It is nothing more than common sense management and you don’t have to break the bank.
Story and photography by Bob Zaiglin
Man’s inherent desire to achieve has taken him to the moon and back, and this same incessant drive to succeed applies to deer management. As a result of the deer hunter’s desire to enjoy larger-racked bucks and managers eager to satisfy the request, an array of techniques have been tested in man’s attempt to augment the size of those prized calcified appendages.
Managers’ initial concern was deer nutrition, particularly in regions characteristically dry over extended periods of time. By providing a pelleted ration replete with all the nutrients necessary to enhance antlers, managers attempted to circumvent Mother Nature’s sometimes stingy attitude when it comes to rainfall, which delegates just how large those antlers can get. Over time, it has become evident that providing a nutritious supplement can increase antler size, but it comes with a hefty price.
It was not long before astute whitetail deer enthusiasts realized that the most effective way of seeing larger racked bucks was simply to allow them to reach maturity. Hence came restrictions and before a shot was fired, a buck had to satisfy certain age and antler criteria in order to be a legitimate harvest. With this restriction alone, an increased number of bucks were allowed to survive to develop larger racks.