Taking a deer beyond his genetic potential?

Discuss deer hunting tactics, Deer behavior. Post your Hunting Stories, Pictures, and Questions/Answers.
Posts: 160
Joined: Sat Jul 29, 2017 2:56 pm
Location: Ohio
Status: Offline

Taking a deer beyond his genetic potential?

Unread postby SplitG2 » Mon Jan 27, 2020 8:22 am

Given that this place is full of educated whitetail fellars, I figured I’d get y’alls opinion on this subject.

We’ve all seen how freakishly ridiculous the antlers of a buck can be manipulated into looking on deer farms by providing the bucks and does with hormones, chemicals, special feed and whatnot. The same exact thing can be done with regular farm animals as well. These animals are in controlled environments and being provided “additives” that wild animals don’t get. Obviously we can’t provide the herds we hunt in the real world with these “additives” and we can’t provide them with a controlled environment. We can provide them with a healthy diet year round with the help of food plots, Ag, habitat improvement and whatnot but no way to provide them with a controlled environment.

My question is.....a buck gets X amount of genes from the doe and X amount of genes from the buck. Let’s just say genetically, thanks to his mom and pop, the new born buck fawn has a genetic potential of 150”. Also let’s say you get to watch him grow up and peak in antler growth. Do you believe it’s possible to take that buck beyond his genetic potential in real world conditions?

It is my belief that given real world hunting conditions and given what we have at our disposal on the market today that this is simply not possible. We can do many things to help them be healthy and reach their potential but I just don’t see how it’s possible in the real world to take a deer beyond his genetic potential. Its just my personal belief that if the genetics ain’t there, it just ain’t happening.

I ask because I’m not as educated as many others are on this subject and I’m kinda surprised at the amount of people I come across that believe they can grow their own 200” deer. I just feel if it were possible there would be a heck of a lot more of them running around with the popularity of food plots, year round feeding, habitat improvement etc etc. To me in order for this to be feasible, it would take years and the genetics of all or at least most of the herd and not just a couple deer would have to be Improved.

Am I wrong in my thinking? Always up for some whitetail education.

Hunt Hard or Go Home
User avatar
500 Club
Posts: 1290
Joined: Thu Dec 13, 2018 1:13 pm
Location: Western PA
Status: Offline

Re: Taking a deer beyond his genetic potential?

Unread postby cspot » Mon Jan 27, 2020 8:33 am

The truth of the matter is food plots, minerals, supplemental feeding etc in most of the country is a waste of time as far as "growing" deer. I put in some food plots on my property, but it isn't to "grow" any bigger bucks. I enjoy planting them and they do draw deer in (assuming they are successful plots). However I don't think I have ever killed a mature buck in one of my food plots thru all the years that I have had them.

From most of the research that I have read the only place that supplemental feeding/food plots really pays off in growing larger racks is in arid regions of the country where good food sources are lacking especially in drought years. Also to be successful these supplemental feeding/food plots need to be on a large scale and cost alot of money to pull off. A couple 1 acre food plots aren't really helping.
User avatar
500 Club
Posts: 1231
Joined: Thu Oct 25, 2012 1:01 am
Location: CT, NY, now IA
Status: Offline

Re: Taking a deer beyond his genetic potential?

Unread postby SamPotter » Mon Jan 27, 2020 9:26 am

No. Even in a farm setting, most animals don’t realize their genetic potential. Absolutely everything else has to go perfect for this to happen- nutrition, age, health, etc.
Plus, you can’t really go beyond genetic potential- same thing as “giving it 110%”. Not possible to go beyond 100%.
User avatar
Posts: 9552
Joined: Thu Nov 27, 2014 8:22 am
Location: S Central Wi.
Status: Offline

Re: Taking a deer beyond his genetic potential?

Unread postby stash59 » Mon Jan 27, 2020 9:35 am

IMHO the only way a buck can reach his genetic potential is! Age and adequate nutrition. But "extra" nutrition won't make him grow more bone on his head. IMHO, most wild deer probably don't reach their "full" genetic potential, because outside factors. Too hot, too cold, too dry, too wet, too many other deer, etc. Keep them from reaching their true full potential. A 130" buck may have a true potential to reach 150". And the world record may have actually had the potential to reach 230".

Only thing that can alter this somewhat is injuries, like the bugs that cause freak antlers with lots and lots of weird points.
Happiness is a large gutpile!!!!!!!
User avatar
500 Club
Posts: 508
Joined: Mon Oct 22, 2018 2:15 pm
Location: Arkansas
Status: Offline

Re: Taking a deer beyond his genetic potential?

Unread postby austin1990 » Mon Jan 27, 2020 10:49 am

For some interesting reading on this subject you should look up the Mississippi state deer study about epigenetics. Really good information, I just dont have the time or energy to post it here lol.
500 Club
Posts: 709
Joined: Thu Dec 29, 2016 9:00 am
Location: SE Ohio
Status: Offline

Re: Taking a deer beyond his genetic potential?

Unread postby Jdw » Mon Jan 27, 2020 11:01 am

IMO by the time you have control of those factors you’re farming.
In most areas it’s hard for a buck with superior genetics just to make it to maturity.
500 Club
Posts: 739
Joined: Fri Oct 28, 2016 10:30 am
Location: IN
Status: Offline

Re: Taking a deer beyond his genetic potential?

Unread postby Nelson87 » Mon Jan 27, 2020 11:49 pm

Give this a listen.
https://www.google.com/url?sa=t&source= ... 0125757712

I grin to myself when I hear someone say that they started feeding so and so mineral and they're seeing bigger bucks on their camera than they used to. And I've heard that more than once.
User avatar
500 Club
Posts: 857
Joined: Thu Sep 12, 2019 4:01 am
Location: upper MI
Status: Offline

Re: Taking a deer beyond his genetic potential?

Unread postby 1STRANGEWILDERNESS » Tue Jan 28, 2020 12:13 am

I just wish I could give a deer a safe haven to hit the age at which he can reach full potential. In most real world scenarios people can do all kind of mineral and food plot but before that deer is 2 or 3 he dead..
don’t be broadcasting when you should be tuning in
User avatar
Super Moderator
Posts: 8198
Joined: Sun Mar 14, 2010 3:22 pm
Location: Western L.P. of MI
Status: Offline

Re: Taking a deer beyond his genetic potential?

Unread postby DEERSLAYER » Tue Jan 28, 2020 10:42 am

No, you cannot take them beyond their genetic potential. Their genetic limit is just that. Their limit. Once you reach it the growth stops there because the genetics are programmed turn it off. By far most bucks won't reach that limit in the wild, but many will in good high quality habitat with good soil & plant selection. I don't care how much food you have. If it's lacking important nutrients (or in some cases getting too many nutrients) they are not reaching their max. For example, if the highest protein found in any of the local vegetation is 8% then it just isn't happening. Thermal cover can be a big one too. If a buck can have all the high quality food it could otherwise need but has to endure long periods of intense exposure to the elements it's not going to reach it's potential. For example, if there is no way to get out of direct extremely cold, high winds much of the winter the elements will take so much out of the buck it can take weeks or even months to recuperate from that exposure. There is just so much the body can do at one time so during this recuperation you will be missing out on maximum growth. In extreme cases it can even permanently stunt them.

As for food plots... they almost always will add bone. Often 10"-20" for mature deer but I have heard of up to 100" of difference in one year by going from a poor diet to a good diet & while that was supplemental feed of a penned (10 year old) deer, there was nothing extra special about the feed. In fact, good food plots could very well have done a little better yet. When it comes to food plots most people don't follow directions very well so their food plots are not as attractive or nearly as nutritious as they could be. The difference can be dramatic if you do it right. Not following directions also reduces yield. Regardless of age at which the plants are consumed. I had a friend that wouldn't follow directions & produced maybe 500 lbs an acre of food. I used the exact same mix to produce approximately 18,000 lbs of much higher quality food per acre. If he would have followed directions he could have easily done the same.

Of course no deer will reach their potential without some age.
You cannot invade mainland America. There would be a rifle behind every blade of grass.
Isoroku Yamamoto, Japanese Admiral

  • Advertisement

Return to “Deer Hunting”