Amazing animal. Honest question here, so please don’t take it as a slight. Have y’all done nothing more than selective harvests and supplemental feeding? In other words, was it just god’s country and y’all just provide groceries and let them get old? Or are there other things you had to do to get where you are?
Much respect for the discipline it takes to get where y’all are. Hope he puts on 20 more inches next year.
No offense taken. Multiple things IMO. Next season will be my 14th year on the lease so we obviously have a great relationship with the LO and long term lease agreements. The LO and our members are all on the same page when it comes to management.
Yes we feed protein, cottonseed, and corn and we are obviously very patient and selective in the deer we take. Does not mean there have been a few mistakes over the years but all in all we err on the side of caution if we do not think a deer is mature.
Yes the forbs and brush on the ranch are excellent which obviously makes a difference. It is a large ranch. To me one of the major things done was adding water pilas all over the ranch which made a huge difference. Even if our tanks go dry in drought there is always water available. There are no livestock on the ranch nor oil field traffic.
In addition the LO and our lease members cull hard. I get that there are folks out there who say culling has no impact but in our case we have done it for years and the results are hard to argue with. We vary the number of does we kill each year based on fawn survival and range conditions. We kill culls on sight and some management bucks. There is no reason in our opinion to let a 3-4 year old basic 8 point walk unless he has some distinguishing feature (huge frame, unusual mass, etc.) We have too many 10-20 point deer to let 8's walk.
So there is a lot more to it than feed. The biggest challenge is finding the right lease members who are willing to be super patient and work with each other. Yes we have rules but they are common sense rules and yes we follow them (including me). So end of the day and as I have told many folks it does not happen by accident.