This week on the Missouri Woods & Water podcast we get to talk with Matt Ross with the National Deer Association about an article he wrote a few years back titled "The 20 Biggest Deer Research Discoveries of the Last Decade". We specifically talk about our most intriguing 5 of those discoveries in today's show, but you will have to listen to hear which ones. You can also read the article and the research done in different areas of this article at the link below in the show links. Thanks to Matt Ross for hopping on and thanks for listening!
[00:00:00] What is up? Everybody out there in podcast land? Welcome to the Missouri Woods and Water Podcast. I'm your host, Nate Thomas. Just hopping on real quick to do a quick intro before we get into today's topic with Matt Ross of the National Deer Association. Need to run through our sponsors right quick and take care of some business prior to hopping on with Matt.
Like I said, the episode with Matt today is centered around his article that he wrote actually back in 2020, labeled the 20 Biggest Deer Research Discovery Discoveries of the Last Decade. Some of you might have read [00:01:00] this article before. It's like I said, almost three years old. It's a terrific article.
I've been wanting to talk to Matt for a while about this. We actually go over five of the 20 biggest discoveries. Unfortunately we don't have five hours to have a show. So we picked our five favorite ones, I guess you'd call it, or the five. We wanted to talk to Matt more about the most, and we talked to him about it and that's basically what this show is.
I am joined in the show with Andy and our buddy with Habitat Works, Dustin Williams. Dustin was in studio waiting to record his show with us. So we asked Tim to hop on and record with Matt as well. So Dustin's on has his first crack at. What do you call it? I guess hosting a podcast. He did a great job.
So we appreciate him coming on with us too. Let's pay these bills and run through our sponsors real quick. Athlon optics, check 'em out. I can't wait to get back outdoors in the daytime. I've been doing a lot of night hunting the last month or [00:02:00] two. So ready to run some athlon stuff here soon. Check 'em out.
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Might look at some saddles they sell. Check 'em out. That is our sponsors for today. We appreciate them and like I said, it's a good show with Matt, it's just getting more into detail about this topic, the 20 biggest Deer Research Discoveries of the last decade. There's a lot of great stuff. I will link the.
Article as well in our show notes, but you should check out the article on deer association.com, and then you can just search 20 biggest Deer Discoveries. Or you can honestly just Google it and it'll pop right up. So it's a great article. And then you can also read more of the studies, I guess you'd call it, within some of those 20 biggest discoveries.
It's a small. [00:05:00] Portion of what actually happens in that number. There's a lot more research that goes onto it, into it, and then you can read those as well. Pretty cool. If you're a nerd like me when it comes to deer, I like reading this stuff. And we wanted to talk to Matt Ross, who is a great resource with the National Deer Association.
If you're not supporting the National Deer Association we commend you do. They care about deer and they want to keep deer around so that we can continue hunting them for years to come. Anyways, I'll stop talking. Let's get into today's show with Matt Ross. This is the Missouri Woods and Water Podcast.
Okay. With us tonight. We've got a Missouri Woods and Water first, or maybe we don't, but we have, instead of Mike Micah, Nate and Andy, we have. Andy, Nate and Dustin Williams. You can go ahead and break it to him. Micah, you're off the show. We fired Micah . He gone . [00:06:00] We got our buddy Dustin Williams with Habitat Works here today.
Filling in. We're actually gonna record a show with Dustin later tonight and he got here early enough because he wanted to talk to Matt Ross with a National Deer Association also. Matt, what's going on man? What's going on guys? Thanks for having me, Dustin. Maybe I should hang out and listen to your talk afterwards to reciprocate.
You should More than welcome, dude. He is so smart. It's gonna be a good show with him. We're gonna do some some what would you call it? Like farm plan property breakdown and approach of attack as far as improving habitat on where these guys hunt here close to Kansas City.
Yeah, so we're excited about that one too. So we're gonna have a full night of fun topics cuz the topic we're gonna talk about is. . I think Micah was actually the one that sent us this to all three of us. I could be wrong. By the way, folks, Micah's not off the show. It was a joke. No, we voted. Oh we voted.
We voted. Do you have all three of our votes or something? No, me and Dustin did. Oh, you and Dustin. Did you get ownership already? Man, I don't feel like I have a whole lot of gravity here. Delegated [00:07:00] authority, the article is actually a few years old that Matt wrote, but it's the 20 biggest Deer research discoveries of the last decade.
I had seen this back when it had first came out and forgot about it, and then Micah brought it back up to us actually several months ago now. And it's just a really interesting article that Matt put together. Tell us about why you wrote that article and what kind of reception it got when you first wrote it.
Actually, sure. I guess I should, how about you introduce yourself first? , slow down and tell us what you do for the N D A. We're so excited to talk about deer movement stuff that we're jumping right into it. Yeah. Yeah. So I, I'm the director of conservation for nda, so I've been with the company.
For coming on 17 years. It was Q D M A when I was first hired, 2006 when I first came on. I've served in a variety of roles over the years, but my current position I oversee our conservation staff that are positioned across the country. [00:08:00] Interestingly, we actually have two people on the ground in Missouri.
There's a northern representative and a southern representative. They split the. And we have those employees on the ground in partnership with mdc, Missouri Department of Conservation. Nice. And so we could talk about their roles if we have time at one point. But there's other people that are similarly employed by US cost share programs with state agencies.
Some people that actually are full-time employees with us that oversee some of our programs. We have a class that people can take. It's called Dear Steward. And so I have one individual that oversees that program and others and my primary responsibility besides basically administering staff and making sure they're, employing good conservation on the ground for deer hunters, making sure that deer hunting is important.
I oversee. A fair amount of our grants and our stewardship work with the US Forest Service. We have a public lands initiative that has a goal to improve a million acres of public land by [00:09:00] 2026. We're doing that with state wildlife and forestry agencies and primarily the US Forest Service. So working through that takes up a ton of time and making sure that we have contractors on all those places doing that work.
But that's it in a nutshell. I'm talking to you all from New York State. That's where I live. I've always worked from home the entire time I work for the organization. , and I'm a biologist, certified biologist, a wildlife biologist and a forester, but first and foremost a deer hunter.
And that's why I went to school just ate up with deer hunting and it was like, how do I make this into a career? And so per pursued that. And that's the short and dirty of my background of what I do and how long I've been with the company though. That's awesome. Yeah. Anytime you can make your love and your passion a career, it's a win, right?
Oh, absolutely. Yeah. Yeah. Absolutely. Yeah. That's why we started the podcast. Dustin, is doing habitat work as his full-time career now too, and [00:10:00] it's, it makes going to work a lot more fun. Yeah. Like we don't even feel like the podcast is quote unquote work, but No.
because we're getting the chance to talk to guys like you and my uncle, Lindsay Thomas, Jr. He's not really my uncle, but we have the same last name. , we've had Lindsay on a few times. We've gotten to talk to some really cool people through this, through this show. And, we love deer.
There's all, that's all there is to it. Articles like the one you wrote as we can finally pivot into it now. I got a little ahead of myself. Sorry. The articles, like the one you wrote are things that I think go a long way in learning more about deer. How can we keep them, around for us to be able to enjoy despite what, some people might think we love deer so much that we don't want them all to die
, we only wanna, kill them strategically so that we can enjoy their their meat and. And other nice things with them. But so what led you to write that that article back in 20? I told you I was a deer hunter, right? . And as we all know it's [00:11:00] not that easy to kill a jar deer.
And so there was a series of articles that was one of the ones that I've written over the over time that had to do with basically understanding deer movements. What are they doing, right? Like from a deer hunter's perspective, it's hard to figure 'em out. Sometimes it's easy, for the most part, it's not a silver bullet that you can just figure out what deer do.
You can't just predict it even when you think it's gonna happen. So going a little bit further back we. are a science-based organization. We're a member-based organization. People join and you're an N D A member. But we always promote science. We always promote what does the science say?
Because that is iron glad. If people have tested theories and they've proven or disproven it it's something that can be helpful both in management, habitat management, like Dustin knows. But particularly when it comes to hunting. And historically [00:12:00] there was what we knew about what Deere did and where they moved, came from what was known as radio collars.
They put a collar on a deer. The first one that was ever put on a deer was probably in the forties, fifties. And they used to try to triangulate the location of the deer using those antennas. I'm sure you've seen guys or gals do that before. And they get a fixture on it, and then they have to drive around and get another fixture, and they.
basically draw lines and say, where on the topo map, where do those lines intersection? And that's probably about where the deer is. Fast forward to only about a decade ago, probably 15 years ago, we got G Ps collars, geo position system collars. We all know what GPS units are, and they basically took the technology that is in the, like a cell phone, there's a GPS unit in there, there's a camera in there.
. There's all kinds of devices that can be figured and they put it on the Deere's neck. And so we went from having a triangulate with [00:13:00] an antenna to know and where a deer is standing within like a couple feet at any given time. And once G p s units became. more prevalent in research.
They're expensive. , the past 15 years we've learned a ton. And so the first article I wrote was that one of our national conventions, it was a result of me giving a presentation. I gave a talk at one of our national conventions. I don't remember what year that was, but it had to do with mature buck movements.
Like where did the biggest bucks go? And I look we broke down all the latest GPS research on mature bucks that we knew at the time. Where do they spend their time in their home range? Do they go outside their home range? What do they do at different times of year? And that was really popular.
I like a line of people come up and want to talk to me. And Lindsey Thomas Jr. Who you just mentioned, said, we need to write something for the magazine. We need to, not everybody was at this convention. And so a few years later, same. type of thought process happened. We had a [00:14:00] convention one of our national conventions.
I gave a talk on excursions, like, where do deer go when they leave their home range? Because that was a new thing we didn't even know that existed before. There was GPS collars. Just because the deer would leave and go somewhere and the poor researcher or graduate student was out there with the antenna would be like the deer's not here anymore.
because it's gone. So we, that was something we learned and I gave a talk on that. And then fast forward to this article that we're gonna talk about today on this podcast, we were having one of our national. And it was 2020, so to date it, to put a year on it. And I was thinking, how can I play off the 2020 note?
And I thought 20 biggest discoveries over the last initially was gonna be the last 20 years. . And I realized it was too much to do. It was too much research. So cut it down to a decade. . So to give you an idea of where that article came from, was [00:15:00] I gave a talk and I knew I was gonna end up writing something for our website or magazine as a, as an after fact.
Just because of what? Yeah, just because of what happened the first two times. But we presented it and it was, I may not have had the the volume of questions in interest as the first two, just because 2020 was so chaotic, but Right. Put it on the website and it's been a popular one.
We get a lot of traffic from it, and I think people. Like all four of us that wanna learn about deer and what they're doing there's science happening every year that teaches us a little more. And in fact I just attended a conference two weeks ago that there was a whole bunch of new research out which is cool.
So every year there are students out there trying to figure this stuff out. And I don't know if we'll ever learn at all, to be honest with you. They're amazing creatures. So that was the background of the article. And jumping right into it, and I agree cuz reading this article, it, there's a lot of stuff that what you do [00:16:00] is, at least what I do is I read the article, I read whatever I'm reading in the article, and then I relate it to what I've seen with my deer, that I've been after or deer that I've been after and then never seen again. Or they disappeared after September 30th or all these different things. And I read it and just go. . Okay. How could that have happened to him? Or what did he do? So we, yeah like Matt said, there's 20 different things, I guess you'd call it in this article.
We would love to talk about all 20, but this would turn into a 15 hour podcast. So I wrote down five, and I'm sure you two probably have other ones, but we're just gonna pick some of these discoveries that you came or you wrote about, and break down each one a little more. The first one that I'm gonna talk about conveniently, number one is number one, which I actually, I wrote these backwards.
I, I started at 20 and then went up and one and [00:17:00] two are, the two are the ones that I wrote down. So yes, one and two are on there. But the first one is titled Dear C and Slow Motion. Yeah, let's talk about that. Pretty cool stuff. Yeah, this is an actually fairly recent project. It's five, maybe five years ago.
So it wasn't going back a decade or so. Out of the University of Georgia, u UGA has done some of the best deer physiology research. There's some really great universities out there, but a lot of what we know about how Dear Sea, that they can't see Blaze Orange or how they hear really has come from the researchers at University of Georgia.
So this project in particular that I'm talking about is the continuation of some of that vision research that they've been doing for the last decade. And the researchers, a young woman, Erin Watson she basically tried to, to define what is called the flicker fusion [00:18:00] rate. And You all know, like when you go see a movie at the movie theater, you're watching something on the TV screen on Netflix or whatever.
It's a series of still shots, right? Like we've all seen the old film, in fact, a bunch of the social media platforms have the filter that you can apply that has that old film look to it, and it's a bunch of still shots. And so the flicker fusion rate Aaron found deer actually can play that reel faster.
They process it than we do the eye to brain, the, what they see the images and how quickly they go through is at a faster rate than a human eye to brain. And so because of that, it's almost like they have supersonic vision and that they see things at a, their sensitivity to movement.
And how quickly they process the information is much faster than we do. And if you've ever been hunting or not, but you've been interacting with a [00:19:00] deer and it's almost like they have the sixth sense of they picked up something, they picked up movement, they picked up something, it's because they're processing it so much faster than we do.
And one of the things that, one of the neatest things about Erin's research was that she also found that it's the most sensitive, and guess what? Dawn and dusk. And it's because of when they're the most active. And it's also at that time is because the amount of light that is at that time of year at that time of day makes it so they can process those images so much faster.
, that's when Deere up on their feet feeding. If you're not a hunter you may not know that, but Deere, what's known as ular, they're up in, they're up at dawn and dusk, and that's when they're spending most of their time on their feet. And it makes sense, physiologically speaking, that they would process the information as fast as possible when they're up and at risk of being killed, they're a prey animal, right?
So they're trying to figure [00:20:00] that out. And the rate at which she estimated is that it's four times more effective at that time of day than any other time. What does that mean for us as hunters? I don't know. Don't stop trying. Don't. Yeah. Still, I just don't, if you think it's you want to check your phone, you got a text while you're in the stand, or you wanna look over in a certain direction cuz you heard a, a branch or something.
Move four times slower than you normally would. I guess I, I really don't know what that means, but just move darn slow because they can pick that stuff up. And what's crazy is you're not talking, obviously, like seconds we're talking like nanoseconds, I would assume, of how fast they can pick it up.
Yeah. But that gives them, that, like you said, that just a little bit quicker processing to, to react and to do break down what's happening Yeah. That much faster. Which is a difference for them possibly between life and death. Yeah. That's the more I've hunted, obviously camo is a popular thing for people and [00:21:00] everybody pretty much wears it, that hunts.
But I tell you I've just learned that movement is what kills you more than what you've got on, there's all these people talking about, oh gosh, what is it? Ultraviolet the clothes. Yeah. Having, I can't remember what they call it, purple or something. Oh, whatever detergent use.
And I know what you're talking about, but man, like I think, I almost feel like you could be out there wearing construction yellow from head to toe, and if you're sitting still, it's better than if you're wearing the most perfect camo for that environment and making movement. It, I've just from what I've been told and what I've learned, just hunting that movement's, what kills you and this is just proof how many they see in slow motion.
How many times are you sitting out there and you know that old dough walks out and you barely move and she just picks you off immediately? She just Yeah. Ears perked head up and you're like, there is absolutely no way. , she's seen me move. Jokes on us. Yeah, she did. Yeah. You know what [00:22:00] it is too Andy is that it is motion too, because some of this other.
Vision research, what we've learned is they actually don't see their what's called visual acuity. Or basically like their focus, being able to really focus on something and see how, see it with clarity is not that good. , they can almost have a blurry image. , in, if you're gonna look at that picture that I was talking about, that's playing in front of them, it, it's like the, it's pixelated.
Gotcha. It's pixelated. It's it's almost like they, so what they're doing is seeing, and it's not only is it pixelated, but it has a band of a little bit more definition because their eye their pupil is like a horse's pupil. It's a slit, it's not a circular circle up pupil like ours. And so they have this band, a horizontal band that is like pixelated, much less clear than what we see.
And then above and be below that, like on the. Top of the horizon and below the [00:23:00] horizon. It's really blurry. Yeah. So they can't really see, it's not like they have 2020 vision. We aspire to be, unless you have they have 2060 vision. So they can see at about 60 feet what we see at 20 feet.
Okay. Maybe I got that backwards. But so they, what they really do pick up is motion. And so just you could, in terms of whatever camo you wear or obviously sand control is important because they do smell so well, but just don't move . Yeah. Sit still. It's especially we talk about the ground hunting and stuff a lot.
Fred Bears got the 10 commandments of bow hunting and two of those involve their senses and one of 'em is your grandfather used to hunt deer and red plaid. Yeah. Think about that. Just sit down and be quiet and don't move. And then you always want to camouflage, obviously you're sent, like you said, your sound and your appearance.
Back to the fact that they rely on motion when they say, dear, don't move. And high wind situations[00:24:00] they're still out there living. Yeah. But they're gonna be, they got it. They're where the cover is where there's less movement in the trees, in the vegetation. Cuz they're picking all that up.
And if they can't pick off your movement to sense that danger, then they don't want to be where all the vegetation they where situation. Crazy. Yeah. And we've all like been in a tree stand and had that young buck come right under our tree, or that young dough come all the way under our tree and sit there and just move her head.
Yeah. Trying to look at you. She knows something's up there, can't figure it out. And they've got their head moving all these different directions. And if you just stand still. , they can't, they, it's almost like they can't put that picture together like you were talking about Matt. They can't figure out is there something up there that's a threat or am I just Yeah.
Seeing part of the tree and I've sure we've all done this, but if I've seen like a spike and the, and it keeps, staying under my tree for a while and doing that, I'll just go, hello, , and just hello. And then it's oh gosh. Yep, something's there. Now that you're saying like they have that one band of [00:25:00] clarity, it makes me wonder, they're moving their head like that.
Are they trying to get you in that band of clarity so they can see I don't know, maybe not, but I'm thinking too much into it. But are they trying to catch that focus to see what's there or, I think you're right. And I, the reason that they're pupil, this is theorized the reason that the pupil is in a horizontal slit as opposed to a circular slit.
And it is their, their ability to see certain wavelength. You were talking about uv. There's reasons behind that. It's because like at dawn and dusk, that's when those blues and uvs stand out the most, and that's when they're the most active. But the reason they're Bob in their head like that is they saw motion or, and it's likely it was motion.
They saw something and they're either trying to pick that back up, whether they're trying to get it in the band, they don't know where exactly it was, but they're just trying to do that. Or they may also be trying to like, get you to move again. I think that's what like the alert with the [00:26:00] snorting and the stomping, yeah.
They try to get a re a reaction out of you to pick off that movement, like you're saying. Part of that too is warning. Other deer around. , because they are herd animals, not only are they prey, but they're herd animals. So by doing that, you've all seen it. Deer will be feeding and they might be feeding in the same direction, their head's in the same direction, but not necessarily when they bed.
They tend to not be facing each other. They'll be looking in different directions. And so part of that is a a vocal alert to the other deer, be like, Hey, there's a danger in the area. I don't know what it is yet, but I'm trying to figure it out. Yeah. It's just number one, deer sea and slow motion just, made me think of a lot of things.
I do a pretty good job staying still in a tree stand, but man, like the worst times, like we've all been there and 60 yards behind you in the timber where your wind is not a problem. All of a sudden you're getting blowed at because you stood up and turned around and she was [00:27:00] way back there. You can't even see her.
Or it, yeah. And you're just all of a sudden getting blowed at and you're just like I guess that's that for the day. I guess it saw me. And you're, you can't see anything. You don't even know where they're at. You just hear 'em blowing at you. Yeah. And going the other way. And then you have those times where, like you said you get lucky enough, they come underneath you.
They're usually young and stupid, and then they're just moving all over the place, just trying to get you to move. And you make that one movement and then they put the puzzle together. You can almost see that puzzle get finished. Yeah. And then they're usually out of there. Sometimes they come right back.
But yeah. Dear Sea and Deer Sea and Slow Motion, that was the first one. We I was jumping off from that. I won't go too long cuz I know we wanted to cover these other things, but we put on the NDA website last fall. So just this past November, a vision. Infographic. Basically it included this, the flicker fusion rate, but a whole bunch of other stuff about how d c because there's been a ton of research on it.
So [00:28:00] it goes into UV wavelengths and clarity and a all of the things, there's some cra cyclo ence, which is a fa fancy word that says even when their head is down, they can see you in a tree. So if you're interested in How Dear Sea, I'd encourage your listeners to go check out that other infographic about Dear Vision.
Nice. Okay. You want to do number two or do you want to move to a different one? You guys all in agreement? We can go to number two. You are what your grandparents ate. This one is some like mind blowing research stuff. , when this came out, this is a little bit older than the one we just talked about.
I got the article open here. It says 15 2015. This was from Mississippi State. I'm throwing big biologist words out occasionally. I apologize in advance. But this is about a phenomenon called epigenetics. And epigenetics is not unique to just deer. Epigenetics in is in [00:29:00] other wild animals.
It's even in somewhat in humans. Really what it means is your product of your environment to a degree. And when we talk about habitat, I know Dustin's probably read this in thinking about some of this. Oh yeah. What they did in this study was they wanted to know is a deer everywhere?
Like we've all heard those stories about. Oh, that's a great deer from my area. Or and just qualifying it for, oh, that's, that's from that other part of the state and they don't have good soils, or they don't have good food, or they don't have good cover, perfect example.
So where I'm calling in from New York State, we have an aggregate rich region, which some of the biggest bucks come out of around the finger lakes and out in the western part of the state. , I don't live in that area. I live in a mountainous area. Just on the foils of the Adirondacks.
Adirondacks are huge peaks, three, 4,000 foot peaks, the deer definitely different size. Where I live, you, where you guys are, the Ozarks [00:30:00] compared to Northern Missouri. , you can pick any state and do the same thing. But what they did, this researcher Eric, Dr. Eric Michael with Mississippi State, they wanted to know are whitetails doomed?
from where they were born. Is that, is it a effect of where they were truly a product of their environment or not? And so what they did was they took pregnant dose from three different regions of the state of Mississippi. And they've I think have, since this project came out, have tested this in other places, in other states, and it held true, but basically a really poor soil area place that doesn't have a lot of agriculture.
There's not a lot of land use in ag from a medium. It's part of the state, and then like a place that's just bang up. There's corn and soybeans everywhere. It's just lots of food. And historically, and the data shows that decades of harvest [00:31:00] data, looking at it, the average bucks from the best high quality area are certainly bigger antler and bigger body than, compared to those other two places.
But what they did was they took wild dough that were pregnant captured them let them give birth to fawns, took those fawns and raised them for a, a couple years of their life, had them have fawns and they did this for a couple generations. The entire time they fed all of these deer, a super high quality diet.
One that would reflect the deer from the. Best region and just wanted to know, will the ones from the poor soil region ever catch up? And you know what the answer was? They did, and in fact, in some cases, surpassed. But it took two generations at least for it to happen. Meaning there's an effect, a genetic effect.
This is like mind blowing [00:32:00] stuff, where even if you took a pregnant dough from the best soil region, sorry, the worst soil region, she has a fawn, a buck fawn. You give that buck fawn, 3, 4, 5, 6 years to reach maturity. He's eating great food the whole time. He still is not gonna produce antlers that are equal to some of those better soils.
Keep impregnate a dough. They have a fawn, a buck, fawn. , that one is still different in size. And by the time you get to another generation that's erased. And what they found was through epigenetics that in addition to the environment, a buck experienced during his life, the habitat quality experienced by his parents and his grandparents is also critically important.
There's that lag effect. So what's the advantage? Why would they, why would that happen?[00:33:00] It's probably there's that lag effect because you guys know that ha on a landscape scale, habitat doesn't change overnight. It's not like the best place of Missouri where there's not much for us, but there's lots of corn and soybeans.
It's not a year to year thing that there's little of it, a lot of it. It's almost always a lot of it. , , there might be times where there's a drought and it can't be produced, and so it protects them from that. But this phenomenon keeps animals from growing larger in a particularly good year, only to be hurt when the forge quality returns to normal.
That's basically why it's theorized that it happens. But how crazy of that. One of the cool things though was that they found, was that after they fed them over these times the buck Fs, after two generations actually equaled or surpassed some of the wild bucks that were, their lineage originally came from the [00:34:00] best areas.
And so again, talking about Missouri, you could have literally a Boone and Crockett Trophy. give birth. Birth, not him give birth, but obviously in pregnant adult they have a fawn, a buck fawn. Two generations go by and on average, that buck could still be smaller than the ones that are coming out of the Ozarks if given the right habitat management works, it just takes time to work.
That's all. Dustin, just grip about that? Yeah. , go ahead. plug Dustin Williams. They got in the grand scheme of things, even though it takes a couple generations, that's really not that much time. And it, no, I, it got my wheels turning because you probably know the answer to this. Is it Buck able to produce viable semen at one and a half at the earliest so that, yes.
Okay. So a yearling buck won't, but, so I went to let me say, let me qualify that fawns or year, some folks call 'em yearlings, but fawns ones that are six month [00:35:00] old buck Ordo. They can actually become sexually mature at six months, but it has to do with their weight, believe it or not their age.
Okay. It's not like humans where you hit your teens and you become sexually mature for I think if I have these numbers right the average buck Fawn, if they hit about 80, or maybe it's do Doon, if they hit about 80 pounds live weight, they become sexually mature. And for Buck fawns, I think it's 85 pounds, but it varies depending on the state.
That's an ad, like a real broad average across the country. . So it's gonna vary based on where you are, but if your habitat's really rocking you are gonna have funds breathing a lot, at six months of age. Yeah. Yeah. Those button bucks might actually have viable semen on my way to the project earlier this week that I'm actually on my way home from right now, but they sent me a trail cam picture of a yearling mounting a dough.
and it was after Nate sent me the article that we're talking about today and that I [00:36:00] was like you could have that buck when he meets that mature age of five and a half to six and a half that a lot of guys are looking for already as a grandfather with this possible epigenetics happening. Say you did a, you had a full scale version of what I'm doing right now where a whole crew came and did TSI on your whole property.
Yeah. Yeah. By the time that Buck's fawns reached that age, they could be a whole different class of animal simply because of the work that you've done. And think of it the other way around. If you are really doing consistent habitat management you were buffered for a couple years. If you do, if you have a long history of working on your ground to make it better, good food, good cover, it's constantly there. Your neighbors are doing it. Even if you're in a. Quote, unquote poor part of the state, but you're providing within, several hundred acres, lots of good food and cover. [00:37:00] You could have one of those years where stuff just doesn't grow well or whatever.
It's not gonna decline quickly. You got, you got a nice buffers on there. So habitat management works. Genetics are part of this, but they truly are a product of their environment. Deer are, if you feed 'em, it'll work. That's why I've always been like really impressed with some of the deer that come out of areas that are not considered world class.
Like even in Missouri, the southern part of our state is consider. not as good quality of deer as the northern part of our state. Northern part of our state has better food more for them, to eat. Yeah. So it's, it, to me it's always like really cool when you get that 190 inch buck that weighs 125 pounds, but he's just got this freak thing, on his head.
And you're like, [00:38:00] how did that grow on that ? And I know genetics has a lot to do with it. And you're just like, yeah, but what did his father look like in that grandfather? You didn't hear of them being that big. What caused that deer to become what it is now? And it could be very well, because some farmer in that area started doing stuff five years ago, and the grandfather Ben benefited and then the mother or father, and now that deer is all of a sudden benefiting from that work five years ago.
But, It's always been interesting. And don't forget, we get 50% of our genetics from my mom's. Yeah. That Mississippi State Deer Lab that we were just talking about, they had just talking to some of the researchers and understanding some of the work that's been done there.
They, all these research. I worked in college at a deer lab as well. It was out of New Hampshire up, up in the northeast here. But, we had captive deer that were used for studies similar to [00:39:00] this. And we had we had those that are, were in their teens that were still given birth, and we couldn't talk about some of those things that we have time.
But that Mississippi State Deer Lab, they had one dough looking at genetics that she wasn't a very big dough. She was, I think, moderate sized, but she produced. More boon and Crockett bucks within their research facility than any other buck or dough that they could attribute to. So she would give birth and if it was a, if it was a buck fawn, it had a very good shot at becoming a really big antler deer.
So there was something in her genetics that caused when she gave birth to a male to be a big antler male. It didn't matter if they bred her with a big buck or a little buck, she just pretty consistently produced big bucks. And you can't tell what the genetics of a dough looks like. I said, I'm gonna tell you honestly, that terrifies me , because you always I [00:40:00] know, probably think we'll talk about this a little bit later, but if you shoot a dough and you're like, oh my gosh, but she's the next bona Crockett producer, I try to take a few doughs, and try to manage my herd size.
And I'm always like, I wanna make sure I shoot the right one. What if that one's break? Because here, this year's, the first year Different Missouri. Yeah, but it, the dough season's after the rut. . Yeah. And I'm always terrified okay, which one did the big one breed? And then also, which one is carrying the genetics?
So it's, there's no way, there's no way to know what the dough, you can't tell, you can't tell. You know what we were just talking about And you did have that freak out moment when you, me and Chase. Yeah. So my son and Andy actually both killed a dough within five minutes of each other.
My son's actually ended up being a button buck, but what we thought was a dough. And then Andy shot a dough shortly after that and she was big. She picked us off in the stand and it was one of those smart ones. I was like, ah, I'm tired of you picking me off. Every time she blows, she goes, but when, like, when we got up to her, we're like, okay, she is a mature, yeah, like this is a mature dough [00:41:00] and you could almost see Andy's like freak out factor, start increasing on his face like it's anxiety cuz you don't know she's got the next boner inside.
I have a I know for a fact all my property, I have a dough and I'm pretty sure it's the same one. , she has twin bucks every year for three years. I've had twin bucks on that. On this same property, it could be a different dough, I realize. But in my mind, there's no, no one else. There's one golden child out there, and I'm gonna mess up and shoot her
But the chances of those two bucks staying on your property, which we'll talk about later, right? I think in I guess vacations or coaling maybe, but. I was just gonna say, but tho if they're buck phones, there's a high likelihood that they're leaving. Yeah. Cause they disperse, they go somewhere else, but yeah.
So I get anxiety every time they'd already read my mind. Yeah. No, I I'm with you cuz I, I could see that happen when you were like, actually with both deer, when we, even when we walked up on Chase's deer, which was my son's first deer last year, and we're like, oh, that's a button [00:42:00] buck. And you could almost see Andy go Damnit
He'll never be at Boer. I'll tell you what, Andy, it's more important to, to remove them. Yeah. Because the more mals, the less food for the ones that are out there. And it is more important to do the habitat work. Honestly, the bigger bang for your buck is to. , once you have an adult Bach there, they have already dispersed, so they're yours to grow.
Yeah. Anything with antlers, they, there's, they're not going anywhere. Your neighbor might kill 'em. That's the kind of stuff that you gotta think about. But every year, thumb in the sore spot. Yeah. Yeah. You, that might happen. So that's something you can worry about. But any button block being something that would, you'd be able to hunt, that's not gonna happen.
And shooting a do, that's gonna be the next Boer producer. You can't really control that. Yeah. But you can, because you need to think about, you can worry about it, Matt. And that's what Andy does well, . And again, the good thing this year makes me feel a little more comfortable cuz I always [00:43:00] tell myself I have to get rid of some dough.
My herd is too big. And I think nap test where I'm at, I have an issue. You got a lot of deer. It's always after the rut, and I'm always like, oh, I don't know which one. I, to my, in my mind, I'm like, I'm gonna screw up and shoot the wrong do. And then, but this year, being beforehand, I'm a lot more comfortable.
I feel as of right now, anyway, going ahead and col, I don't wanna say coaling, but taking some dough outta my herd prior to the rut, because they're pretty, I'm excited for it to be in front of the rut. That's good. Finally. Yeah. . Okay. You wanna ready to move on to the next one? Yeah, let's get more hold.
Yeah. All right, go ahead. Sorry boys, but number four on the list, antler size matters. Yeah, this was cool too. I wanted to say upfront. Yeah. No shit. . Yeah, but there's more to it than just what that statement is upfront. So that's why I wanted to say that. Le listen to [00:44:00] this study. This is like some , mad scientists came up with a project and they decided that Da Daniel Marina was the researcher again, this was another Mississippi State University Deer Lab project in 2018.
They, what they did was they had breeding pens. So again, this is a captive deer herd, so it's not in the wild. But they were able to segregate dough that were in heat into a center pen that allowed them to basically choose between bucks based on who was flanking them, the bucks that were in pens on either side.
And she had the ability to basically make a choice between those two options. And so they, Daniel and his co-authors removed the antlers, the hard antlers off the deer. They cut 'em off with they sedated the deer, cut 'em off. We all know that you. Once the antlers hard and it doesn't hurt a deer.
So if that's something your listeners are thinking too, they were able to cut [00:45:00] 'em off and then fasten a device on the bottom of all the antlers and then talk about like mad scientists and like messing with your head. They change the antlers between individuals , and so they would put, a buck that was five and a half years old, nearly 2 75 live weight and put little dinky antlers on his head.
How did they, and then they take Gorilla, so yeah. Gorilla duct tape, ? No, they had this cool, they used the Daniel gave a presentation at the same conference that I was just talking to that I was at a few weeks ago. And I remember seeing the pictures in his presentation and poster. They worked with the like engineering department or the students in the mechanical engineering department and they created these aluminum.
they had to paint 'em, so they made 'em antler color, but they had these, they made these like cuff cufflings, or not cufflings, but like these circular male female parts that they were able to [00:46:00] use Alan wrench screws and drill it into the base of the antler. And they left a stub of the pedicle and then Dr.
Drill another one of the female part into the pedicle. Oh. And so they could easily just interchange the antlers and it had a three quarter inch deep metal ring all around the bottom. So you could see it. And then they, I think maybe what they did was they literally put like flesh colored tape around it.
, maybe adhesive tape or something like that to make it look like it was part of the antler. But yeah, so they would take a one and a half year old yearling, what we call yearlings buck. That was, probably a forker or something like that. And they put one 60 antlers on 'em.
And then they did this experiment. They ran it over and over again, varying the different sizes different ages. They would compare different same age classes and weights, but then they would mix it up. And once he introduced the do and heat into the pen beside the pens of her two options bucks with either [00:47:00] large or smaller inhalers, amazingly dough picked bucks.
And as Nate said, duh, , 90% of the time that had bigger antlers. Wow. So it didn't matter the age or weight or anything, they always looked for antler size. . That's a, huh. What's the, I forgot it. I learned it in school. But the term for what a peacock does, where it's a disadvantage for them to carry that, but a female perceives it as that's a strong individual.
It's I don't know, Nate Thomason, peacock, , carrying your weight. Just peacock. I'm a peacock captain. You gotta let me fly . That's what I figured. I don't know. I wonder if it has to do with just perceived hindrance, but being able to survive with carrying that on your head. And yeah.
I'm sure it has something to do with meat selection and that bigger, what are antlers used for? Antlers are used for to, for defend and displaying. Basically they [00:48:00] do it to fight each other, but also to display, like you're talking about with peacock, like peacock or whatever animal you pick.
And so part of it is for posturing, two other bucks to show 'em who's dominant. But part of it is apparently to show off to the ladies. Sure. And. Like how big my antlers are. . So if that's the case, could it be assumed in the wild that bigger bucks breed more dough? Or is there more that goes into that?
I guess there's more that goes into that and we can to answer that, there's some been some really cool research done on using DNA sequencing and figuring that out. There's, it's not like a, again, no silver bullet and it's always it depends answer. Te Texas a and m Kingsville has done some amazing research that I think one of the projects we may get to tonight, maybe not, but has had to do with looking at some of the DNA n a sequencing and what Bucks bred the most.
One of the projects that I talk [00:49:00] about in this article has to do with no matter, even if you have a good aid structure and there's mature bucks around, even if that exists in some of the best states and herds in the country, About a third of the breeding is occurring from one in two year old bucks.
So even in your best counties in Missouri that produce the most boon and crack of bucks, there's a bunch of one in two year olds, up to a third of them, are still contributing to the DNA n a of the breeding in those counties. Some people think of that as, damn, that sucks. . But honestly, those bucks might be Bo and Crocketts too.
They just have expressive. They haven't reached that age. What do you think about like how long it takes sometimes a buck to breed a dough, they lock her down, they keep her away from everybody else. Like that could be a day, days long process. Yeah. Those are days long where that 190 inch deer, whatever, it's not breeding.
Another is not doing anything else. Those one and two year olds are in there. All right. Yeah. I'll never forget [00:50:00] that deer right there that I killed in 2020. , he had a dough pinned in a small little thicket of timber and I had to wait for him. And the entire time this young buck was just outside pacing.
As soon as he came out waiting, wait, waiting, as soon as he came out and I shot him, that young buck immediately took the opportunity to try to mount her right in front of me. Like I was almost more concerned with that than trying to watch him go down. It was so interesting. And that's generally how that stuff happens, is opportunistically.
Yeah. They will zoom in. And it was the second that guy went hit the ground, he was right, right at her. And it was it was just really interesting. But Andy, to take that even further though, some of the studies that have had DNA and can sequence like entire genomes of like herds and be able to say they find a deadhead.
They can say who, what are the genes of this? Who produced this deer. , they find a shed antler. Deer obviously that are killed [00:51:00] by hunters and brought in, and they over the one one of these projects that they did this for like over a decade. They had some, like some of their biggest antler deer and they could never find any contributions, at least in box from those deer.
Like meaning they may have been non-readers, they may have never successfully, or they gave birth the, or, they pregnant adult do, gave birth. And every single time that left those Bach fens were killed, but unlikely. And so there's some theory, this is theory, that some of the biggest antler bucks are like that in some places because they're non-readers.
They don't compete during the rut like others do, but they don't get worn down. Not only they're, they visible, don't get worn down. They're running around. They're not visible. Yeah, exactly. So they get older, just, they're just. It deer instead of buck Deer. Yeah. They're just hanging out in the cover.[00:52:00]
Bad bachelors. Yeah. Doesn't comes up. Yeah. . They're just hanging out and they never go running around looking for doze. Yeah. Huh. And so they don't come at risk of getting shot. And this part of the article made me also think about that a l question, does a buck know what he has?
Does he know what he is, what's on his head? You see them go under fences sometimes and they know what's there. Yep. But do they know they're huge? Do they know they're 180 inch deer? Do they know how big they actually are? I've always I, pondered that some of the Georgia stuff that came out earlier was they do know what they have because of when antlers are in velvet and they're full of nerves, they have a sense of the three-dimensional stuff that's going on up there.
which gives them a, like a, almost like having muscle memory of, drawing your boac or, you do something over and over again. They have the ability to know how big of a space that takes up. , they might not know if they're [00:53:00] a 12 pointer or eight pointer or whatever, but they generally know that they're probably getting bigger every year.
Yeah. And, with maturity and bigger weight and bigger muscle and bigger skeletal structure, they're badass and they can they do know that. I think that's where the dominance comes in is antler size. They're weight, they're looking down on other deer. There's a whole bunch to it.
check out and check out this sick kicker, bro. I keep picturing now these little one and a half year old deer, they did this study on, they screwed in these hundreds, could barely walk around. He's very, all of a sudden he has these little an now he used to walk around like Joe cool, cuz they got his his neck muscles have to get really strong really fast.
but what a cool study though, huh? That's crazy. That's awesome. Think about that. And even cooler is the next part of your article, which is the one I'm most looking forward to out of all of them is number 12. Dear go on vacation, which pisses me off. But anyway, dear, go on vacation.
Yeah, so thi this was Dear [00:54:00] Excursions, which I mentioned at the top of the podcast. We didn't even know these things happened before 2010, really because of that triangulation, with the radio collars basically. excursions are, let me define that first for the audience. Deere live within what we call a home range.
That's where they are 95% of the time. 95 to a hundred percent of the time. Meaning if you drew a circle on all the places that particular deer buck, ordo would be you got a pretty good chance of finding them in that circle. Their core area, if you've ever heard that term, is where they are 50% of the time.
I think of it as their bedroom, meaning there's a 50 50 shot. Usually their core area is only about 10 to 15% of their home range. It moves around. The core area is not always the same spot. It depends on the season. It depends on habitat management, depends on hunting, pressure, all kinds of stuff. But they only spend about 50% of their time on about 10 to 15% [00:55:00] of where they will be normally.
Okay. Now that we defined all that to blow your mind, they leave all of that . They will leave even though they. . As deer get older, they, their home range shrinks because they get more comfortable with where the places are. They're safest. It's called site fidelity. But even though that happens, both bucks and os it's heavier on the buck side.
And it's not seasonal dependent. More of it happens during the rut than outside. But it can happen in the summer, it can happen in the spring. Deer will do what we call an excursion, which means they go on this jaunt that is well outside of the home range. That circle that you drew, it averages about one to two miles away.
They've been known to go pretty darn far. And I'm gonna give you an example from Missouri, which is one of the longest that we've ever think has happened. But they'll go, a mile or two away. It lasts about a day, but they can last days it could [00:56:00] be several days and about 50% of bucks do it.
It doesn't matter the age. And the ones that do go, the half of bucks, if you just said 50% of all bucks do this. About half of them go more than once. It's not like a one-time thing. It's almost okay, I'm going to look for something. We are not really sure what it is, but they go, a lot of it is breeding related, but it's not a hundred percent because it occurs in the spring and summer too.
Some people think it's related to deer going back to where they were born. That's what I've heard. Yeah. Yep. Some deer definitely have it's pro, it's proposed that it's up to 25% of all deer have what's called a dumbbell shaped home range. Meaning there's this blob over here where they spend part of the year, and there's a blob over here where they spend some of the year, and they can be found in either place depending on what time of year.
I can tell you some crazy examples of deer that on the same day, , they would go from one to the other [00:57:00] and spend they might be three miles apart. They'll spend it spring and summer over here, three miles apart. They go over there and they're over. You guys probably know that's true. Like even though you haven't seen it and don't have a collar on deer.
. So both of those things are true. And there's some deer that have those dumbbell sh home ranges, but even they go on excursions, they leave where they are in a random, chaotic distance that they just go somewhere. And so when we first discovered this, in 2010, we're talking about over 10 years ago at this point it immediately hit a lot of people.
Okay, those times I'm on stand and I catch a glimpse at a buck. Never seen 'em before. . And that's the only time I seen them or got a trail camera, picture of a buck. Never seen 'em before. Where'd he go? And you go hunt it hard and you never see that deer or of course, this is where I'm sure Andy's already thinking you have a deer on camera and somebody shoots him a [00:58:00] mile or two away and he had been spending every day an hour on your place.
You can't control excursions unless you put a fence up. And that's not fair chase anymore. They happen. Yeah. And I wrote in the talk I gave about specifically about excursions explicit happens, the explicit that I'm thinking excursions happen too.
They happen. You can't stop it. Yeah. It sucks. But it's part partly to do with dispersing those genes we were talking about earlier. , but it's interesting, and both Bucks and dos do it. One research project Outta of Tennessee had collars on Bucks and Dos. They documented the first ever dear Booty call because they had a buck leave, its home range and a do leave her home range on excursions.
They met up in the middle of the night, hung out for about 15 hours, and then they both went back to their places. . That's funny. . That's good. Do you think part of it too is obviously it could be breeding related these vacations they go on or [00:59:00] whatever. Yeah. Do they think part of it could just be general curiosity as a, as an animal I'm bored, I want to go check stuff out.
Or obviously you can't talk to a deer and find out why, or, yeah. Are there excursions generally to the same areas year after year? . That's a good question. So there was a study done out of Illinois, Southern Illinois University at Carbondale. They had collars on younger bucks. , not mature bucks.
. And they found that there were some overlap between when a deer would go on an excursion and when they eventually dispersed that the direction was similar. Okay. Meaning it was almost like they were testing out where they were gonna end up setting up shop. But from the majority of the research that I've seen, this stuff has been done all over the country.
This is not unique to a specific part of the US or North America, , Eastern Shore, Maryland, Louisiana. , Missouri has done a bunch of work. Michigan. The Pennsylvania does some great work outta Pennsylvania. [01:00:00] They've all documented this stuff. None of them have really shown a consistency in terms of what direction.
One study at a Penn, this Pennsylvania study I just mentioned, they had two deer. They were dos, they were, had home ranges that were five miles apart. They both made excursions to the same location, . So it was almost like, I don't know, maybe they came from I, I don't know. There was the theories that it was potentially related to resource need.
Like they were going to mineral sites. Or they were going to where the food was or the winter was bad. That one caseload, I was telling you, even though the average deer that goes on these is only a mile or two away, they've gone dozens of miles. And in one case in Missouri, there was a three and a half year old buck that went on an excursion.
There's an article on our website specifically about this deer. It got picked up by a lot of the media too. And it's been on other outdoor platforms, but there was a three and a half year old buck that went from the, I think it was the KC [01:01:00] area, and ended up traveling 130 miles. Holy cow. It, did it go north, north and east?
I'm pretty sure it crossed the Missouri River. It did. Do you remember hearing that one? Yeah. I know what you're talking about now. A freaking deer crossed the Missouri River. . Yeah. And it, yeah, he just, I remember reading about that. He just set up and just started going. Yeah. But he hadn't, I don't, maybe they didn't have him collared at too, and he ended up.
At the hundred and 38th mile or something like that. Huh? That's really abnormal. Something tells me there was something wrong with that deer. You crossed a bunch of I was thinking it . I just started walking. I was walking. Yeah, exactly. Now I told you too, like we know where they are to the, to the meter almost because of these GPS colors, they have that buck.
Although I think there's, I said maybe there was something wrong with him. He wasn't dumb. Because if you go look at the article on our website he would stop every night and find these little patches of [01:02:00] cover and just stay in there during daylight hours and then the next day start moving.
And you can see these little like little wood locks in the middle of ag country. I think he set up shop next to literally like a mall or something at some point. , like he wasn't. He wasn't he didn't lose his faculties. He knew how to survive what he was doing. So I don't think he was diseased or mentally he just started walking.
I dunno. That's crazy. And your guys' articles on deer movement, especially this one, both have, given me made me understand more and know when things aren't good for you. So I think all three of us, and probably even Dustin do this. I nickname my deer and then I will keep a journal of every time that deer shows up on trail camera, every time I see them, I will write down, the date, the time, which way they were coming from or which way they were walking to, just all that stuff.
And I've gotten to where now I wanna start doing the [01:03:00] weather, but originally I didn't do that. But this one particular deer, which one I'm talking about, the one he's not coming back, he's not coming back. , this deer, literally like five pictures a day on camera, just every single day in September.
And then somewhere around like the end of September 30th, gone, never seen again. And reading your guys' articles, I know exactly why his core area, that farm was part of that core area, but not the 50% or the bedroom like you talk about. And yeah, for breeding season, he left and either got killed or something happened to him, or he moved off somewhere else to altogether.
But it's just when you see those changes, reading your guys' articles has really educated a guy like me to go, I'm screwed. I'm never gonna see him again. You understand what's happening to you. almost, to, to counter that to a degree, and I don't mean to counter you, the same thing with the Corey [01:04:00] area.
I remember I did not give him, tell you 10. Wait a minute. Wait a minute. So you're saying there's a chance There's a chance. Yeah. You know the core area I told you it was like 10 to 15% of a, of bucks home range on average. Those are a lot smaller than people think. In the summer, they're really small, but that's when they're home range is the smallest anyway.
Their home range expands during the breeding season. But if a buck's home range is like five, 600 acres and you're talking about 10% of that, you're talking about 50 acres. Yeah. And so you can do the really good job working on habitat, and if a deer likes living there, that might be a part of their core area.
Even if you don't own 40 acres, if you own 20, you might have the best core area. Now you're not gonna support a dozen bucks on that, but you are providing something. And if you do work with your neighbors and they're doing similar efforts, it creates a landscape effect, but yeah. [01:05:00] Yeah I was just really interested in that one deer go on vacation.
Just honestly, deer movement in general is really interesting to me. It explained why. Yeah. I had that one buck and it's happened to multiple people, but I had one buck, I have two pictures of him. One was July 3rd, one was September 3rd. Never seen him again. Never seen him before. He was on an excursion.
I'm guessing you said sometimes twice a year. It would make sense. Yeah. He left his home range and I have a feeling, I know a general direction, but it's so hard to tell. But that explains why I only have two pictures of him. He was there for a day and gone. Yeah. Yeah. That's, that's why trail cameras are so awesome.
Is that you don't need a $3,000 GPS collar on a buck. You got enough cameras out there and you can kind get a sense where you're spent. Its time. And when they leave , like they're not around anymore. It'd be cool to have one of those, though. It would be . Yep. But yeah. You got anything to add to that, Dustin?
No, I like, when I listen to you guys, I'm glad I hunt public land cuz I don't get attached to any deer , dude. You do I [01:06:00] nickname the damn things and it's I want you, and it can be a bad, it can be a negative just as much as a positive. And I get a lot of, like the guys that call me, they're like, I only have 40 acres or only have 20 or 10 or 50 or whatever it is.
I'm like, the best thing that you can do is make that junk as good as you can cuz you know that deer gonna move through it, especially in the rut they might. , I don't know if they have the cognizant or the cognitive ability to just going through there be like, Ooh, I remember seeing this patch of habitat.
, maybe they get pressured somewhere else and they know that they can go back to that on these excursions. It's just another option. Oh yeah. As the landscape keeps getting fragmented, build what you have and then it'll be good. At least as long as it's yours, can only work with what you got.
Yep. Yep. So that's number 12. Dear. Go on. Vacation. And then last but not least, at least on my list. No, that's, I wanna hear this one. Yeah. Number 20, because this is a, it almost is always an argument [01:07:00] between people. Coaling does not work. Yeah. So this was a project outta Texas. Donnie Draeger was the researcher the main author and some of the co-authors.
They wanted to really understand. long term, because culling is not something that happens overnight. Does it work or does it not? And they said we need a big project site. So they took a hundred thousand acre scale chunk of one of the bigger ranches down there. I don't remember which one of, I used to know the name, but I forgot off the top of my head.
It's not King Ranch. I don't think. It may have been faith. But anyway, it's one of the big ranches. So wasn't it the ranch where that guy poached all the deer at some point? Or was that the different, the other one? I don't think so. No. This one's highly researched in other things.
But they took a hundred thousand acres and they said we need to do this for at least a decade. Oof. And so for 10 years, they [01:08:00] had three study units within that a hundred thousand acres, and they replicated it. So it wasn't like they had even division between a hundred thousand acres and had three chunks.
They had parts of that was broken up and they replicated it. So they did this over and over in that a hundred thousand acres, and they set up three different defined areas, intensive culling, moderate culling, and a control, which means they didn't do anything to it. All of these areas had similar habitat characteristics, same quality.
It's South Texas, so it was all basically homogenous. . And the intensive the intensive level of calling involved a level of removing deer that you or I would not even be able to afford or think about , meaning not only was it done through hunting, . . But they basically fool, you've seen those videos where they fly helicopters and shoe hogs.
They did that with deer . They were shooting [01:09:00] deer. If they didn't meet a certain quality, they removed them by age class. It wasn't just had to have so many points. But they had a certain coloring criteria for two year olds, three year olds, four year olds, five-year-olds. And they had tags on Deere. And so they're ear tags.
So they knew the h they were able to say, there's deer number 5 87. He's this year, this age. He doesn't meet the criteria. He's either, either gone or not. And they did that through various means, including helicopters, spotlighting, all kinds of crazy stuff. The moderate one was basically applied to hunter, hunter removal, which is what would be a normal situation if somebody was trying to do it.
And then the control, they didn't remove any deer. The last seven of the 10 years bucks that were captured in the intensive area. Oh yeah. They even captured 'em and did not meet their calling criteria. They just com you know, they would actually capture 'em once a year to put new tags on 'em or put new [01:10:00] collars on 'em and they'd actually euthanized deer.
So seven of the 10 years they actually add EU in his euthanasia to the deer because those deer didn't meet it. So this is like above and beyond what anybody would be able to normally about extreme. Extreme. After all that time, they saw no difference between any of the treatments the area that at a hundred thousand acre scale, over a decade worth of that intensive breeding, those deer were about the same size of the area that was the control and as the area of the moderate really meaning.
. Yeah. They didn't see a difference in antler quality by age class at all. And so why is that? Going back to Andy's greatest fears, that you can't tell what the dough is carrying. It's gotta be part of it because habitat was the same across all those, they, we can't see DNA in 50% of the deer that are contributing to [01:11:00] it.
That's a big factor. There you go. Even thinking back to the first topic too, like when you start playing into Yeah. What kind of habitat they have and stress factors and other stuff like that. There's so many things that go into what they produce and outside of just genetics. Yeah. And you can't even beyond looking at a dough, you can't also look at a b and determine whether or not he's gonna throw a punitive b if he cires one or a big antler Bach.
You can't like antler quality and size. is a reflection more of environment like we talked about earlier in the podcast, in the habitat than it is an age for sure. It, age is the number, like if you want to grow bigger, antler deer, let 'em get older, that's what you have the most control over.
, don't shoot 'em when they're young. The second most important thing is nutrition. Genetics is the, is a part of it, but it's the thing we have the least control over. You don't have any control over genetics. Yeah. From either the [01:12:00] buck or the do side. You can't just look at a buck and say, oh, he's gotta be siren.
Guys, I'm like five, seven, my brother's six one. We came from the same parents. It's a thing. Yeah. A thing, like we said earlier, that button buck that we accidentally shot, not accidentally, my son shot it, thought it was a dough, it was a button buck. It doesn't really matter cuz he's going to leave and find a new home range, most likely.
, you coal that young deer. That's Micah, by the way. Matt, you can wave at him. Micah walked in. He's the one we fired. , what's it doing? You think about stuff like what you just said and genetics. And even those dinky deer could be the ones that are sirening some monsters.
Thinking about like a buck. I had on one of my farms a couple years ago that evil Eddie Deer, that was a 10 year old just mainframe and G one s and nothing else look goofier than hell. But he could have been producing some of the biggest deer in that area. Yeah. He just himself was [01:13:00] weird, blonde, whatever around with a cane, with a thing on, a growth on a jaw.
It's just, it's just interesting and to me, understanding that coaling doesn't work is mostly because you almost have no control over the environment that you're coaling, especially us people who are hunting. Uncontrolled areas like that ranch, even though it was huge. Yeah. I have no control over what my neighbor's doing or what they're choosing to shoot unless we can talk about it and, come do a plan together.
But, and just like you said, 50% of the deer are carrying the DNA that I'm having. I don't know what, I can't do anything with him. What I tell hunters is, listen, I have kids, I had no say in whether they were boys or girls , there was no, it was gonna happen. Whatever was gonna happen, and that is where people clicked for them and be like, oh yeah. Like you don't have control over that. It's the role of the dice. And so what would make you think you can do that with deer? [01:14:00] Yeah. Yeah. You can't, it makes sense. You know what, some of the other like management ideas that I've heard, Make more sense to me if you're attempting to grow big deer, I'm not saying I necessarily agree with him, but we have a friend of ours that has a property that he hunts, that he picks a deer, that he wants to be the big one at three and a half, and he eliminates the competition essentially.
Like he'll bring people in to kill the other ones. And, basically makes that one King, king Kong and he continues to get bigger the next, four or five years old. And you think about like your properties, you hunt, Micah's got a deer at one of his properties, that's a giant asshole and just, runs the place.
If that deer was gone, would a higher class deer maybe stay or move in? I guess that's possible, but even then you don't really know if you're affecting anything. You don't. And that's a form of coaling, I guess if you're deciding to take, let's say a [01:15:00] three and a half year old, that's just super aggressive.
Or whatever, but that's the same guy I think you're talking about. He also has, people come, all eight points are fair game, but anything over eight, it's a no shoot. Like then he, he Coles from there and grows his, ideal deer. It's like he's picking his prize fighters almost, which, in that case Yeah, no, I get that.
You don't know which one's going to blow up the next year or what, there's been plenty of cases of deer that have gone from eight to more right? Or less. Yeah, definitely. And the average deer wants, the average block wants to grow eight points. If you looked at all the bucks in your state or your county, the vast majority of your eight pointers but if it's a deer that is showing at three and a half that he's gonna be a 10 I'm not condoning that, I'm not saying that, but I'm not, I'm also saying that probably could work, if you identify a deer. And you try to give it more food. However that's done. It's either doing the habitat work or removing other mouths.
Bucks, endos. And you don't shoot that deer. He's [01:16:00] probably gonna get bigger. And if he happens to be a 10 or 12 pointer at a younger age, it's probably gonna be a pretty good indication that he's gonna have a lot of points. I think that's a lot of his his theory is, I don't want him to leave.
I want him to want to be here. And if I get rid of assholes or other competition, he's not gonna go anywhere. He's, cuz he feeds them, when it's legal too. He feeds them. They've got, he's got everything he wants here and he's got no competition. He will be the six year old deer I'm able to kill in two years.
Like I just said, the things you have control over, he's actually manipulating the things you have control over. You don't have control over genetics. But It's there's truth in that and there's a lot of factors that go in to be able to do something like that. You gotta have the big, a big enough farm, right?
The ability to do those things. I don't think I could do it , because I'd be the same guy like Andy, like that, that three and a half year old nice, solid eight man, what is he next year? But what if he turns into a giant New Year's and I'm getting rid of him, that sort of stuff. [01:17:00] Those are just five of the topics on Matt's article, the Top 20, the 20 Biggest Deer Research Discoveries of the Last Decade.
So for the listeners, why don't you tell 'em where they can go read this article? What's cool about the article is you cite. the research studies in each of those, the 20 things that you list. So then people then can go try to find more information about those, tell people how they can go read this article.
Among other things with the National Deer Association that you put out. Our website is www.dearassociation.com. All lowercase. So if you just type that in probably the easiest way to find that article, cuz it is a couple years old, is if you click on our menu, there's a little searchable tool and you could probably just type in 20 biggest discoveries or something along those lines.
It would definitely find it if you type into this search menu. It's likely [01:18:00] under the deer biology menu, but you probably have to scroll for a while to find it. Cause we put out two newer articles every week and it's , a couple years back from when that came out. So that's the easiest way to find it.
You can. find my contact information on the website. I'm a full-time staff member and, we list all our staff and our contact information. Feel free to reach out to me if, a listener has a question about a deer that does some crazy stuff, I'm always happy to talk dear with folks.
I age jawbones through emails all kinds of cool stuff for our members and supporters. And if you're not already getting our newsletter, we have a eNewsletter, an email newsletter that has these new articles every week. We don't sell your information or anything. It comes out every Thursday.
There's a option, I think it's on our homepage to, to just put your email in and get our newsletter so that I would encourage you to do it because actually the conference that a bunch of this research came from that I've mentioned twice there's gonna be a new article coming out. [01:19:00] Actually, there's one in this upcoming newsletter, which is tomorrow about some of the data we learned there.
And there's gonna be a full-blown article like this one that we're talking about coming out soon about some of the latest stuff from this. So that's where you can go. Awesome. That's pretty awesome. And also, if you just go to Google and type in 20 biggest Deer research and just stop there it'll find the article.
All right, so that's good too. Easy ways to find it. And we'll link the article also in our release. But that's just five of the topics of the 20. And it was hard to pick five, honestly. There was other ones I wanted. But, we went an hour and 20 with you, Matt, and that was just five.
So if we did all 20 be a little bit longer than that. So we really appreciate your time tonight. We really appreciate everything the National Deer Association does and all the researchers that are, we talked about in each of these things. Just to be able to understand, an animal that we love to pursue.
A little bit better. Matt, we appreciate your time and what you do for us. Thanks guys. Really appreciate the platform. Enjoyed speaking and talking dear with all four of you. I'm [01:20:00] gonna include Micah because he's there on the screen, so he can't even hear you, so you can say anything you want about him right now,
All right, man. We appreciate it. All right guys. Have a good night. Thank you. See ya.