fast & back to square one. EHD is a component but not what it hinges on. Areas like that might have any little rough crop ground enrolled into CRP & all the sudden the amount of crop ground is actually not great. Small plots that get wiped out. Natural browse is hammered. You are NOT going to have many giants consistently when that happens. There’s swings in there from: EHD, logging/TSI, shooting a pile of does, etc.

Another example is a big state park with no hunting ….. let’s say a “750 acre park, NO HUNTING”…. We all think “booners/giants all over”. Right? Deer are able to get to maturity. 95% of cases, IMO…. Over browsed timber. Not high nutrition. Lacking crops & diverse plots. Too many deer. No bully bucks or management bucks being shot. You get a few mammoths on average. MOST of those places are not near their potential and don’t kick out giants like folks think. Clearly there’s exceptions but those scenarios are not “premo” for giants IMO.

Here’s one…. Rich guy throws $ at a “big farm”…. 500-1000 - whatever….. I’ve seen this over & over…. Plots don’t get done right. Deer don’t get managed right. Timber doesn’t get managed at all or it’s not done right. Bully/management bucks & does are not shot correctly. Often several “oops” deer are shot. Turns out mediocre MOST the time unless the owner is intensely involved & a massive amount of work is done & kept up on. Countless folks in Midwest in countless states & areas I know that have been “frustrated or disappointed” with results on a premo farm. Way harder than anyone thinks.

AVERAGE SCENARIO that’s BEST, IMO…. (Of a more ideal & realistic situation - still rare but doable)…. Giant section…. Couple thousand acres. Giant timber in it. Brush, crp & nasty thick cover. Plenty of crops & alfalfa, plots, etc! One “old lady” that owns a chunk & doesn’t allow hunting. Other owners that limit things & don’t shoot young deer. Plenty does are killed. Plots & TSI done. Little to no poaching. Folks work together to kill the 4 year old 125” 8’s & pass the 165” 4 year olds. It takes some cooperation between neighbors. Now THAT is a fairly common example of a place that “regularly” has some giant deer.
My 2 cents. ;)
 

Bassattackr

Active Member
I'd say a solid 20%-25% would or could hit 160" at age 6 around me.. Maybe even more. More than you think IMO. We recently had a 171" 6 yr and a 165" 5 yr shot by my 2 neighbors in past couple of years. Not too many make it beyond 3 around me (Central MO). By far and large most "great" 2 yr and majority of 3 yr get shot around me. TONS of great 2 yr 120"+ with potential that never make it beyond that. The ones that make it to 5+ are every bit of 150" it seems, most of our 4 yr are in the 140" range.

Tons of crops, cover, good habitat around here. Age just seems to be the limiting factor. We are 50/50 ag/timber around here, not the 75%+ open ag that northern MO has.
 

MN Slick

PMA Member
Great conversation. You may want to check out the book Strategic Harvest System: How to Break Through the Buck Management Glass Ceiling by the guys from Mississippi State University, one of whom, Dr. Bronson Strickland, was on Don Higgins podcast last week. In short, approximately 1/3 of bucks in a population are genetically predisposed to have below average antlers, 1/3 average, and 1/3 above average. The key is to let the top 1/3 reach maturity while taking out the lower 2/3 as soon as you determine they are in the lower 2/3. Easier said than done!

Obviously, as many above have said, the top 1/3 of bucks are big at 3 and 4 years of age and in most areas are the first to get shot while the lower 2/3 live on. I hunt in North MO where it really comes down to buck numbers and luck. There are enough bucks available that some get old enough but it’s pure luck if the right ones get old enough.

In my opinion it would be very difficult to manage a big farm properly. #1 I’m too cheap to plant enough food, LOL! #2 It would be hard to shoot enough management bucks and does each year to properly manage it.
 

Rous14

Active Member
I’ll bring this back to my mind-set when I was a 16-25 year old “dreamer”. Me & bros would drool over owning a big farm. Farms we knew of (in IA, KS, IL, etc) …. We said THIS STATEMENT a million times…. “If we owned a 640 here, bet we’d have a couple booners every year!!!!!” Or some version of that statement “if we could control that XYZ farm- bet we’d have 200’s”. We looked at certain farms or certain areas as if the grass was so GREEN that it just couldn’t get any greener.
well….. long story short….. many of those farms - for one reason or another we got access to them. Or became friends with the owners or helped them on those farms. Been on, hunted, owned, managed, watched - countless farms that fit that scenario of “that farm will produce mammoths!!!!” …. I’m telling folks- I WAS WRONG in my dreamer thinking. There’s just far more to it than folks can wrap their heads around…. I’ll give u a few examples…..

Big timber areas that are like Winke’s. Many areas like that maybe have TSI or logging done. That is huge for nutrition. But if no one keeps up with it & deer #’s get too high- wipe out fast & back to square one. EHD is a component but not what it hinges on. Areas like that might have any little rough crop ground enrolled into CRP & all the sudden the amount of crop ground is actually not great. Small plots that get wiped out. Natural browse is hammered. You are NOT going to have many giants consistently when that happens. There’s swings in there from: EHD, logging/TSI, shooting a pile of does, etc.

Another example is a big state park with no hunting ….. let’s say a “750 acre park, NO HUNTING”…. We all think “booners/giants all over”. Right? Deer are able to get to maturity. 95% of cases, IMO…. Over browsed timber. Not high nutrition. Lacking crops & diverse plots. Too many deer. No bully bucks or management bucks being shot. You get a few mammoths on average. MOST of those places are not near their potential and don’t kick out giants like folks think. Clearly there’s exceptions but those scenarios are not “premo” for giants IMO.

Here’s one…. Rich guy throws $ at a “big farm”…. 500-1000 - whatever….. I’ve seen this over & over…. Plots don’t get done right. Deer don’t get managed right. Timber doesn’t get managed at all or it’s not done right. Bully/management bucks & does are not shot correctly. Often several “oops” deer are shot. Turns out mediocre MOST the time unless the owner is intensely involved & a massive amount of work is done & kept up on. Countless folks in Midwest in countless states & areas I know that have been “frustrated or disappointed” with results on a premo farm. Way harder than anyone thinks.

AVERAGE SCENARIO that’s BEST, IMO…. (Of a more ideal & realistic situation - still rare but doable)…. Giant section…. Couple thousand acres. Giant timber in it. Brush, crp & nasty thick cover. Plenty of crops & alfalfa, plots, etc! One “old lady” that owns a chunk & doesn’t allow hunting. Other owners that limit things & don’t shoot young deer. Plenty does are killed. Plots & TSI done. Little to no poaching. Folks work together to kill the 4 year old 125” 8’s & pass the 165” 4 year olds. It takes some cooperation between neighbors. Now THAT is a fairly common example of a place that “regularly” has some giant deer.
My 2 cents. ;)
Lots of great conversation going on that gets the wheels turnin, love it! I used to be that same 16-25yr old Skip. Then as I got in to my 20s I started hunting Illinois annually, hunted Iowa a couple times and then by time I was in early 40s was blessed enough to realize my dream of owning my own farm for the last decade.

As I mentioned previously, I’ve never killed a Booner and can honestly say that in all those years hunting in great areas I’ve laid my eyes on maybe 3-4 Boone and Crockett animals from a tree stand. So 1) I clearly suck as a big buck hunter lol but 2) to your point I absolutely agree w you and realize how hard it is to find one/develop what it takes to increase the likelihood. Frankly that’s why I’ve been a little surprised at the 25-40% numbers that guys have talked about in this post.

That’s not been my experience but if true that’s the main reason why I say or at least think that on a farm like Winkes, with zero management of the habitat, there’s still going to be what 10, probably 20 mature deer on and off that farm in a fall? So we will use the lower range of number of booners since it’s not being managed well at 20%. That’s still 2-4 booners with out touching the habitat. Places like Iowa and Illinois, for the most part, have what a deer need to reach Booner status as long as they reach maturity with out us habitat freaks touching anything. Just my opinion. Where I hunt in southern Michigan the genetics are exceptional. The 2 and 3 yr old deer that get killed rival the 2-3 yr old deer in IL with no doubt in my mind. And yet I don’t think I know of a farm or landowner in the area that does food plots, tsi, etc....I’m sure there are a few but it’s just not all that common because I think folks know the buck has almost no chance of reaching 5 years of age.

Another example of that would be IL from 2002-2012. There were a TON of big bucks roaming around during that stretch in a high percentage of the counties. When you stop to think about what % of the land was actually being managed like you reference above it was and still is minuscule. How many landowners were doing food plots in Pike county in 2005 much less all of the other high level management stuff you reference above? 5% of them maybe? And yet they were cranking out booners at an almost unprecedented level before or since. Assuming the genetics are there, age will always be the most important imo. Habitat improvement 100% helps and makes a difference but sometimes I wonder if it’s moving the needle quite as far as us freaks want to think it is.

Out of curiosity, What are your thoughts as to why Winke had a stretch where he had monster bucks and then went an equally long stretch where he didn’t? EHD I presume? I just always thought that was the oddest and very fascinating part of following him for so long.
 
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Sligh1

Administrator
Staff member
Lots of great conversation going on that gets the wheels turnin, love it! I used to be that same 16-25yr old Skip. Then as I got in to my 20s I started hunting Illinois annually, hunted Iowa a couple times and then by time I was in early 40s was blessed enough to realize my dream of owning my own farm for the last decade.

As I mentioned previously, I’ve never killed a Booner and can honestly say that in all those years hunting in great areas I’ve laid my eyes on maybe 3-4 Boone and Crockett animals from a tree stand. So 1) I clearly suck as a big buck hunter lol but 2) to your point I absolutely agree w you and realize how hard it is to find one/develop what it takes to increase the likelihood. Frankly that’s why I’ve been a little surprised at the 25-40% numbers that guys have talked about in this post.

That’s not been my experience but if true that’s the main reason why I say or at least think that on a farm like Winkes, with zero management of the habitat, there’s still going to be what 10, probably 20 mature deer on and off that farm in a fall? So we will use the lower range of number of booners since it’s not being managed well at 20%. That’s still 2-4 booners with out touching the habitat. Places like Iowa and Illinois, for the most part, have what a deer need to reach Booner status as long as they reach maturity with out us habitat freaks touching anything. Just my opinion.

Another example of that would be IL from 2002-2012. There were a TON of big bucks roaming around during that stretch in a high percentage of the counties. When you stop to think about what % of the land was actually being managed like you reference above it was and still is minuscule. How many landowners were doing food plots in Pike county in 2005 much less all of the other high level management stuff you reference above? 5% of them maybe? And yet they were cranking out booners at an almost unprecedented level before or since.

Out of curiosity, What are your thoughts as to why Winke had a stretch where he had monster bucks and then went an equally long stretch where he didn’t? EHD I presume? I just always thought that was the oddest and very fascinating part of following him for so long.
I’d say 6-8 Mature bucks on Winke’s if I had to guess. With that situation…. My GUESS is, on average, ONE or TWO are booners. Or none some years - ZERO.
ive seen a ton of farms with ZERO. Big farms. Then it goes back to: management, food/nutrition, crops, genetics, neighbor situation, etc. Or the vast areas where the 2-4 year old studs get killed.
but yes, full circle to areas with premium mix of cover & food…. Managed right or where “all bucks” can magically get to maturity…. 25%+. It’s just that most those places (90%+ across Midwest IMO) - those bucks don’t get to maturity. They get killed.
I know a lot of folks in IOWA hunting “good areas” that haven’t shot a 150” deer. I think the vast majority have not shot a booner, IMO. I’d guess 75% plus have never shot one. It’s just hard. So much complexity to the issue. & then when u find the right ground with right management - you still have to get 25 yards away and make the right shot to make it happen with a bow. So complex. So hard. The sooner a young hunter realizes it’s very difficult to shoot a mammoth, probably better for expectations. I don’t want folks to “quit dreaming” like I used to do myself but the stone cold reality is- it’s really hard.
 

Daver

PMA Member
Great conversation. You may want to check out the book Strategic Harvest System: How to Break Through the Buck Management Glass Ceiling by the guys from Mississippi State University, one of whom, Dr. Bronson Strickland, was on Don Higgins podcast last week. In short, approximately 1/3 of bucks in a population are genetically predisposed to have below average antlers, 1/3 average, and 1/3 above average. The key is to let the top 1/3 reach maturity while taking out the lower 2/3 as soon as you determine they are in the lower 2/3. Easier said than done!

Obviously, as many above have said, the top 1/3 of bucks are big at 3 and 4 years of age and in most areas are the first to get shot while the lower 2/3 live on. I hunt in North MO where it really comes down to buck numbers and luck. There are enough bucks available that some get old enough but it’s pure luck if the right ones get old enough.

In my opinion it would be very difficult to manage a big farm properly. #1 I’m too cheap to plant enough food, LOL! #2 It would be hard to shoot enough management bucks and does each year to properly manage it.
Yes, very interesting convo going on here. To the point that it is easier said than done to take out the "smalls" and "mediums" once they can be identified...I was talking to my son last night about this very subject and telling him of my "shift" in thinking...that we need to take out 3's and 4's that are probably destined to be 140's, etc, when they are 3's and 4's, not 5's and 6's.

He reminded me that the rack size has no relationship to the relative intelligence or killability of a given buck, so it is one thing to purpose to take out the management bucks and yet another to be able to accomplish it. I think he is right. Some of the notable management bucks on our farm over the years are virtual ghosts and were it not for trail cam pics, I don't know if we would even know that they are there that much, etc. Hmmm...I can see the logic here, but I am curious if we can accomplish the task. We'll see...season is coming up soon!
 

MN Slick

PMA Member
Yes, very interesting convo going on here. To the point that it is easier said than done to take out the "smalls" and "mediums" once they can be identified...I was talking to my son last night about this very subject and telling him of my "shift" in thinking...that we need to take out 3's and 4's that are probably destined to be 140's, etc, when they are 3's and 4's, not 5's and 6's.

He reminded me that the rack size has no relationship to the relative intelligence or killability of a given buck, so it is one thing to purpose to take out the management bucks and yet another to be able to accomplish it. I think he is right. Some of the notable management bucks on our farm over the years are virtual ghosts and were it not for trail cam pics, I don't know if we would even know that they are there that much, etc. Hmmm...I can see the logic here, but I am curious if we can accomplish the task. We'll see...season is coming up soon!

Good luck! The good news for you Iowa landowners is you can take 3 bucks per year allowing you to hang a tag or two on "cull" bucks and still have one for a giant.
 

Rous14

Active Member
I’d say 6-8 Mature bucks on Winke’s if I had to guess. With that situation…. My GUESS is, on average, ONE or TWO are booners. Or none some years - ZERO.
ive seen a ton of farms with ZERO. Big farms. Then it goes back to: management, food/nutrition, crops, genetics, neighbor situation, etc. Or the vast areas where the 2-4 year old studs get killed.
but yes, full circle to areas with premium mix of cover & food…. Managed right or where “all bucks” can magically get to maturity…. 25%+. It’s just that most those places (90%+ across Midwest IMO) - those bucks don’t get to maturity. They get killed.
I know a lot of folks in IOWA hunting “good areas” that haven’t shot a 150” deer. I think the vast majority have not shot a booner, IMO. I’d guess 75% plus have never shot one. It’s just hard. So much complexity to the issue. & then when u find the right ground with right management - you still have to get 25 yards away and make the right shot to make it happen with a bow. So complex. So hard. The sooner a young hunter realizes it’s very difficult to shoot a mammoth, probably better for expectations. I don’t want folks to “quit dreaming” like I used to do myself but the stone cold reality is- it’s really hard.
Definitely hard. But also one of the many things that drive us all to chase it as hard as we do! And your last paragraph is good stuff....makes me feel a little better about my lack of “success”. Maybe I’m only a 9 on the suck level instead of the 10 like I’ve been thinking lol! The one Booner I had on my farm that I mentioned gave me a close call in October that year but didn’t quite come close enough for a shot. 3 weeks later in mid November he comes straight to me but to my disbelief he had completely broken off one side of his rack. Couldn’t believe my luck. Of course I didn’t shoot him and the following year he never showed up, who knows what happened to him.
 

IowaBowHunter1983

Super Moderator
Staff member
He reminded me that the rack size has no relationship to the relative intelligence or killability of a given buck,
One might say that might emphasize the importance of killing them before they get to 5,6,7. They get SOOOO smart. A 3 year old isn't too tough to kill IMO. Each year they get smarter to a point and by middle age for a whitetail they are incredibly smart. I think its a very safe bet to say a 4 year old in the 130s or 140's probably isnt getting there if you want to shoot booners. And I am certainly not suggesting it should be everyone's goal to shoot booners. It's just not practical in most cases.
 

Daver

PMA Member
One might say that might emphasize the importance of killing them before they get to 5,6,7. They get SOOOO smart. A 3 year old isn't too tough to kill IMO. Each year they get smarter to a point and by middle age for a whitetail they are incredibly smart. I think its a very safe bet to say a 4 year old in the 130s or 140's probably isnt getting there if you want to shoot booners. And I am certainly not suggesting it should be everyone's goal to shoot booners. It's just not practical in most cases.
Agreed...the shift in thinking for us needs to be to more accurately identify 3's and 4's that aren't likely to blow up and get them then. In general, they are definitely more vulnerable at those younger ages...BUT...I can think of one notable exception that we passed once as a 3 year old and then never had another shot at him until he was 8, possibly 9. But that isn't the norm.
 

Obsessed

Well-Known 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."

>=25% is WAY too high imo. That's saying that if 4 bucks live to the age of 5 years old; 1 or 2 of them will be B&C bucks. No matter where. No matter what. This puts too much emphasis on age alone.

Visit a remote village in China and tell me how many people you find that are 6 feet tall or taller. It won't be anywhere close to 25%. If the genetics aren't in an area, it will be a rarity to see a specific genetic trait. It won't matter how much or how well they eat, or how low their stress levels are either.

I have no doubt there are pockets where >=25% is probably true, but it's due mostly to a strong pool of good B&C genetics within that region. Naturally or by selective hunting and farming practices.

Just my 2cents.
 

Daver

PMA 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."

>=25% is WAY too high imo. That's saying that if 4 bucks live to the age of 5 years old; 1 or 2 of them will be B&C bucks. No matter where. No matter what. This puts too much emphasis on age alone.

Visit a remote village in China and tell me how many people you find that are 6 feet tall or taller. It won't be anywhere close to 25%. If the genetics aren't in an area, it will be a rarity to see a specific genetic trait. It won't matter how much or how well they eat, or how low their stress levels are either.

I have no doubt there are pockets where >=25% is probably true, but it's due mostly to a strong pool of good B&C genetics within that region. Naturally or by selective hunting and farming practices.

Just my 2cents.
Results may vary from place to place of course, but my interpretation of 25% would be 1 in 4 and if the standard is gross Boone, or close to it, then I feel pretty solid saying that, on average, roughly 1 out of 4 bucks aged 5 and above would be at, or very near, Boone.
 

IowaBowHunter1983

Super Moderator
Staff 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."

>=25% is WAY too high imo. That's saying that if 4 bucks live to the age of 5 years old; 1 or 2 of them will be B&C bucks. No matter where. No matter what. This puts too much emphasis on age alone.

Visit a remote village in China and tell me how many people you find that are 6 feet tall or taller. It won't be anywhere close to 25%. If the genetics aren't in an area, it will be a rarity to see a specific genetic trait. It won't matter how much or how well they eat, or how low their stress levels are either.

I have no doubt there are pockets where >=25% is probably true, but it's due mostly to a strong pool of good B&C genetics within that region. Naturally or by selective hunting and farming practices.

Just my 2cents.
To be fair, OP asked about individual experiences on individuals farms, not bucks all over the place. If we are looking at bucks throughout their range I would change my answer to 5% or less.
 

Bassattackr

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."

>=25% is WAY too high imo. That's saying that if 4 bucks live to the age of 5 years old; 1 or 2 of them will be B&C bucks.

Visit a remote village in China and tell me how many people you find that are 6 feet tall or taller. It won't be anywhere close to 25%. If the genetics aren't in an area, it will be a rarity to see a specific genetic trait. It won't matter how much or how well they eat, or how low their stress levels are either.

1 in 4 = 25% 2 = 50%. No comparison.. My point was 1 in 4 (25%) going to B&C is about right for my area, 50% is definitely high. We just don't have that many that make it to that age. But of the ones that have, yes many do...

The remote China village is not even a close comparison. You can't argue about genetics if they're never exposed to begin with. Most in the remote village make it to maturity. Not many bucks do, so not something you can compare. Really have no way of telling..
 

Bassattackr

Active Member
Results may vary from place to place of course, but my interpretation of 25% would be 1 in 4 and if the standard is gross Boone, or close to it, then I feel pretty solid saying that, on average, roughly 1 out of 4 bucks aged 5 and above would be at, or very near, Boone.

Agree 100%.
 

Wi transplant

PMA Member
Are we talking just grossing over 170? Or the 195 mark also for nt? Im thinking under 15 pct just dont see that many getting that big?? I drive around alot and my job is driving all over se iowa every day i just dont get eyes on that many over 170 my 2 cents

Sent from my SM-G973U using Tapatalk
 

Rous14

Active Member
Are we talking just grossing over 170? Or the 195 mark also for nt? Im thinking under 15 pct just dont see that many getting that big?? I drive around alot and my job is driving all over se iowa every day i just dont get eyes on that many over 170 my 2 cents

Sent from my SM-G973U using Tapatalk
Gross 170 or bigger
 

Obsessed

Well-Known Member
If 170" or bigger is where we're setting the minimum B&C mark we're all talking about, either most of the bucks I've encountered are younger than 5 or the gene pool is shallow. The former may be true, but I don't think the latter is. I'm a central and southern Iowa hunter for 30+ years, so the genetics aren't a problem, and I encounter B&C bucks. I still say >=25% is a high figure, but I've got no way to or the desire to invest the time to prove it. Maybe, but I still think it's quite a bit lower %.
 
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